Are Those Who Participate in eSports Considered Athletes?
An individual who is “particularly excellent at sports or physical activity” is called “an athlete” in the Cambridge Dictionary.
Thus, if electronic sports are genuinely regarded as a sport, as the name says, then people who participate, particularly at the top level, must certainly be considered athletes.
That is, without a doubt, the response that makes the most sense when considering just the language. Still, you may need help persuading some individuals that those who compete professionally in esports are, in fact, athletes.
It is important to look at the issue from both points of view since it is likely to cause disagreements among people.
In light of the above, this essay aims to investigate whether or not those who participate in electronic sports (Esports) should be regarded as athletes and whether or not this is typically the case.
Definitions of What It Means to Be an Athlete
Let’s look at how various dictionaries define the word “athlete” so we may have a more well-rounded understanding of what it means. To begin, we defined an athlete found in the Cambridge Dictionary.
- “An individual who is skilled in a variety of athletic endeavors and other types of physical activity” – The Unabridged Oxford Dictionary
- “A person who has had instruction or experience in activities, sports, or games that require physical strength, agility, or stamina” — Merriam-Webster
- “A person who participates in a sport, most notably athletics or track and field activities, is referred to as an athlete.” – The Official Dictionary of the United Kingdom.
- “A person trained or talented in exercises or competitions involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or activity demanding physical skill;” “A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength.” – Dictionary.com (Dictionary.com)
If we are willing to concede, for the argument, that esports is, in fact, a sport. Those who compete in esports would be considered athletes according to the definitions provided by Oxford and, to some degree, Collins. The requirement of “physical strength, agility, or stamina,” however, means that a professional in esports would not fall under the definitions offered by Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com. However, some argue that esports does require agility, both mental and of the hands, as well as stamina, as competitions frequently last for several hours.
This brings home an important point that truly drives home the heart of the matter. If you are content to consider everybody who participates in any sport an athlete, then those who participate in electronic sports must also be regarded as athletes. On the other hand, if you claim that the only activities that can be classified as marks call for extraordinary levels of physical strength, agility, or stamina, the picture becomes far more complicated. In a separate section, we investigate whether or not esports can be considered a kind of sport; nevertheless, the discussion around whether or not participants can be regarded as athletes is slightly different. Some people, for instance, consider snooker and darts to be sports, but they don’t think that those who make their living at such pursuits can be regarded as athletes.
Obviously, for some people, this is a binary choice between two options, and they are adamant about supporting one of the alternatives. But there are quite a few facets to consider, so let’s look at the debate from both perspectives.
The Players in ESports Are Athletes
There are various reasons why it is reasonable for someone to regard gaming industry professionals as athletes. One reason is that they participate in a sport demanding a lot of concentration and preparation. Since so many individuals play the most popular Esports games, only the best skills may hope to get to the top. It takes a lot of hard work and focused practice over many years to hone and develop the necessary mental and physical abilities. This extraordinary gift is not something that anybody is born with.
In 2020, the online publication Medium presented an analytical piece that analyzed the practices of various esports teams. They discovered that gamers practice together for around 50 hours each week, and in addition to this, many people opt to train alone as well. They can accomplish this while adhering to a specialized food plan since proper nutrition is essential to performance and response times. Much like how it works with other sports, teams will review their previous results with their coach and analyze what went well and what might have been improved.
The training uses cutting-edge technology to emphasize important cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and response speed. The exercises will even be designed to simulate real-life circumstances, complete with the sounds of crowds and shifting lighting, to acclimate the players to the many types of disruptions that they may encounter in a game context. Esports teams increasingly employ fitness instructors as a normal practice. This is in addition to the fact that training is directly tied to the game. Being in better physical shape can make all the difference, and it has a direct impact on reaction times, endurance, and the ability to maintain concentration for extended periods. The margins between winning and losing are so small that being in better physical shape can make all the difference.
