Electronic Sports, commonly known as Esports, are a relatively new type of sport since their beginnings in the early 2010s. Defined by Oxford Languages as “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers,” they are video games to an organized extreme.
Some common and popular examples of Esports are League of Legends, Valorant, and Overwatch. Though Esports may not fit into the typical idea of athletics, they should still be considered legitimate sports.
Oxford Languages defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes
against another or others for entertainment.” A key point here is the mention of “physical exertion.”
This statement contradicts the idea that Esports should be considered sports, given they don’t require intensive physical exertion. However, activities such as chess, bowling, table tennis, and pool compete with this statement as well.
The news agency Reuters stated, “The International Olympic Committee recognized chess as a sport in 1999 and a year later it was an exhibition event at the Sydney Olympics.” Chess could be said to require just as much physical exertion as Esports, proving that our cultural definition of sports has less to do with athleticism and more with the environment and mindset surrounding them.
Major Esporting events include The International, an worldwide championship for the game Dota 2, hosted by the game’s producer and developer, Valve. At around 40 million dollars, the International has the largest Esports prize pool. The Super Bowl, one of the world’s largest sporting events in general, has a prize of $130,000. Competition is a defining feature of sports; it is evident that Esports fit this description due to both their financial standing as well as their highly competitive environment.
Esports also have a substantial following reminiscent of more traditional sports. Gamers vie for large audiences and their fans have energy levels which match the passion of traditional sports fans.
Berkeley High School itself has a significant population of students and staff who feel engaged and challenged by competitive Esports. These characteristics are what have afforded Esports the popularity and status they currently hold. In fact, they are being considered for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
As the sports world broadens its definition of what should be considered a sport, for Esports, it should mean recognizing more talented and hardworking people as athletes.