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What is a sport? It is an interesting question and one that would probably lead to several different answers.

Most would likely tell you that a sport is something that is geared around competition. Where one competitor or team is opposed by another or a group of other teams or players. This is why events such as ballroom dancing and synchronized swimming have found their way into the Olympic Games.

While many can see the benefits of calling these types of activities sports, there are some questioning the validity of referring to eSports as a sport. Because these competitions are played over a computer or using a video game console, there are many wondering how this could be considered a sport when the players on the screen are really doing all the work. So, are eSports a sport?

Sportsbooks Seem to Think So

One way that people would classify something as a sport is by your ability to place wagers upon it. Right now, the eSports world is one of the most rapidly growing industries in terms of sports gambling. As more competitions have become available, sportsbooks from across the globe are accepting wagers on these competitions. They have even developed lines, spreads, prop bets, and analyses regarding these events.

As you can see from the eSports bookmakers here, many are offering the same types of promotions, offerings, and bonuses that you would find at any other sportsbook that accepts wagers on events such as football, basketball, or hockey. This group of bookmakers has recognized that this has become a very popular sporting industry and they are offering the opportunity for players to get in on the action.

I think it [esports betting] has a lot of potential. I think it would be a great betting product.
Jason Robins, DraftKings CEO

What Exactly Are eSports?

Maybe the problem for some with classifying eSports as a sport is that they do not really understand what an eSport exactly is. According to most involved within the industry, eSports are competitions that are organized around video gaming. These competitions include many of the most popular games on the Internet today, including Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Madden NFL.

Those who compete in these competitions are quite skilled at their craft. In fact, if you were to compare what is required of becoming a top-level competitor in an eSports event, you would find that there is very little difference between them and what some would consider “real athletes” in terms of preparation. This includes exceptional hand-eye coordination, great reflexes, quick decision-making, and a will to win. The reality is that it is easy to classify these players as “athletes” based upon what we normally think of as skills necessary to compete in sports.

So, How Should We Classify Them?

Maybe the answer to how to classify eSports is not as much about if it meets the standards as a sport as much as it is if we should actually consider it a sport. There are many out there who have presented quality arguments for both sides, and this article will attempt to address the pros and cons of each. These include:

Pros:

  • High level of competition
  • Fans Can Enjoy the Action
  • Takes a Great Deal of Skill

High-Level Competition

While premier leagues and the various sports attracted the very best talent from across the globe, the reality is that the competitors in eSports may actually be more talented in their craft than those playing on the pitch, court, or rink. There are several reasons behind this. The first of these is that the geographic region has virtually no impact on players’ ability to become skilled in these games.

For example, those playing hockey must be located in an area where they can either go to a rink or where one is available to them outdoors during the winter. Without these, they are unable to become skilled as a hockey player. Conversely, a person playing a video game simply needs a good controller, computer, and access to the Internet. No battling to get on a team or trying to find time to get on a field. They can play anytime they have availability.

Plus, the number of premier leagues in eSports is far less in number than what you would find in traditional sports leagues. This means that the very best reach the top level, so you are getting competitions that are as good as they get.

Fans Can Enjoy the Action

Just as a person can sit back and watch the World Cup or a basketball match on their TV, fans are able to enjoy eSports events either through their computer or through major television networks. This is becoming a major industry, and television stations are responding by covering these events. This allows fans to enjoy all the action, including commentary and analysis.

Takes a Great Deal of Skill

The very best make it to the top in basketball, football, tennis, or any other sport. This is true in eSports as well. As mentioned before, the limited number of leagues means that the very best players are participating. It takes a lot of practice, skill, and experience to reach the top levels of these competitions.

Cons:

There are some aspects of eSports that make it so that maybe it should not be considered a sport. These include:

  • Minimal physical demands.
  • Not played in real life.

Minimal Physical Demands

There is a level of physical demand that comes from playing eSports. It takes incredible hand-eye coordination, and the hearts of players are racing during competitions. However, the amount of physical exertion needed to compete in one of these games is minimal in comparison to what one would endure during a football, basketball, or hockey contest.

It is this argument in particular that has many doctors questioning whether they should be considered as sports. Because of the minimal physical exertion, it is leading to a more sedentary lifestyle which is dangerous, especially for younger persons.

Not Played in Real Life

While some would contend that auto racing is not a sport either as the car is doing most of the work, what makes auto racing different from eSports is that you are actually out on a track, competing against a number of other drivers. In fact, this may be the most dangerous sport on earth.

In eSports, the entire competition is in a virtual world. There is nothing real about this. For psychologists and doctors who are concerned about kids getting lost in virtual worlds, these games only help to promote that possibility.

Are eSports really sports? By the strictest of definitions, they probably are. The real question to ask is if they should be considered sports. That is one that is left to the individual to decide.