According to research that the Queensland University of Technology conducted in 2020, the result is that esports players are between 9 and 21 percent more likely to be at a healthy weight compared to the overall population. The notion that individuals who play video games competitively are sedentary and overweight is decisively challenged by the fact that they smoke much less and drink significantly less. According to the research, professional esports players spend more than an hour each day participating in physical exercise as a tactic to improve gaming and manage stress. This is part of their training schedule.
While there is still less emphasis on cardiovascular exercise compared to other sports, the average week in the life of an esports player is quite similar to that of a professional athlete in a “conventional sport.” The notion that those competing in eSports spend all day sitting around in their underpants and playing video games into the early morning hours is completely false. The need to maintain a balanced diet, a reasonable degree of physical fitness, regular sleep, and other elements of one’s well-being is often emphasized. Esports pros have come considerably closer to what many people would consider being a ‘regular’ athlete due to all of these factors.
Players in esports are not considered to be athletes
The definitions of an athlete we presented often refer to a person’s physical prowess and ability to compete in a sport requiring significant physical effort. This most contributes to the more conventional conception of what an athlete is. After all, “athletic physique” refers to a person with a respectable amount of muscular mass and a very low proportion of body fat. It is necessary to have an “athletic” build to compete at the highest levels in various sports, which many people desire to achieve. Having a six-pack also comes with having an “athletic” body. You could come across a football player, often a goalie, who is carrying a little extra weight from time to time, but in general, everyone who plays at the upper levels will have a perfect body.
While professionals in esports may engage in some degree of physical preparation, it is in no way comparable to the amount of preparation necessary for sports such as tennis, rugby, football, and most of the more conventional sports. They compel them to consistently put in arduous workouts that test the boundaries of their physical capabilities. Due to the significance of preserving and enhancing one’s physical strength, attending the gym consistently is practically obligatory. Throughout a 90-minute football game, a normal player will likely run 10 or 11 kilometers, with numerous high-intensity sprints included in this total distance. On the other hand, rugby players may be able to travel 7 kilometers in 80 minutes, but they confront an extra level of toughness in the form of having to survive all of the bruising challenges.
In the end, few people would look at someone competing in esports and say, “wow, they are such an athlete.” There may be a few outliers who also have a strong interest in physical fitness, but even for them, going to the gym is more of a pastime than a necessary component of their success in esports. Players in other sports, such as darts and snooker, to mention only two examples, are subject to the same criticism. Fitness is taken much more seriously today than in the past, and some pros in these sports may be quite athletic and have a high level of physical fitness. However, only a small percentage of athletes consider this the most important factor in their success in their chosen sports.
Is There Currently An Agreement On This Matter?
Never in a million years. When it comes to whether or not those who compete in esports are, in fact, athletes, there is a wide variety of different perspectives. While we can appreciate the merits of both sides of the argument, there is a more compelling argument in favor of the latter, even though some individuals may be under the impression that the former is the more persuasive argument.
In recent years, there has been a substantial shift toward treating participants in competitive electronic sports like traditional athletes in the sector that oversees these competitions. The majority make an honest effort to care for their bodies to perform on the field to the best of their ability. Esports competitors are closing the gap between themselves and “athletes” who compete in more traditional sports because of their dedication to consistent training, genuine concern for their diet, and astonishing levels of mental stamina. Despite this, there is still a gap, and given that it will never be closed in its entirety, we do not anticipate that an agreement will be reached over this issue for a considerable amount of time.
Many people will inevitably question whether or not it matters how we regard professionals in the field of eSports, as well as whether or not we even consider it to be a sport at all. It was once said that “a rose by any other name would smell as good,” written by a prominent resident of Stratford-upon-Avon. While the words we use to describe things affect how others see them, this statement is accurate for the most part. Many individuals, particularly those of a certain age, believe that esports is “simply people playing computer games.”
The professionals who compete in electronic sports would be accorded much more respect if they were seen as athletes competing in a game that calls for exceptional ability and commitment. Considering the seven-figure prize money that is up for grabs in the most prestigious competitions, they can probably get by just fine without the approval and praise of members of the Baby Boomer and Generation X generations.