Klonsinski: Esports not the next sporting revolution
Zach Klonsinski | Friday, January 29, 2016
Usually, I’m all for conversation: two (or more) sides to a story, approaching the same issue from different angles or backgrounds, working together to establish a compromise or reimagine the issue, to see it in a new light.
This time though, Marek Mazurek finds himself treading down the wrong path.
Esports are not sports. They do not belong in the sports world or “American sports culture,” despite Mazurek’s thoughts to the contrary.
Do they require an extremely high level of mental skill and quickness? Absolutely.
Do they require the absolute basic definition of physical activity and prowess? I guess hand-eye coordination to click on some things, maybe?
Do they have winners and losers? Yes.
Do they have fairly large, loyal followings?
You know what else have all of these things?
Chess. Checkers. Rubik’s Cube speed competitions.
That’s the type of category in which these ‘egames’ belong. Egames are this generation’s versions of chess clubs. They represent just another shift in bringing the pre-digital world up to speed.
Are they more complex than chess? Operationally, sure, since computers naturally seem to make that happen, although I don’t know if I would go as far as to say these games are actually more complex than taking on current world champion Magnus Carlsen in a game of chess.
Mazurek, at the beginning of his piece, decided to set “aside the discussion of whether or not esports should be considered sports in the traditional sense” because there is no argument to be made supporting egames’ case.
I’ll agree with him on one thing: ESPN made a smart move jumping aboard the egames train, as evidenced by the numbers Mazurek cites in his piece.
However, this doesn’t come close to reserving a spot at the sporting table for egames.
When ESPN began in 1979, it was an acronym for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
Egames fall under the Entertainment section, again not a terrible thing. I’ve seen ESPN showing things like pool (trick shot competitions and nine-ball tournaments, for example), darts, poker or mini-golf. And yes, I did enjoy watching these events. I found them entertaining.
I also find occasionally watching my friend play League of Legends for a few minutes entertaining when I’m hanging out in his room on a lazy afternoon. So, yeah, I can’t fault ESPN for jumping on board, unlike Colin Cowherd.
Egames are not sports, though. That’s a discussion I’m willing to have with anyone.
Wannabe pundits pushing the “Egames are sports” agenda will immediately ask the question: What is a sport? And naturally, they’ll turn to the dictionary. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
It’s easy to see egames meet almost every requirement outlined in the definition of sport, except one: physical exertion.
Sure, according to the Oxford’s extremely vague definition of exertion as “effort,” clicking does require some physical effort. So does standing. So does talking, for that matter. So does breathing, while we’re on the topic. Let’s make breathing a sport.
If there’s a conversation worth having, it should be focused on establishing how much physical “effort” or “exertion” should be required for something to be considered a sport.
Whatever that threshold is, it’s far beyond anything egames require.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.