You may have read my colleague’s argument that the realm of eSports shouldn’t be in the Olympics in 2024. He does bring up some decent arguments, like it would definitely create controversy and the decision of what games will become medal events will definitely irk some dedicated video game fanbases. However, I don’t necessarily have to agree with what he said. In fact, I would be a staunch advocate for actually allowing the eSports into the Olympics sooner rather than later.
The biggest argument against video games entering the world of Olypics sports would be that you don’t need to be a world class athlete to play them. There’s a belief that there are no physical demands to playing video games because all you’re doing is pushing a mouse around and pressing a few buttons. Well, yeah, that’s what gamers are doing when they command their Heroes to attack and cast wards in League of Legends or aiming through their scopes and shooting at a terrorist/counterterrorist from yards away. They think that gaming is easy and that anyone, even a baby, can do it.
But there’s obviously a little more to that. There’s a lot of precision, reflexed and timing involved which, in my opinion, does need some form of athleticism but it’s a form of athleticism that’s just not evident when you see it. But gamers, especially the ones in the eSports world, know this. They know one slight mistake in timing can ruin your whole plan in a competitive StarCraft battle. One millisecond delay between you seeing that head pop through an alley could mean your elimination from a Overwatch tournament.
Besides, who said you have to be in peak physical condition to be in the Olympics? There are a couple of sports in the Olympics where I don’t think you need a fit body and yet you can earn a medal. There’s the extremely ridiculous sport of equestrian dressage where a person rides on a horse and does a strict dancing routine. And, no. It’s not the person that does the routine; it’s the horse! Essentially, it’s kinda like floor gymnastics but it’s the horse that’s doing most of the work.
Note that I said that the horse is doing most of the work, because I will concede that the rider does have to put some effort into the routine. The rider does have to train the horse and bond with the animal so they can pull off those weird, silly moves. The rider also have to sit up straight and look like she’s not rocked by all the movement. But still, it’s hard to consider equestrian dressage an actual event where you can win a gold medal because, while I will say the person puts a whole lot of work into getting good at it, it’s mostly the horse that does most of the heavy lifting.
Mainstream media can see equestrian dressage as an Olympic sport because it’s in the Games already and has been in there for a long time. But they won’t be able to see the skill of playing video games as something that requires skill. However, that’s actually one of the reasons why it would be great if eSports did break into the Olympic scene: more mainstream exposure.
Even though most people in the world have, once upon a time, played video games, mainstream media still scoff at video games a hobby for basement dwelling introverted nerds who still live with their parents. Well, I think if some certain eSports do become televised events of the Olympics, there’s a chance that the people who dismiss eSports can watch those games and change their minds.
Sounds impossible? Well, the Olympics does have a magical way of sucking you into watching and it just has a way of getting you to watch even the events you don’t really care about but you just become so engrossed with whatever it is on the screen that you just keep watching and watching. I know this has happened to me whenever I watch the Olympics and I’m betting it’s happened to some of you out there. Heck, I even became interested in curling, another sport that inexplicity in the Olympics. Well, the Winter Games, at least.
Now, I could explain that curling is a weird sport that essentially involves a bunch of people polishing ice in front of a moving stone so that it to land in a circle and that it’s kinda ridiculous that people thing it’s okay for curling to be an Olympic sport but not eSports. However, I actually became fascinated by the event when I saw it because, well, it does look kind of stupid but it was the way the Olympics shone a light on the sport that made me okay with it. I actually started to understand the rules and the amount of skill involved to look at a moving stone and just brush just enough to make it go to their desired spot in the target area. I also figured out just by watching the event that the guy who throws the stone has to actually give his toss a little twist so that it keeps moving.
I learned all of that because I watched curling when it was shown in the Olympics and I came out learning so much about it. So, can’t the same thing apply to video games and eSports? I think the biggest barrier to mainstream media’s understanding of eSports is that, like curling, it looks really silly and a rather unathletic endeavor. Well, maybe the Olympics can kinda put highly competitive games like League of Legends under a new light and give it a new image. Maybe these “haters” will find a new appreciation for eSports in the process as well.
Of course, I know it’s a long shot that eSports will be recognized by the Olympics. I mean, chess, despite being a “sport” for so many years isn’t part of the Olympics. But there’s still a chance. eSports will actually officially be part of the 2022 Asian Games, which is a full two years before the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. This would actually be a good testing ground if eSports does deserve to be the Summer Games. If it does well and actually show off that eSports can pull in big ratings, I definitely think the Olympic committee will take notice and think twice about not making League of Legends a medal event when the Summer Games roll in in 2024.
Do you think eSports should be included in the Olympics in the future? Let me know in the comments section below!