What do people think of when they hear the word “sport”? To most of the population, videogames and electronics do not cross their minds. Perhaps it is a game of soccer, with billions of fans that span across the world. Maybe it’s the new season of football, where family and friends gather on a game night to cheer for their team. Or could it be basketball, where the fast paced games provide entertainment for any who sit at home, or in the stadiums to watch it. The definition of the word “sport” according to Merriam Webster is “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other”. Soccer, football, and basketball all fit this description perfectly. Then why are esports taboo to the eyes of the majority? Is it the nonphysical aspect of it? Perhaps people hate new forms of entertainment?
One of the stigmas associated with videogames is the idea that it wastes time. Just like participating in a high school sport is a complete waste of time. Right? For anyone to pursue a career in a sport, they need to invest time. You can watch all the basketball games you want, but without practice you will NEVER be able to perform like the professionals do. “Wait, there are career options for videogames?” you might be thinking. Yes, in fact they are quite profitable. Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez, a professional League of Legends player, made over 600,000 euros in 2013. To save you some of your precious time, that’s around 826,500 dollars. A majority of professional League of Legends players earn 6 digit salaries from a videogame.
Now you are wondering, “how on earth do they make that kind of money if all they do is stare at a computer and click buttons?” This is a gross understatement and insulting to those who play videogames professionally. Like any other day job, esports players take their profession with utmost gravity. Pros follow a strict schedule and endure many sleepless nights. A typical schedule for a team involves exercising, doing public relations, and practicing strategies for hours on hours. Videogame strategies are dynamic and never stale. New strategies are formulated frequently. Plays are to be made and each team must perform at their absolute prime if they want any chance to win. “Strategies? It’s just a videogame how complicated can it be?” Just as complicated as putting a ball in a net, many sports can be simplified to the most basic level. Every sport requires intricate mechanics that are practiced every day, and esports are no exception. The micromanaging of movements is crucial in many games and its appeal stems from the pro’s performance.
“If esports was popular, it would be all over the television, why should I bother with something that other people don’t even enjoy.” It’s not on television, but is everything worth watching on a plasma screen? For your sake I hope not. League of Legends is one of the most popular esport there is with over 32 million players playing each month. 12 million of these people play the game daily and over 10.5 million hours are played each day. The World Finals for League of Legends was also held at the Staples Center, home of the basketball team, the Lakers. In under an hour, tickets to the World Finals were sold out for the Staples Center, a testament to its growth.
The eastern hemisphere has a longer history of Esports. South Korea has been a vanguard for esports with television channels that broadcast matches. Other countries in Europe and Asia sporadically cover esports in the media, where popular teams from each continent become icons through sponsors and partnerships. Why has the United States fallen so far behind the rest of the world? Society in the United States does not promote change. The United States has a history of slow change. Many prejudices in the past have only been recently resolved in the history of this country. Spreading awareness of the budding population of esports can help integrate it as part of western culture, just like other movements in the past.
Esports all in all, is a sport. It is competitive, it requires dedication, and people are passionate about it. It has a rising population in many countries and is starting to spread its influence on the west. The only difference separating a sport and an esport is that one requires a ball and the other requires a computer.
Jason Liu is a student at Westfield High School.
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