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Are E-Sports ‘Real’ Sports?

E-Sports is a highly debated topic right now, with many traditional sports enthusiasts claiming that e-sports are a joke, that they are not ‘real’ sports, and that sport networks like ESPN should stick to traditional sports for their viewers. This has caused an uproar on the internet, with multiple sources and internet fame fighting back and saying that e-sports are just as much of a ‘real’ sport as any. All arguments aside, here is my take on it.

E-Sports should not be on ESPN – but not for the reasons stated above, but rather for the reasons of audience demographics. Simply put, people who watch ESPN will probably never think of e-sports as fitting in their definition of a ‘real’ sport and they crave action and physical prowess aside from strategy. Rather, e-sports should have their own network on television to be shown on, and maybe this advance should wait a few more years before getting to that point as well. Not because the world would not be ready for video game competitions on television, but for the reason of growth on e-sports demographics. And they are growing rapidly.
More on rapid growth later. Right now, I am going to talk about e-sports being considered a ‘real’ sport. First of all, in my opinion and in most traditional definitions of sport, a sport is a competition in which physical prowess is required along with skill to win. E-Sports do not meet that definition entirely. E-Sports requires a certain degree of physical exertion, mostly on the eyes and on hand movement. Other than that, there is no real physical movement in e-sports and no real physical exertion to the degree that a typical sport would require. Therefore, I do not consider E-Sports ‘real’ sports.
However I would consider competitions a branch of sport. Competitions require strategy, skill, and a certain degree of muscle memory. Professional Chess is a great example of this – it requires advance strategy and skill in each move, and muscle memory in being able to hit the clock while looking at the board. E-Sports are very similar as they require teamwork, strategy, skill, and muscle memory in controller and keyboard/mouse action while looking at the screen. In this regard, I would consider the name e-sport as a little misleading. I prefer professional gaming, as advertised by the MLG (Major League Gaming). Therefore, I would consider E-Sports an advanced competition, and as said earlier, competitions can be considered a branch of sports.
Revenue by region.
E-Sports are actually more popular in statistic value when compared with traditional sports, and certainly look to be growing faster. A study completed in 2015 shows that the e-sports market has reached more than 134 million viewers worldwide, and in North America alone, brings in $143 million in revenue. Most of this revenue, just like traditional sports, is brought in through corporate sponsorships. Like anything else, having that many viewers in any given field presents a powerful marketing opportunity for companies to get more eyeballs on their brand. This revenue is mostly generated online as well, which is impressive compared to the millions of dollars spent on a single Superbowl ad. I highly recommend reading the SuperData report on e-sports, which is where I found many of my statistics and is a great read. It is also free, click here to get it. Not only that, it is growing extremely fast as well. E-Sports have doubled its viewership year-over-year in the past four years straight, and total revenue generated has increased over 350% (see here).
Games like DOTA 2 are bringing in $10,000,000 prize pools.
In closing, I do not consider e-sports as ‘real’ sports as there is no real physical prowess demonstrated. However, I do consider them advanced competitions and a branch of sports. E-Sports looks to continue to experience massive growth in the coming years, and it is a market that should be taken much more seriously. I, for one, would love to get involved in this industry.

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