The Asian Games is the second largest sporting event in the world. At this year’s games, eSports featured as a demonstration sport, and was then accepted to be an official sport in the 2022 games. Following suit, Paris is also looking to include eSports in the 2024 Olympic Games. The notion of gamers being able to earn gold medals for their nations from the comfort of a chair is raising very heated, yet interesting debate. Let’s take a look at a 3 key debates as to whether gaming should be an Olympic sport, or not.
Con - The traditional definition of sport involves some level of physical exercise or exertion. Going back to ancient Greece, the Olympics symbolized the pursuit of physical perfection, and striving to reach beyond our mortal bodies.
Sat down twiddling a mouse and keyboard, or a game-pad, epitomizes the direct opposite. Gaming actually encourages a lack of physical fitness - staring at a screen for hours on end is something that clashes with the very notion of sport.
Pro - The definition of sport has always been more than physical exercise. Skill and mental acuity have long been considered defining traits of elite athletes, which is why chess, snooker, and darts have long been held to be sports. There are already non-physical sports in the Olympics, such as rifle shooting, which actually involves not physically moving anything, accept a finger.
The most important element in sports is competition. eSports has this in spades, creating some of the highest competitive pressure in any sport. In multiplayer sports, many eSports also require a level of teamwork play that surpasses any other areas of human performance.
Con - Video gaming is a problem for society, so pro gamers should not be presented as role models for children to emulate. The IOC has already voiced concerns that violent video games should not be part of the Olympics. Gaming is fundamentally unhealthy as it encourages a lack of exercise and social disconnection.
China has recognized these problems and defined gaming as addictive, setting up treatment centers to deal with gaming disorders - just like drug abuse is treated. The Olympics is meant to promote sports that help people improve their lives, not degrade them.
Pro - Elite gamers are extremely dedicated, committing huge amounts of hours to their pursuit of excellence that go beyond most other sports. This combined with the exceptional talent required to rise above millions of other competitors, makes them role models of human performance in the mental domain.
For this reason gamers are worshiped and adored by hundreds of millions of fans who pack out stadiums to watch them. Particularly for younger generations, this inspires them to better themselves in ways other sports do not. Gamers are the sports heroes of the next generation.
Con - Fans of eSports already have their lots of their own tournaments and championships that cater specifically to this form of entertainment. Polls show that most gamers don’t really care if eSports becomes an Olympic sport, because they don’t naturally associate gaming with it. eSports has its own entertainment niche.
Additionally, eSports tend to be highly esoteric. Only certain fans watch certain games, and the demographic of eSports fans is heavily biased towards young males who are generally not interested in traditional sports. For those new to eSports, many games are too complex to understand without knowing how to play, so spectatorship will exclude the majority of the population.
Pro - Part of the role of the Olympics is to widen people’s horizons and introduce them to new sports. Dressage is an example of a sport which excludes the majority of people from participating and is also difficult to understand, yet it has been in the Olympics for over a century.
More importantly, eSports is already a massively established global entertainment industry. With big money and sponsorship behind it, it has been evolved to deliver maximum entertainment value – something like the Super Bowl. Out of any new Olympics sports, eSports is the one which will be the most popular, and it has fans in every country.
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