By Kevin Vazquez
Let’s be clear: competitive gaming is not a sport and its gamers are not athletes.
Fans of traditional sports say the comparison between sports and video games is disrespectful to real athletes. Often overlooked is the disrespect that the comparison deals to the competitive game scene. Using the term “sports” to legitimize competitive gaming implies that gaming is not worthy of recognition on its own merits.
ESPN2’s broadcast of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament has raised questions on whether professional gamers are athletes and whether video games should be considered sports.
From the beginning, companies like Major League Gaming, and now Valve and Riot, have been pushing for this recognition. It’s easier pitching a new sport to investors than the idea of a couple of people in front of screens.
Within the gaming community, opinions are split. Two out of the five competitors in the 2014 League of Legends championship team didn’t self-identify as athletes.
While these pro gamers might not be able to run a 40-yard dash in under five seconds or throw a ball 92 mph, the highest level of effort, sacrifice and time they put in to get to the top of the field should be equally respected.
Sailing, Scrabble, poker and the Scripps National Spelling Bee have graced the airwaves of ESPN before as non-traditional sporting events. I don’t see why we can’t also have demons, a girl with a shark cannon or a Japanese guy named Ryu throwing fireballs. After all The “E” in ESPN does stand for entertainment.