More Than A Video Game

Miguel Contreras III, Sports Editor

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Look, I know there are a lot of people who still don’t believe esports is a sport. Some people may  agree it’s a sport for the sake of argument to appease the growing masses of “E-athletes” and their supporters, but they don’t understand why it’s a sport.

It’s a long-standing perception that sports are confined to competitive activities that take place on a field or a court and require high amounts of physical exertion. People will then juxtapose that to what they perceive as someone sitting on a couch with a controller in his hand and don’t recognize the correlation. There’s a lot more than that going on.

This debate isn’t about gamers craving the same classification as traditional sports athletes for the sake of a label. Whether you personally want to define video games as a sport or not, it doesn’t change the nature of what it is.

Esport athletes deserve an equal amount of recognition, respect and opportunity for the amount of commitment and dedication they have to their competition. Although they don’t train the exact same type of skills as traditional sports, the skills they do build have intersecting values like competitive integrity, communication, teamwork, and sacrifice.

Sports shouldn’t be an exclusive club that people’s talents, interests and competitions should have to struggle to be equally respected. That’s the crux of the argument, not a petty definition.


Fortunately, although video games as a sport have been levied heavy amounts of public scrutiny, the world of sports has begun to recognize esports for their merits.

Before, the kind of statements that can be found in Matthew Walther’s “Sorry, nerds: Video games are not a sport” in regards to universities offering scholarships to esports athletes were common.

“Undergraduate education is actually a four-year-long debt-financed summer camp for lazy overgrown teenagers,” Walther wrote. “It has nothing to do with the life of the mind, and even less to do with old-fashioned vocational training. One worthless piece of paper is as good as any other, which means that the directional state former polytechnics have to find some non-academic means of competing with each other for the loan dollars that will one day crush their underemployed 20-something graduates.”

These sort of statements target higher education institutions like Robert Morris in Chicago or Columbia in Columbia, Miss. without proper understanding of what they do or how they function.  

The reality of professional esports is people who resent it often don’t understand its intricacies. Especially for a 5v5 team video game like League of Legends, professional play is contingent on a team’s ability to process huge amounts of data, communicate efficiently, adapt and strategize, while still executing split-second micro movements. A single bad decision can mean a ripple effect that completely throws away the momentum to the opposing team.

Meanwhile, according to Fox Sports, Nike has recently struck an endorsement deal with one of the most popular League of Legends video game players in the world, Jian “Uzi” Zihao, to advertise for Lebron James’ “Dribble &” campaign leading up to his docu-series titled, “Shut up and Dribble.”

Nike is one of the world’s biggest sports giants. They’ve long been known for sponsoring basketball, tennis, football and golf players and the like to advertise their products. Not only does endorsing a player like Zihao make a statement about the respect that corporation gives to what he does, but he’s also been selected to do it in a campaign for Lebron James. James is revered as one of, if not the best, traditional sports athletes in the world.
Nike isn’t the only one on board. David “Ninja” Katz, the most successful Fortnite video game streamer, was featured on the front cover of ESPN the magazine’s Sept. 18 issue.

ESPN is one of the most widely watched broadcasting and production sources for all things sports. Katz wasn’t selected to be a column hidden away in the back of the magazine for a single ESPN editor to support and write about. He was selected as the most prominent feature for that issue.

Last year, the LCS, which is the League of Legends professional league, akin to basketball’s NBA or baseball’s MLB, completed franchising its teams into permanent partners with the league. During this process, league officials accepted applications from returning and new organizations that sought to become part of the league. Officials only accepted the teams with the greatest amount of integrity and backing for success.

Franchising was not an ordeal confined to neither League of Legends or video games. The establishment of many of the now permanent LCS teams had no shortage of professional traditional sports organization involvement, according to

Yes, these organizations likely see the North American LCS as a lucrative business opportunity. However, these organizations also would not become partnered, or even create their very own LCS teams, if they didn’t believe in them and what they do or thought they would fail.

With all the backing esports has begun to accrue, the debate has in some ways evolved past whether or not esports is a sport and has instead become about whether or not it should be played along with the long-standing traditions of the Olympic Games. Where the idea might seem ludicrous to some, according to, esports has already taken steps to make the possibility into a reality at a 2017 summit held by the International Olympic Committee.

“A summit held by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in October 2017 acknowledged the growing popularity of esports, concluding that, ‘Competitive ‘esports’ could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports but would require any games used for the Olympics fitting “with the rules and regulations” of the Olympic movement.’”

A decision like often raises the question as to whether or not games like poker or chess are sports as well and what the difference between them and esports are under that definition. Psychology Today presents the argument that to be a sport, physical involvement has to be more than incidental.

“In 2005, Sport England recognized darts as a sport, presumably because darts involves skill as well as physical activity. By that account, video gaming, although targeted at a representational world rather than the real world, might also make the cut. Chess, on the other hand, is probably not a sport because, although it involves some physical activity, this physical activity is not particularly skilled, and, in any case, is not the primary purpose of chess. It is perfectly possible to get someone to move our chess pieces for us and still be counted as playing chess: in that much, the physical activity associated with playing chess is not central or even secondary but merely incidental.”

If I were to go to the gym and begin to run on a treadmill I am exercising, not playing a sport. Yet, if I were to run in a race I am now participating in a sport. What is defined as a sport is most influenced by this competitive perspective. In which case, physical exertion or exclusivity should not be the ultimate determination as to whether or not a sport is a sport.