How Far Are Esports From Becoming An Olympic Sport?
Big news for the eSports world comes from China this week. After being a demonstration sport at 2018 Asian Games, competitive gaming has now been approved as an official event for 2022. It’s not like we are an Olympic sport, but you have to start somewhere and this only fires an ongoing discussion about the mainstream acceptance of the eSports.
And even though some news coverage might imply it, it’s not as dramatic as it seems. At some point in the history of sports someone had to decide to include basketball in the Olympics, someone had to recognize volleyball “deserves” to be a part of it. Other than classical Greek disciplines, all sports were an outsider at some point. If you haven’t been watching that scene closely, you’ll be surprised to find out that karate and sport climbing are among the newest additions to the Olympic family, and it’s 2020, if you need reminding. Baseball and softball are also just being reintroduced after their debut in 2008. So why would the future for eSports be different? Once enough time passes to convince decision makers gaming is obviously here to stay, all bets are off. But, there’s more to it than that.
How Difficult It Is To Become An Olympic Sport?
The topic of gaming becoming Olympic sport has been around for some time now, and although some would say it’s very much blown out of proportion, it’s kind of impossible for it not to be, since the sheer size of it dictates that dynamic. First of all, it brings up the question what categorizes as a sport, and especially what categorizes as an Olympic sport. If we go by a classical Oxford definition, a sport would be “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. So it has to be physical. What about chess? They are fighting their battle for some time also, but they were denied once again for Tokyo 2020, and are going in for another fight for inclusion in Paris 2024.
And speaking about chess, it’s important to mention that the list of Olympic sports is probably a lot shorter than you think, or, in other words, there is a large number of well-know and long standing sports that never made it to the Olympic status. For instance, there was a limit of only 28 sports per Games until this year – they’ve just decided to change that. So when you look at it from that perspective, it seems as though it simply isn’t the time for eSports yet. Which doesn’t mean the discussion shouldn’t be led, even if it leaves people like Ninja very angry. In a recent interview with GQ he said “we don’t need gaming to be a bona fide sport” and that if “they” think gaming is somehow going to taint it, then “we don’t want it”.
The Inevitable Future Is Coming
So, on one side there are mainstream sports, from which many aren’t even in the Olympic family just yet, and the mammoth organization called International Olympic Committee (IOC) which pulls all the strings, and on the other young and fast growing gaming industry who won’t allow being dismissed for too long. That is an overly simplified dichotomy, but it is the one everybody seems to face.
And while that stands, it’s best to concentrate on what we have, rather than on what there might be. The world of esports is changing either way you look at it, and it seems to be going in the right direction, even by the “Olympic standards”: gamers are healthier than ever, they train regularly, have strict regimes just like mainstream athletes, teams of experts and analysts are forming to help them improve their game. The audience is getting bigger by the day, and popularity is one of the main arguments lobbyists use when trying to get IOC’s approval, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Also, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the new generations, who grew up playing those e-games just like past generations grew up playing football and basketball, are soon going to be the opinion makers and the one’s making decisions.
Until that happens, it’s probably good to think about another idea Ninja also mentioned: why not just make an eSports Olympics?
And don’t forget, in Asia, the future is already here, and we are going to be right there with them, watching 2022 Asian Games, just as we pay close attention to all of the biggest tournaments in CS:GO, LOL and Dota 2. To make everything extra fun, join us, play for free today.