Last month, Olympic bid committee co-president Tony Estanguet told the Associated Press that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was planning to speak with representatives from the esports community about possible inclusion in the 2024 Olympic games scheduled to take place in Paris. Later, IOC president Thomas Bach announced parameters for inclusion of the “esports,” stating that games of a violent nature would not be considered for inclusion given that those games go against the values of the Olympics. This means that fans of cult favorites such as “Call of Duty,” “League of Legends” and “Halo” will likely have to settle for video games like “NBA:2K” and “FIFA.” The problem that many people, myself included, have with this announcement is that “esports” can’t really even be considered sports.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a sport can be defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” I’ll agree that many video games give the player the option to play using multiplayer mode or on a team and playing can indeed be quite enjoyable. However, I have to insist that the playing of video games does not require or result in an appropriate level of physical exertion for this to be considered a sport.
Sure, your fingers can get weary after navigating Rainbow Road a few times and your eyes can begin to ache after staring at a screen for prolonged periods of time, but I’d be hard-pressed to call this physical exertion. People also get tired after scarfing down a whole turkey on Thanksgiving, so by following this logic, might eating also find it’s way into the Olympics as a “sport”?
Some argue that while certain games only require the player to move their fingers as with first-person shooter games, other video games such as in the Wii Sports categories, require the active participation and movement of the player’s entire body. To those persons, I say that this simply is not true. In fact, I remember when my own family thought that getting my little brother to play the Wii Sports games would encourage him to be more active. Instead, he sat, legs propped on the couch, practicing nothing else but a flick of the wrist because that was all it took to get a strike in bowling or to beat someone at a game of e-tennis.
Others petitioning for “esports” state that by highlighting them, it will encourage lovers of the digital component to play the games, or at least be more interested, in the real-life counterparts. This makes about as much sense as Macy’s giving all of their attention to online shoppers, hoping that they will mosey on into the retail stores. It simply won’t happen because if it’s more convenient for a person to sit in the comfort of their house, secluded away from the elements and interaction with others, journeying out into the great outdoors will always take second place. Therefore, it would make more sense to start a campaign for rugby, badminton or whatever sport needs a boost in viewership, instead of adding “esports” to the lineup and hoping for the best.