The much-held debate about whether to include esports in the Olympic games is soon to end. We may see a whole list of esports lined up for the Olympic games, with winners walking away with medals just like any other game. Popularly referred to as organized competitive video gaming, esports has risen to fame in just a couple of years.
It wasn’t until late 2010 that people started to become aware of the sport. The sport is expected to draw close to 500 million viewers this year, and you know what that means? All esports activities globally are expected to generate revenues of close to $1 billion, which is way higher than other sports. For this reason, the International Olympic Committee is eyeing the sport, and efforts to have it in the Olympics have already kicked off. The first question we need to address is, is esports a sport?
The simple answer is yes. For the following reasons, esports is a sport just like any other in the Olympics.
Esports Tournaments and Events
The huge popularity and growth of eSports have led to huge competitive events and tournaments. For instance, a tournament brings together more than 15 teams, all competing for close to $50 million in total prize money. The truth is, though the esports leagues and tournaments are not as big as, let’s say, the English Premier League, the NFL, or the NBA, they are still significant and organized in the same way as the sports included in the Olympic games.
For instance, the Overwatch League is held globally in different regions with massive in-person fans, just like any other traditional sporting activity. What is more shocking is that it costs a lot of money to get a slot to participate in these games, which shows how competitive the sport is in the same way as any other traditional sport.
The Competitive Quality of eSports
Esports is unarguably among the most competitive sports globally. The fact of the matter is, in the same way, that professional athletes require both mental strength and physical exertion to succeed in the field, the same is required to be a legendary esports player. The big argument may be that some sports like rugby and football are intense and require lots of physical power, unlike esports played while one is stationary.
The truth is that it is even more tiring to sit down than being active in the field, as a lot of mental strength is needed, hence an esports player also needs to be physically fit. Precision is also a major attribute required to become a successful athlete. The truth is that this is also applied in esports, just like in any other game. An esports athlete needs to be keen on reflexes and coordination to help them work perfectly with the many gadgets on the table, including keyboards and consoles.
The inclusion of esports in iGaming platforms is also proving it to be a sport. As a result, you can bet on your favorite eFIFA or League of Legends player in the same way that you can bet on your favorite NFL team.
However, match-fixing is possible in esports as regulations are still being drafted. Analyzing reviews of various platforms offering eSports betting is the only assurance that players can land on realistic matches and avoid match-fixing. The eSports sites that they recommend are chosen based on their reputation, customer service, free bets and promotions, and a wide range of games and competitions.
Hurdles facing esports
Lack of a Global Governing Body
Having an official governing body is one of the International Olympic Committee requirements for officially sanctioning an event in the Olympic games. Thanks to the sport’s popularity, some federations are emerging, including the International esports Federation (IeSF) of South Korea, which was formulated in 2008, and the Global Esports Federation (GEF). However, the specifics of the game make it difficult to have one governing federation for all sports globally, like FIFA for soccer or FIBA for basketball.
Violence in esports
The Olympic games are built on specific values, including respect and friendship. Some esports, like Counterstrike and League of Legends, is based on violence, hindering their entry into the Olympic games.
The truth is that there is still hope. Esports players may not necessarily be traditional athletes, but they train in the same way and are required to have all the attributes of a normal athlete. The International Olympic Committee recently included an Olympic Virtual Series in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympic events.
However, top officials of the International Olympic Committee argued that though it was too early to include esports in the Olympic games of 2024, all indications point to its inclusion in the 2028 Olympic games in Los Angeles.