When attempting to quantify the statement “Why eSports are real sports”, it’s important to take a look at how eSports compare to traditional sports on all levels. Traditionalists still tend to argue that eSports isn’t a real sport due to the fact that there is no physical and/or athletic effort on the part of the players. Instead of focusing on a mere single aspect of sport in general, one should rather attempt a blow-by-blow comparison of all aspects that make up the idea of what is known as sports.
We take a look at some of the building blocks that make up the experience that is professional sports.
Both Fill Arenas
It’s nothing strange or new to miss out on a major sports event because you left buying tickets until the very last minute. Major sports events are well known for their sell-out capacity, part of the reason why those selling tickets on the black market are still in business. The fact of the matter is, sports sells. Also, eSports sells. eSports events are selling out major arenas and stadiums all over the world. A prime example is the SSE Arena in Wembley. The SSE has repeatedly been sold out to fans of League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global offensive.
In fact, the League of Legends World Championship Final taking place in November will be staged in the Beijing National Stadium due to the sheer size of the event and the number of fans expected. The BNS is a 91,000-seater stadium.
Large Corporate Stakeholders
Traditional Football clubs PSG and Schalke both own League of Legends teams and Copenhagen owns the Counter Strike team “North”. Premier League Football teams Manchester City and West Ham have even gone as far as signing eSports players to represent them in tournaments of the football game, FIFA. They aren’t the first in the major leagues to have gone this route either. That particular way was paved by European giants Paris Saint-Germain, Wolfsburg and Valentia.
North American NBA teams Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks have all joined in on the eSports action and have each acquired or invested in League of Legends teams, in some cases coughing up in excess of £2 million for the honours. That’s the size of a very generous progressive slots jackpot!
Road To The Olympics
There is a strong possibility that eSports games will be added to the 2024 Olympics roster. Medal events have already been included in the upcoming Asian games in 2022. Olympic president Thomas Bach is what one might refer to as a typical sports traditionalist, having dismissed the inclusion of eSports in the Olympics line-up because he believes that eSports does not comply with the core Olympic values and rules of traditional sports.
Our guess is that his opinion will change just as soon as he realises the value of an entirely new and additional younger Olympic audience, a target market that has never before shown much interest in the traditional Olympic Games.
This is exactly what transpired with the president of ESPN, John Skipper, not too long ago. Skipper was initially of the opinion that eSports wasn’t a sport, but should rather be classified as being a competition, and that the two concepts were miles apart in meaning. It was exactly one year later that ESPN announced having dedicated an entire news channel on their online platform to the broadcasting and news reporting of eSports events.
The bottom-line is this: whatever your opinion regarding the comparability of eSports to traditional sports, the correct question to be asking is this: do people pay good money to watch eSports?
Yes, indeed they do.