Should eSports Be Considered Real Sports?

Many coaches and athletes are outraged by the idea that eSports professionals would ever be considered real athletes.

The term eSports professionals makes parents with teens cringe as they imagine their kids giving up playing “actual sports” outdoors to be a “professional gamer.”

Thanks to the media, we imagine all gamers to be stuck to their living room or family den couch for hours at a day, only getting up to relieve themselves. Most eat a poor excuse for a meal as they aggressively pound on their console controllers yelling into their headset microphones at an opponent living half across the world.

But while the majority of parents and other adults refuse ever to accept eSports as a real sport, scientists at the German Sports University conducted a study on eSports athletes, and the results have been pretty interesting.

It appears that eSports athletes and traditional athletes have more in common than we thought.

Professor Ingo Froböse, an expert in prevention and rehabilitation at the German Sports University, is one of the first to conduct a study on eSports “athletes.” It appears that just like “normal” athletes, eSports professionals also train extensively and feel the physical strains of competing in a tournament.

“We were particularly impressed by both the demands placed on the motor skills and their capabilities. The eSports athletes achieve up to 400 movements on the keyboard and the mouse per minute, four times as much as the average person. The whole thing is asymmetrical, because both hands are being moved at the same time and various parts of the brain are also being used at the same time,” Froböse said.

Similarities of eSports professionals and traditional athletes

There are strategy games such as League of Legends or Counter Strike that are extremely complex. Just as a traditional athlete requires the function of their motor skills to understand and physically execute a play, an eSports professional requires their motor skills and a heightened understanding of tactical strategies to defeat their opponent.

Motor Skills and Physical Demands

It appears that both eSports professionals and traditional athletes produce a similar amount of cortisol, that powerful hormone that is produced that makes an athlete experience overtraining syndrome. Combine this with a pulse that beats as high as 160 to 180 beats per minute, equivalent to running a marathon. This being said, does that mean that eSport professionals also require the same level of motor skills and endurance that traditional athletes train to achieve?

Training and Sportsmanship

While this doesn’t apply to all eSports professionals, there is a considerable amount of preparation involved just as traditional athletes train and practice.

eSports professionals are often part of a team and have a coach who ensures that they are eating right, getting enough sleep, practicing regularly, and preparing themselves mentally.

Much like traditional sports teams, eSports teams are composed of teammates who eventually become friends and comrades who trust each other as their gaming relationships could have a positive effect in the way they play at tournaments.

In conclusion, many will never fully accept eSports as a real sport. And they are probably the same ones who don’t consider chess or poker a real sport either. When most people think of sports, they don’t think of activity that is predominantly mind-based with a limited amount of physical activity. Rather, they think of real sports as a game requiring the full range of physicality.