Esports have become a huge part of the entertainment industry, with millions of people watching tournaments for games like League of Legends and Overwatch. Recently, there has been a push for esports to be accepted into the Olympics as a full-fledged sport.
In this article, we’ll break down the various pros and cons of having esports as part of the Olympics, as well as look at the various arguments for and against the idea.
Is Esports Part of Olympics
Esports is an umbrella term used to describe organized, competitive video game playing. It usually involves several players or teams competing against each other in online tournaments with gamers from all over the world. This form of competition is becoming increasingly popular, and many countries are starting to recognize esports as a legitimate sport.
With the rise in popularity of esports, some people have made a call to have it included at the Olympic Games. The Olympic Council of Asia announced that esports would appear at the 2022 Asian Games as a medal sport, making them the first international sporting event to offer medals for competitive video game playing. There are many reasons why some people think this will be beneficial, including increasing youth engagement both in spectator sports and in physical activity, providing an avenue for professional recognition and giving recognition to highly skilled players in these types of games who may not get attention through traditional sports pathways.
However, there has been some opposition from those who don’t think that it should qualify as a sport in the traditional sense, such as by signing contracts with sponsors or even getting covered by their national Olympic committees. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says that esports “could be considered” for inclusion at future editions of the Games but has yet to make any concrete decisions about whether or not it will become part of their program one day. Without official recognition from the IOC, it is unlikely that we will ever see competitive gaming at the Olympics anytime soon but if they do eventually come around to it there could be a significant impact on both gaming culture and larger sports culture worldwide.
Overview of Esports
Esports began as a hobby and have since exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Over the past decade, competitive gaming has become increasingly popular and accepted as mainstream entertainment. There are now professional teams, tournaments and sponsorships available to gamers of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels. With this increased popularity comes the idea of making ‘esports’ an official part of the Olympics program.
The concept of esports in the Olympics is relatively new, with debate over its viability beginning in 2018 when it was first proposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Esports could potentially fit under the existing Olympic program as a virtual sport that combines physicality, strategy and playing ability. It could challenge players’ reflexes, mental stamina, coordination skills and overall fitness – necessary components for other traditional sports categories in the Olympics such as skating or skiing.
The rise of esports has been staggering: in 2013 there were only a few million viewers around the world watching competitive gaming events but by 2019 this had grown to hundreds of millions with prize pools reaching up to $20 million USD across all games. Esports is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of entertainment among younger demographics and continues to evolve in complexity – thus making it an attractive option for Olympic inclusion.
Reasons for the Push to Include Esports in the Olympics
Esports, or competitive video gaming, has rapidly become an industry worth billions, and it has been gaining popularity around the world. This has caused many to call for the inclusion of esports in the Olympics. There are several reasons why some people are so intent on making this a reality. This article will explore the different motivations that are pushing for Esports to part of the Olympics.
Increased Popularity of Esports
The popularity of esports has grown exponentially in recent years, and this has made it even more attractive as an Olympic sport. The industry is estimated to be worth almost 2 billion USD and is projected to reach 2.96 billion USD by 2022. As the popularity of esports grows, it gains more attention from sponsors looking to get involved in the sport and adds some legitimacy to claim a spot in the Olympic Games.
Additionally, with the rise of streaming services like Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Microsoft Mixer, more people than ever have access to watch esports events online. This has allowed for huge tournaments like The International for Dota 2, Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and League of Legends Championship series (LCS) to become a regular fixture on many gamers’ calendars throughout the year.
Furthermore, accessible games on consoles like NBA2K21 or FIFA 21 which now include esports leagues have allowed more people who may not generally have access to a gaming PC have an opportunity to compete in esports events at all levels – from amateur leagues up to major international tournaments. This level playing field makes it easier for players around the world with different levels of income or access to technology or tournaments, still be able participate and compete – essentially making Esports one of the world’s most accessible forms of competition which has helped fuel its growth in recent years.
Increased Professionalization of Esports
One of the main reasons why some are pushing for esports to be included in the Olympics is because the professionalization and maturity of esports has increased greatly in recent years. The industry has seen explosive growth and now boasts millions of viewers worldwide, many top players and teams making millions in salaries, numerous international tournaments with million-dollar purses, and an entire infrastructure of sponsors, support staff, coaches, and broadcasters.
Moreover, organized leagues such as Major League Gaming (MLG), DreamHack Masters Series (DHS), Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) series of tournaments have implemented strict rules that show that esports is truly transforming into a “true” sport. With team owners investing high amounts of money into their teams similar to how traditional sports clubs spend on their athletes, this level of professionalism is beginning to spill into the general public‘s view.
The introduction of major leagues promoted by mainstream companies like Turner Broadcasting System’s ELEAGUE or Electronic Arts’ EA Sports’ FIFA Interactive World Cup further helps to legitimize esports as a legitimate competition that should be considered for potential participation at the Olympic games. Additionally, certain legal measures such as the Player Protection Policy recently created by the French Esports Federation will help ensure the safety and respect for all those involved in professional gaming competitions; creating a much more positive image for those pushing for its inclusion in future Olympic games.
