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Short answer yes.

Long answer? Oh right. Long answer, yes as well. Longer answer still? Well, I guess we should talk about what exactly is ‘Sports’, how does eSport cover the basis of what is traditionally considered ‘sports’ and why yes indeed it is very much Sports in the most untraditional way.

For centuries, our forefathers had developed a means to curb their mundane lives, to add some excitement, to get fit, to socially interact with the common man and be humans! This gave sports the cultivation it needed; centuries of kicking, punching, throwing, passing, jumping, running etc. At first these brutish actions were the necessary to prevail and win in their respective sports and these are still honed skills to this day. Yet one thing also grew out from amongst the physical training. Mental training. The way of reading the opponent, the way to act upon a way to manipulate the way your opponent feels and thinks. This is insanity and it is where sports has gotten my interests.

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Clearly the definition of sports has evolved from what our ancestors would be used to. But then again, with the way society has changed and advanced, it’s no wonder other aspects of society has changed. Mind games definitely has a huge part to play in sports now a days, but that doesn’t mean that sports can’t be mind games.

For instance, Chess has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a sport. While the game does not get played in the typical Olympics every four years, it does have its own Olympiad every two years run by the FIDE which is a subsidiary of the IOC. Competitors are just as serious in Chess in order to obtain that legendary Grandmaster title than any other. They put their hours in practicing, flexing their mental muscle constantly, dreaming, working, fighting to obtain their own successes.

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If Chess is too cliche of an example, how about Poker? Well wouldn’t you know it, the International Mind Sports Association has given the go ahead just like Chess’s FIDE and included Poker in their listing of sports. According to Forbes, Poker was included in the top ten richest sporting events. Securing the 9th position with ‘The World Series of Poker’ back in 2011 with a prize winning of over $8.7 million for the winner. Last year, the winner managed to get an impressive $10 million in winnings. Just like Chess, it’s a game of mind power and will. Being able to read the opponent’s bluff and tells, being able to maintain composure and patience, all of that takes a lot of mental fatigue. Something that needs to be honed ritually, especially for these competitors. For reference sake, Dota 2’s The International 5 (TI5) tournament holds the current record for the highest prize pool in eSports with over $17 million USD; with over $6.4 million going to the winning team this year.

Both of these are definitely and irrefutably considered as a sports to this day. You could argue that it’s not ‘traditional’ sports, but for what it’s worth, traditional sports is just that. Traditional. With modern society being as it is, ‘Modern sports’ is the term that people should be affiliating with any sports event now a days. It is this thought through which I believe that eSports is most definitely a modern sports.

It is the common belief that eSports ‘competitors’ merely sit in their chair, stare zombified at a screen and play video games for hours on end. To that I say yes they do. It’s what’s called training. Their every breath, thoughts and dedication is to the craft that they hone. Whether it is Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite, Counter-Strike: GO, Starcraft II, Street Fighter 4 or any other numerous games; these competitors are serious about improving themselves in order to achieve their own goals. In that sense, wouldn’t it be undeniable that they compete and therefor are competitors? Some of these competitors are giving it their all, sacrificing their livelihoods and even closing doors to other future ventures by putting their all into something that they truly believe in. What they do is nothing to shrug or laugh at; and it’s for that sentiment, fans flock and support their favourite competitors.

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What is a sport without an audience? As I mentioned before, sports is a means to connect to the common man, and an eSport is no different. With the age of technology rising and the internet becoming such an incredible source for quite literally everything sans spoon feeding you food, it’s no surprise that television as a medium to watch sports has taken quite a backseat as internet accessibility has taken the middleman out and given the spectators an easy and convenient way to watch their favourite sports.

TV ratings plummet as the youth of today flock to the internet to get their entertainment. For this sake, TV is trying to include and embrace the internet as much as possible to sustain itself. So what does that mean for eSports? Well notice the ‘e’ before sports. It is as much of as an suggestion on what platform these sports will thrive on; and that’ll be the electronic stage. That said, it’s nothing like watching your favourite players up close by actually attending the events; which yes there are still many special eSport events you can attend such as TI5 which is well under way as of this article’s written date! It’s all a matter of tapping into the eSports scene. I mean, League of Legends boasts an incredible number of active players and by essence fans; over 67 million players back in January last year.

As I mentioned TV has embraced eSports, recall the Heroes of the Dorm event where ESPN 2 had showed footage of the grand final match. Youth of the world scrambled to turn on their TV to watch this strange occurrence, old gruff sports goers sneered and sent angry tweets in protest. But aside from that can of worms, ESPN remained relevant, by pushing eSports as something that it very much is; sports. Heck even a host of ESPN was blown away by the craziness that was Heroes of the Storm.

Zany isn’t it? But hey, change is still hard and the whole ESPN 2 shenanigans won’t exactly please everyone, especially these well meaning folks.

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You can’t change everyone’s mind. But you can be proud of the progress eSports has made to be taken more seriously if it’s being broadcasted globally!

Well what about the fitness aspect I brought up? Well for starters, I won’t mince words, these competitors aren’t exactly the epitome of the traditional sense of ‘fitness’. But that’s not to say they’re the most unfit people around. In any sports, competitors want to reach their peak. That applies just as much to eSports competitors. Routinely, team coaches will push their team to go out and get exercise. The point isn’t to make them incredibly strong physically, but to debrief their mind, refresh their spirits, keep their mind young and healthy. Exactly what some light exercise does for anybody. In a game of Starcraft II, the player must have the most dextrous fingers in order to micro and macro manage their units. This involves lots of hand exercises, lots of flexing throughout their body in order to remain nimble and loose. Dota 2 players have to make sure their reactions are on point. It’s imperative therefore that their mind isn’t dull and is sharp as possible through the right foods and a healthy refreshed mind from a bit of light exercise to break the mundane.

I believe that might have been too much of a longer version. Well, to sum up, there have been mind games that have very much been approved as sports especially in this day and age. The nonsense that eSports and video games can not be sports is rubbish. Sports as a term has evolved so much from what it used to be, and this is the natural progressive branch that sports has now undergone. Traditional sports hasn’t disappeared or gone into obscurity and is still alive as ever as long as there are people who are serious about improving in it. It is this shared sentiment with eSport competitors; with their own desires to succeed and in being the best in their respective game, that makes me believe that eSports shouldn’t even be the term anymore. After all, it’s all ‘Sports’ in the grand scheme of things.