The IOC is in the process of seeing if video games like League of Legends are worthy to be included in the Olympics. We have strong feelings about this topic so we would love to share our thoughts with you on this topic.
By definition, a “sport” is an organized, competitive game for competition. Video Game sports (or “video game competitions”) are played through online platforms like League of Legends, Counter Strike, Dota 2, CS:GO and many more. These sports are very similar to traditional competitive sports like Soccer or Basketball. Video Games and eSports were already accepted as a full sport in South Korea and Taiwan. The Korean and Taiwanese governments also recognize e-sports as a real sport with support similar to traditional sports.
This sport has both amateur and professional players, with the international scene composed of professional teams. Pro gamers have been given scholarships from famous universities all over the world. Competitive video games have been broadcasted on television, being watched by more than 60 million people from Korea and China alone.
In Korea, you can see huge stadiums filled with people watching eSports tournaments on a daily basis. In 2013, League of Legends sold out a Staples Center in Los Angeles where 20 000 people attended to watch a tournament. The Chinese streaming platform Huya reportedly paid 3 million dollars to secure the rights to stream a year’s worth of TESPA collegiate gaming competitions in America. After the International, a Dota 2 tournament, fans spent a record-breaking 11 million dollars to watch a four-day event.
In the past years, eSports have been on the rise with millions of fans watching competitions live or streaming on their TV or PC. According to reports from Newzoo , an estimated 300 million people will be watching eSport competitions by 2020, generating almost 500 million dollars in revenue per year.
The Olympics bring awareness to new events and expand the pool of athletes from participating countries. Adding e-sports would effectively increase the number of people who could attend the Olympics.
E-sports have a lot of similarities with traditional sports, but also some differences. For example, video games have a narrative narrative where you choose the actions of a character to accomplish a goal, as opposed to a more simplistic sporting event which does not require any play style choice.
Why they should be on the Olympics
1. E sports are real sports
Video games are becoming more and more similar to other sports. The level of competition is growing, the teams are getting bigger and better. The competitive nature of eSports is comparable to the Olympic Games. The Olympics have been holding competitions for more than a century and they have evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry, making billions of dollars in sponsorship and TV rights. eSports has the same potential.
2. Esports already broadcast on TV
The Olympics has been broadcasted on television for a long time. They were the first event to be broadcasted when NBC launched its Olympic channel in 1968 (and when it became known as “American Broadcasting Television” – which later changed to NBC). Just like the Olympics, e-sports are broadcasted on television, giving the fans the opportunity to follow their favorite games and players.
3. The Olympics needs a younger audience
The Olympic Games needs a younger audience to keep its relevance with the times. This is why they have been adding different events in recent years. E-sports could be an event with a growing fan base, similar to the Olympics. A younger audience would open doors for e-sports to be included in the Olympics.
4. It’s good for the world
The Olympics is an international event which brings together people from all over the world. Bringing e-sports onto the Olympic Games would show that video games are just as deserving of being practiced as traditional sports.
5 E Sports are not extreme sports
Surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding , BMX, MotoGP, NASCAR, etc. All of these sports are not thought to be part of the Olympics because they are considered too dangerous to the athletes. However the same could not be said about e-sports like Counter Strike or Dota 2. E-sports are mostly based on skill, team work and strategy which makes them safe for most people of any age!
Why they shouldn’t be on the Olympics
1. E-sports are not “athlete” sports
Video games are not real sports because they do not require any physical exertion nor do they require you to rely on your athletic skills. E-sport professionals do not train their bodies to compete, unlike traditional sports athletes.
2. E-sport betting has a bad image
The stereotype of e-sport betting is that people who bet on games are 16 year olds playing in their parents basement. This stereotype doesn’t do any justice to the professional players who are making a living out of it. It does not show that real money is being wagered on the games, putting the integrity of the games at risk. E-sport betting wouldn’t be any different from gambling at an online casino where you can play free slots
3. A lot of the players are young
There is no age limit to play video games, which means the Olympic committee cannot set an age requirement for gamers who are competing in tournaments. If you have 16 year old kids playing CS:GO with 30 year old men, it would be unfair because the younger ones do not have the same mental strength or experience as them.
4. Esports are not as big as the other events
The current Olympic Games has over 300 different sporting events. This makes it hard for them to add e-sports tournaments since they would have to decide what sport they would cut from the list in order to add e-sports. There are a lot of sports that were once on the Olympics but were later removed, like polo and tug-of-war. E-sport tournaments don’t have a very big following at the moment and having an event is useless without a lot of people watching it.
Even if an e-sport tournament gets live TV coverage, it’s unlikely that many people would tune in just to watch because of the lack of mainstream awareness compared to traditional sports.
It will take international recognition to get e-sports on the Olympics. The Olympic Committee has slowly recognized video gaming as a professional sport. Adding e-sports to this event would add legitimacy to it and bring in a much needed younger audience who want to watch competitive video gaming. The Olympics can be a platform for video gaming to grow, much like it has for sports like archery and golf.