You don’t have to play football to enjoy watching the Super Bowl. You don’t have to be into fighting to enjoy watching the UFC. But if you don’t play videogames, you probably wouldn’t be interested in watching a televised League of Legends tournament. Or would you? The idea of e-sports being a widely followed, globally accepted pastime is really catching on. Blizzcon is going on it’s 10th anniversary, and will be hosting big e-sports tournaments this year. TBS is starting ELeague, a televised gaming league to be aired on primetime television. And now, esports is being recognized by many as a sport worthy of being an Olympic sport with talks of potential, actual inclusion in future Olympics games.
That’s right; esports might have their own place in the Olympics. It makes sense. The Olympics are a tradition in which athletes from hundreds of countries can compete to represent their nation and show pride for their home. And over the years the Olympics have been made widely accessible to many more people, with the addition of the Winter Olympic Games for colder sports, the Paralympic Games, and even the Youth Olympic Games. The Olympics only take place once every four years, so inclusion is important. So why should e-sports be left out?
Unfortunately, it’s a little too late for esports to make it to the 2016 Olympics, but it’s quite possible that they will make the deadline for the 2020 Olympics. The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) had reached out to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) last February, and in early April, the IOC responded with all the information regarding the process and paperwork a sport must undergo to be considered as an Olympic sport. The gears are in motion.
In this process, the IeSF must argue that their sport is worthy of being an Olympic sport, by explaining how it has developed, how popular it is, how important it has been in history and tradition, and perhaps most importantly, how universal the sport is. There should be no problem in explaining the latter. Esports is arguably the most universal sport there is. After all, (despite esports own unique physical challenges like micro and APM) you don’t have to be in great physical shape to play videogames. Men and women can compete on a level playing field, and young adults are every bit as capable as the seasoned veterans of gaming. In fact, esports could fit into the summer, winter, and Youth Olympic Games equally well, and also very easily be a part of the Paralympic Games. It might just be the most universal Olympic sport if it gets approved.
The IeSF, a South organization, is not the only group pushing e-sports in this direction. The UK government is working on putting together the eGames, another new e-sports tournament, but one that will run alongside the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, since they won’t make the cut to be an actual part of the Olympics this year. They have also already planned eGames events to run alongside upcoming Olympic events in 2018 and 2020. "The eGames promises to be an exciting venture that will give eSports competitors across the UK even more opportunities to showcase their talents on an international stage," said Ed Vaizey, the UK’s minister for culture.
It would be a great injustice to exclude e-sports from the Olympics, especially considering some of the ridiculous and weird “sports” that have been featured in the Olympics in the past. Race walking (racing without running), Tug-of-War (I mean, I guess it’s kind of a sport), and Club swinging (literally just swinging clubs around) have all been Olympic sports. If you can earn an Olympic gold medal for being the fastest walker, E-sports like StarCraft II and League of Legends are more than worthy of being considered Olympic games.
E-sports competitors already have plenty of outlets and events where they can rise in the ranks of tens of millions of competitors to compete against their fellow best, often for millions of dollars. It’s about time they had the opportunity to get some gold medals out it. Surely high-intensity Starcraft and CS:GO matches between nations are just as interesting and worthwhile as baton twirling! (Nothing against baton twirlers.)