Toronto Mike

Esports and the Olympics: Should Gaming Be Considered a Sport?

Do you hear that sound? That's the sound of keyboard clicks and intense concentration from gamers around the world. Esports, or electronic sports, have exploded in popularity and even garnered attention from the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the first-ever Olympic Esports Week will be held in Singapore from 22nd to 25th June 2023. However, with all this hype, the question arises, should gaming be considered a sport? Hardcore sports fans could argue that playing competitive screen sports doesn't require the same physical exertion as traditional sports, such as football or athletics.

On the flip side, however, gaming requires a unique set of skills and strategies that could rival certain physical sports. Esports are also great for bringing communities together and fostering camaraderie. So, let's not knock esports until we've tried to beat a world champion in Fortnite ourselves.

Esports vs Traditional Sports Betting

Sports also bring another side- betting, whether on the field or your screen, and we know that this issue is interesting to almost every sports fan. With esports making waves and firmly grounding itself within the future of competitive sporting, it's no surprise that the future of sports betting is coming hot. Only checking out some sources, such as one of the best esports betting sites – Thunderpick, is enough to see the variety of options offered to sports fans. Traditional sports betting may be stable, but esports betting is projected to skyrocket. Industry experts predict this burgeoning sector will reach a staggering $30 billion by 2025.

But what sets esports betting apart from traditional sports betting? Well, for starters, no mud, sweat, or tears are involved, because esports is all virtual. Despite this, esports tournaments are known to attract tens of thousands of spectators and boast prize pools equivalent to some traditional sporting events. The other big difference is in the games themselves. Esports encompasses an enormous range of genres, from first-person shooters to strategy games, while traditional sports are generally limited to already existing activities.

What Esports are at the Olympics?

The Olympics Esports Series (OES) opened its virtual doors to competitors on 1st March 2023. The qualifying rounds will close by the 15th of May, and the top dogs in each tournament will then be invited to compete live in Singapore between the 23rd and 25th of June.

The esports featured in the Olympics Esports Series are as follows:
​​• Archery

• Baseball

• Chess

• Cycling

• Dance

• Motorsport

• Sailing

• Tennis

• Taekwondo

Each sport has its entry requirements, and both professional and amateur gamers are invited to apply, meaning that anyone with a passion for esports has the chance to experience Olympic glory. Whatever level you play at, if you've got the dedication and drive, it could be your ticket onto the global stage. Canada could take home another Olympic cycling gold, with the wide range of esports already open for competition. But who knows? Perhaps we will see dedicated Winter Olympic esports in the future. The possibilities are endless.

Defining "Sport": What Makes an Activity a Sport?

On paper, esports are not too far removed from their traditional field sports counterparts - they require skill, dedication, and strategic thinking to succeed. Traditional sports and esports players who wish to compete at a professional level must work tirelessly to polish their abilities. Furthermore, teams from all around the world rely on sponsorships for them to pursue their sporting dreams. Despite minor differences between traditional athletes & gamers alike (except when we compare prize money), these two passionate lifestyles share one key similarity: the desire for excellence.

Arguments for Esports as an Olympic Sport

Traditional sports and esports have plenty of differences, but there are similarities between the two also - let's explore both to get the full picture. As mentioned above, traditional sports and esports both involve mental prowess, as well as a mastery of technical skills for teammates to succeed. Similarly, they both require commitment, practice, and unrelenting discipline for players to come out on top.

Another point in favor of esports as an Olympic sport is its global presence. Esports are enjoyed by millions around the world and have a surprisingly long-standing history in the competitive world. In 1980, over 10,000 players from the US participated in the world’s first major esports tournament, a Space Invaders Championships held by Atari. Furthermore, much like traditional sports, esports has seen a steep rise in viewership and interest over the years, making it a highly attractive prospect for Olympic inclusion. This is further supported by the fact that the esports industry generated revenues of over $1.2 billion in 2022, and is projected to grow exponentially by the end of the decade.

Arguments Against Esports as an Olympic Sport

Esports have been a hot topic in the Olympics debate, with some critics claiming they don't fit the bill of an official sport because players lack physical fitness and strength. But video games offer advantages that conventional sports cannot - including accessibility for those unable to participate in traditional athletics due to disability or insufficient access to training and resources. If you struggle to hit the gym or field for traditional sports, esports could be a great way to get competitive without ever leaving your couch. Whether due to physical disabilities or lack of access, digital gaming offers an alternative approach that still gives players the excitement and thrill they crave.

While fans and players alike argue that esports requires just as much skill and strategy as traditional sports, some oppose their inclusion for various reasons. Some argue that esports lack the physical activity central to traditional Olympic sports, while others argue that esports is still too new and volatile to warrant inclusion. Finally, some may argue that esports would be redundant in the Olympics, given the existence of traditional sporting events that share similar skill sets and challenges. While esports may continue to rise in popularity, it's clear that not everyone is on board with the idea of seeing them in Olympic competitions.

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