Should video games be considered sports?

Athletes and the public alike question whether or not digital competition should be treated like physical activities

Max Schomber, Backpage Editor
Originally published October 15, 2018

Samantha Margot

Samantha Margot

Tyler Blevins, better known as popular “Fortnite” streamer Ninja appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine on Oct. 1 2018. Although this appearance was preceded with direct esports coverage by ESPN, it was a symbol to many of how mainstream video games are becoming.

Yet despite the popularity and media attention they have received, many people claim that esports don’t qualify as a real sport. What draws the line between sports and video games?

Roan Gerrald, junior basketball player, believes that while video games require intense skill and dedication, the element of athleticism and realism found in traditional activities make them distinct from their virtual counterparts. “Sports require a combination of athleticism and skill,” Gerrald said. “Video games don’t involve any sort of athleticism and the skill is too manipulated.”

By no means does Gerrald think that game players don’t go through their own difficulties however, he was quick to acknowledge that both are very demanding. “They are two very different kinds of skills.” Gerrald said.

In the end though, Gerrald is a staunch believer that the two should remain as separate entities, but not that one should be held over the other. “I wouldn’t put video games in the same category as sports,” Gerrald said.

However, some athletes do believe that both should be held in the same light. Freshman football player Cristian Tinoco believes that professional gamers follow the same code of play that he and the rest of his team does. “Commitment, cooperation, conduct, compete,” Tinoco said.

He went on to describe his opinion on what a sport is, which very closely resembles what professional gaming teams practice. “A team effort and commitment,” Tinoco said.

Both of these athletes have very distinct yet similar opinions on what defines a sport and if gaming should be included in the definition. When comparing these definitions to that of the Oxford Dictionary, Gerrald’s definition is very similar to that of an official one: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

Times are changing quickly however–perhaps now is the reckoning of the term’s old definition. Both sides of the argument continue to bring up excellent points and ideas.

At the very least, they can both agree on one thing: it’s still a blast to pick up a ball or a controller and have a friendly competition.