Wider Reach of Esports
As the popularity of esports increases and more people come to recognize them as part of the sports world, the push to make it an official Olympic event grows. The potential wider reach of esports is a large motivator for this.
This idea has been backed up in various reports, one from Deloitte concluding that annual global revenues from esports are estimated to reach $3bn by 2021. Existing research into eSports viewing habits also suggest that there is a considerably bigger audience compared with traditional sports like rugby or golf. Those who follow e-sports are enticed into watching for the fun of it, over and above any competitive aspect – something that Olympics committee’s across the world can tap into and expose their sponsors’ products further.
In addition, when compared with traditional sports competitors, e-sports professionals are usually from younger generations – with an average age around 24 – meaning that they are well placed to attract younger viewers and audiences not currently drawn in by more conventional sporting events as part of their Olympic offering.
Furthermore, modern technology makes live streaming games on online platforms second nature – which allows young fans mixed with seasoned veterans to watch global competitions without even leaving their bedroom – meaning that while traditional broadcasting remains valuable in exposing televised content, streaming platforms have become lucrative opportunities for authorities looking to capitalize on sports passion in the digital age.
Challenges to Including Esports in the Olympics
Many people have been pushing for esports to be included in the Olympic Games. With the increasing popularity of esports, both amongst the players and the viewers, it has become an attractive prospect for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to consider. However, there are many challenges that need to be navigated before esports can become part of the Olympic Games.
Lack of Standardization
One of the greatest challenges to including esports in the Olympics is the lack of standardization among competitive gaming events. Unlike other Olympic sports, which have clearly defined rules and regulations, competitive gaming has many different organizations, formats, and games. This presents a problem for Olympic organizers as they would need to determine which games should be included and under what rules or formats.
Moreover, this lack of standardization means that some esports may have multiple governing bodies for different regions or countries. As an example, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is governed by The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC). Meanwhile, League of Legends is ran by two separate governing bodies — The Korea Esports Association (KeSPA) based in South Korea and Riot Games based in California. Coordinating international competition under such circumstances could be a difficult and prohibitively expensive process.
Additionally, professional esports teams are not generally unified under one umbrella organization like their traditional sporting counterparts. All Team USA athletes may compete in a variety of physical sports at the Olympics but there are currently no global teams composed solely of professional gamers competing together as one country at events like the Olympics or other international tournaments on behalf of their respective nations.
Organizing international competitions between global teams owned by various corporations representing different countries could cause further logistical problems for Olympic organizers due to issues surrounding team branding and marketing rights to sponsorships during Olympic events. These points demonstrate how difficult it is for organizers to bring diverse aspects of nation political policies around gaming under one uniform set of rules for inclusion in the Olympics.
Lack of International Regulation
One of the biggest challenges to including esports in the Olympics is the fact that there is no international governing body or unified set of rules for the sport. This often results in confusion and inconsistency across different games and different tournaments, making it difficult to have standardized rules that apply to all esports.
The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) has been pushing for more regulations and standardization of esports in an effort to make it viable for potential inclusion in the Olympics. IeSF has already started creating rules and regulations for specific games that could be included as Olympic sports, such as a rulebook used in global tournaments. However, lack of collaboration from other organizations is a roadblock since many esport companies are reluctant to join forces with regional regulators if it means giving up control over their product or intellectual property.
In addition, cultural differences between countries can create obstacles when trying to align on one set of international rules for all sports. Because of this, there is a need for greater dialogue between countries participating in esports to come up with regulations that accommodate various local laws and customs. Until then, these varying perspectives can hinder any progress toward legislation that could pave the way for inclusion into bigger sporting events like the Olympics.
Lack of Recognition by Traditional Sports Organizations
Despite the huge growth in esports viewership and prize money, the activity is still viewed with doubt by traditional sports organizations. In particular, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been slow to recognize esports even as part of their other major events.
This lack of recognition is due to several factors, including a lack of consistent regulation across different esports titles and organizations, a perception that video gaming lacks physical activity or traditional team organization, and uncertainty around classifying issues such as betting as part of video gaming championships. As such, there is no way of guaranteeing that any kind of regulations provided for one title would apply to all others in which case furthering the Olympics inclusion would prove more difficult.
The IOC has also expressed concerns about violence in some games as well as its connection with betting/gambling. Although there are titles available that do not feature violent content or gambling elements they often do not attract nearly as large an audience as some of the bigger titles featuring both categories. This further hinders attempts at establishing esports’ legitimacy by IOC or other traditional sports organizations and limits its chances of becoming an Olympic sport.
Esports have been gaining massive popularity in recent years and has caused multiple countries to push for esports to be included in the Olympics. With esports technology advancing and the increasing support from multiple countries all around the world, it is likely that esports will be part of the Olympics in the near future. This article will examine the arguments for and against the inclusion of esports in the Olympics.