BY RYAN MERARD
One of the most prominent figures in the electronic sports (eSports) world, Tyler “Ninja” Belvins, recently stirred up some controversy around the competitiveness of gaming. Ninja went on a rant on Twitch—while he was live-streaming—about his fans telling him that “it’s just a game” whenever he gets mad over losing a game of Fortnite. This rant has divided viewers on whether or not eSports are considered sports, as they differ from sports in various ways.
He claimed that having an “it’s just a game” mindset is weak and that players should get angry when they lose. He also took his argument to Twitter shortly after the stream to let his opinion be heard on how serious gaming should be taken.
A video of him ranting on his stream went viral on Twitter and led him to some backlash. People are not mad that he called the mentality of some of the fans “weak,” but rather that he compared his anger from losing in a video game to professional athletes.
Many believe that playing video games is not a sport, so the comparison Ninja made to LeBron James and Tom Brady may seem invalid to some. Whether or not playing eSports is actually considered a sport has always been a controversial topic in the athletic world.
However, the amount of work put in by athletes at the gym and on their playing fields cannot be compared to someone sitting down and moving their fingers.
Dictionary.com describes a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” At first, it may seem like playing video games fits that description because of the repeated hand movements. However, the amount of work put in by athletes at the gym and on their playing fields cannot be compared to someone sitting down and moving their fingers.
While it does require hours of practice and skills—such as hand-eye coordination—eSports does not fit the guidelines for traditional sports when the only part of the body moving is their hands.
Even former ESPN president John Skipper held this belief in his statement, “It’s not a sport — it’s a competition, chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition,” which is rational.
Video games are very tasking and competitive, classifying something as a sport cannot be based solely on those qualities. If this was the case, activities such as competitive cooking, which most certainly requires more physical activity than gaming, would have to be considered a sport.
Calling these video games “sports” is like calling YouTube videos “TV shows.” All are entertaining, but they’re different in important and noticeable ways.
Many will argue that eSports have all the features that official sports have such as huge competitions, team cooperation and scholarship opportunities from universities. These are all features of sports, but placing video games in the same genre as a sport makes them more than what they actually are. Calling these video games “sports” is like calling YouTube videos “TV shows.” All are entertaining, but they’re different in important and noticeable ways.
You should not have to worry about your health deteriorating from playing a sport for long periods of time. However, video game players may do just that because they are usually sitting for hours while playing, stopping themselves from being mobile, and having to engage in other physical activities to keep themselves healthy.
eSports should always be known as an activity that requires lots of practice to be successful at, but should not be considered a traditional sport because they lack one of the main aspects of traditional sports: physical activity. It is best that eSports are looked at as professional entertainment because of their competitiveness. Having the name eSports suits them nicely into their own special group, but when using a general term such as “sports,” video games should not be mentioned because they are just not the same when it comes to activity.
Photo courtesy of NBC News