Only a few years ago, when asked the question, “What is your favorite sport?” the answer of video games would have not come to mind. Now in 2016, video games are not just considered a simple pastime, but also as a competitive sport, gaining a specific title called eSports. Although eSports is a recent phenomenon, it already has a massive, rapidly growing fan base.
Although this addition is controversial, there is no doubt that video games have reshaped people’s definition of sports. Since people have thought of sports as specifically physical exertion, the addition of video games has made the definition much more generalized. Although eSports may differ from conventional sports, the general feeling, concept, and atmosphere remain the same. The competitive vibe, the camaraderie, and the entertainment itself is no different from conventional sports, which is what makes so many people enjoy sports.
To show the enormity of eSports, League of Legends, the most played PC game in the world according to Statista.com, hosted a world championship finals which had approximately 36 million unique viewers compared to the 20 million unique viewers of the 2015 NBA Finals. Basketball, considered one of the most popular traditional sports, racked up a sizeable amount of viewership. However, the League of Legends champion viewership has already met and surpassed the NBA finals viewership by 1.8 times. In addition, since the eSports scene is relatively young, the number is likely to grow substantially in the future.
The popularity of eSports has even spread to college campuses, as scholarships are offered to avid and talented gamers. This began in 2014, when Robert Morris University gave $500,000 in scholarships to gamers. Other universities such as UC Irvine, Harvard, UCLA, and more began to give these scholarships as well. In total, approximately 10,000 students have received these eSport scholarships, which is substantially greater than men’s college Division 1 hockey, basketball, and soccer players. In addition, since only a small amount of colleges offer eSports scholarships, the current 10,000 students is expected to rise much more.
“As of right now, eSports is too young to make a judgement” said Pramit Mazumder, a Freshman at Brea High School in an interview with JSR. “Since it’s young and undeveloped, it has some problems. However, these problems will be fixed one way or another as time goes on. The overall concept of eSports makes competition more available to the public and it is extremely fun to watch for the informed person.”
Every new establishment will run through conflicts and problems, but as eSports continues to make trailblazing moves, its issues will be resolved and the video game scene will continuously improve the sports industry.
When someone asks you “What is your favorite sport?” maybe you will now consider video games as one of your options.