Monday, October 06, 2014

Are Esports Truly Sports?

The president of ESPN says "no", but his network broadcasts poker games.  We'll probably be seeing esports broadcasts very soon:
As a teenager, holed up in his bedroom, illuminated by the glow of his laptop, Youngbin Chung became addicted to video games. Ten-hours-a-day addicted.

His grades tanked. His parents fretted.

A few years later, the 20-year-old from the San Francisco area leads a team of headset-wearing players into virtual battle in a darkened room at a small private university in Chicago. He's studying computer networking there on a nearly $15,000 a year athletic scholarship — for playing League of Legends, the video game that once jeopardized his high school diploma.

"I never thought in my life I'm going to get a scholarship playing a game," said Chung, one of 35 students attending Robert Morris University on the school's first-in-the-nation video game scholarship...

Robert Morris, a not-for-profit university with about 3,000 students, believes those are not so different from the skills one uses on a football field or a basketball court and that spending money to recruit these students, too, will enrich campus life and add to its ranks of high-achieving graduates.

"It's coming; it's coming big time," Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher said of the esports trend and what he's sure is its looming recognition by a bigger chunk of the collegiate sports world.

Hundreds of other colleges and universities have esports clubs, but Robert Morris is the first to recognize it as a varsity sport under its athletic department.   link
I sometimes question whether golf is a sport or not, so for me there's no question whether video games are, or are not, a sport.  A college can have any sort of team it wants, but to call such games "sports" truly stretches the meaning of the word--which makes me wonder why someone would choose that particular word for such games, and what they expect to gain by doing so.


Jerry Doctor said...

"If it can't kill you, it's not a sport."

Darren said...

Rather than finding the comment here, I received the following via email:

Is extending sports to include electronic-game competitions really that
different from extending marriages to include same-sex couples?

I mean, is there really anymore reason why sports have to be
physically-active than marriages have to be between opposite-sex

If marriage means any type of relationship between consenting adults,
surely sport can include any type of competition between consenting
adults, right? If homosexuals can marry, surely disabled people* can
play sports, right?

*who can only play video games competitively

It's an opinion, all right, but certainly not one that I'd hold.

Steve USMA '85 said...

At the college my kids went to, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) there is no football team. However, there is a cheer squad complete with pretty young ladies with pom-poms & choreographed routines.

Who do they cheer for? Well the chess team of course! The UMBC chess team has won more championships at the US and Pan Am level then any other institution. When new students come for Freshman orientation, the cheerleaders come in to cheer as the team members are introduced by the college president. All of the main team members are on a full scholarship because of chess.

Really very interesting. So much so, 60 Minutes did a special on the president and featured the chess team during the segment.

Darren said...

Are they athletic scholarships? Is the NCAA involved in the chess team?

maxutils said...

My take is ... the university wouldn't do this unless it were financially advantageous to them. And my guess? Since they aren't making money off of this? Is that it's a publicity stunt to get there name in the news to drum up business. And it worked ... at least, the first part.