Face off: can an e-sport be considered a sport?

Face off: can an e-sport be considered a sport?

Each week, two of our readers debate a hot topic in a parliamentary-style debate that doesn’t necessarily reflect their personal viewpoint. This week...

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Big tournaments are a spectacle, but are e-sports really sports?
Photo: Dickson Lee/SCMP

Benjamin Oh, 16, Chinese International School
Yes, an e-sport can definitely be considered a sport.

What defines a sport has always been a pretty contentious question. We consider many physical activities to be sports, and major sporting events are often a gathering of a bunch of various physical sports.

Most sports are physical, but this doesn’t mean all physical activities are sports. For that matter, not all sports have to be physical. We’ve seen, in recent years, mental games steadily gaining acceptance. It would be backward and anti-progressive of us to not to accept e-sports as sports.

I propose three conditions to keep in mind when we determine if something’s a sport or not, adopted from international sports federation SportAccord’s definition. If something fulfils all three categories that it should be viewed as a sport.

The first of the three conditions is that a sport should have competition – it’s no fun if there isn’t any, and e-sport is full of competition.

The second is that a sport should not rely on luck. There should be skill involved in winning. There’s an obvious distinction between the best and worst players in any e-sport, and like any traditional sport, it takes practice to get good at it.

The last condition, and perhaps most important, is that there should be real effort – e-sport players train like physical athletes have to for their chosen field. Just because they’re having fun while doing so shouldn’t mean the time they put into it should be discounted.

I really do think e-sports should be considered sports. There’s no harm in classifying it as such, and it’s not like it taints the good name of sports in general.


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Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari, 17, Li Po Chun United World College
Our many advancements in technology have revolutionised the way we game. What started out as a hobby has now evolved into something no one expected. The internet has given gamers the ability to compete with each another across the world. A game, hat used to be played with one or two players, now can be used for a multiplayer tournament in which players compete for huge cash or high-value prizes.

Professor Ingo Froböse, from the German Sport University in Cologne, became the very first scientist to conduct a study of athletes who compete in e-sports. He found that a sport is not just defined as such by physical movement.

“Sport is more than [the] visible movements you see on a sports field. This is just one component of a big puzzle that defines the term ‘sport’. Mental skill and strategic thinking or training are just a few examples of the other components which influences performance, and all of them can be found in competitive gaming.”

For Froböse then, e-sports yields many benefits to the people who are taking part, and is enjoyable to watch for those not taking part.

Having said that, for me, the conflict lies in whether it should be called a sport or not. Sports has always been seen as physical activity. This mainly comes from its association with several significant sporting events, like the Olympic Games, and the Commonwealth Games. Traditional sporting events like these have almost always consisted of track and field events, water-based sports or team collaboration of the physical kind.

E-sports cannot be considered as sports then, because there it lacks that physical element.

The idea of e-sports is exciting, appealing and new. Yes, it’s popular, it’s a form of entertainment, and it’s a new range of skills for people to aspire to and to be proud of. Maybe, instead of trying to limit it by defining it as sports, we should let it cultivate its own identity.

Maybe that’s the question we should be answering: why can’t we let e-sports be classified simply as e-sports?

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Can an e-sport be considered a sport?

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