Professional gaming, beyond a sport (Opinion piece)
As I am sure everyone has heard by now, it is unlikely that esports will be included in the Olympic Winter Games in 2022 as it does not fall in line with ‘Olympic values’.
Talking to the media at the 2018 Asian Games, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that “we cannot have in the Olympic program a game which is promoting violence or discrimination.” This coming from an Olympic gold medalist skilled in the art of fencing, a sport birthed out of violence, seems a bit ironic.
Esports giants stated their case for inclusion
During the Olympic Esports forum hosted in Switzerland last month, key stakeholders such as Blizzard, Epic Games, Riot Games and ESL stated their case. Blizzard Entertainment president and co-founder, Mike Morhaime, said that currently the industry is “seeing a real inflection point for esports” and that “folk that hadn’t really been paying attention to the esports phenomenon are now interested.”
Scandals plague traditional sports
At the end of last year, Russia’s entire pantheon of athletes were banned due to evidence found by the IOC of widespread doping, something that has been plaguing the professional sport industry globally for decades.
Meanwhile, gaming is merely a simulation, and beyond the shallow interpretation of eliminating the competition in a virtual realm. The unfathomable depths of intricacy lies within the strategy developed between players and teams and the strength that exists when professional athletes are in constant communication.
Esports offers unlimited potential
No other sport in the world offers the same dynamics and unending potential as we see within esports. As a gamer, I love the idea of standing together with the community in order to get the world to see professional gaming as a sport, but there comes a point where a line must be drawn in the sand. Why fight for inclusion when professional gaming is beyond the definitions of a sport?
Recent years have seen a massive decline in traditional sports participation and growth worldwide; some would argue it’s due to the lack of evolution within sports. Conversely, gaming is constantly evolving and is not singular.
A call to arms
All that the powers that be want is another overarching body that can regulate professional gaming, which will just give way to the same corruption we have seen in traditional sport.
So instead of bickering around trying to gain entry into a competition embroiled in its own scandals and politics, perhaps it’s time we start looking at our own prestigious international competition, inclusive of all professional titles under a single banner. Maybe we even host it the same time as the Olympics, and leave it to the media to decide which event they’d like to cover.