Have you ever wondered why eSports isn’t an Olympic sport? Maybe you think it’s not physically demanding enough to be considered an Olympic sport or that there’s not enough demand to watch it. Or maybe you think it sounds like a great idea and should definitely be part of the next Olympics. As you can see there’s a lot to discuss and many different views to cover, here’s what you need to know.
This first important thing to consider if eSports is to become an Olympic event is the game. If eSports did become an Olympic sport, who or how would they determine which game would be played? This brings a lot of problems in its own right.
The Olympics takes place every 4 years and many events have been part of the Olympics for over 100 years such as the 100m sprint, Fencing and Cycling to name a few. If eSports did become an Olympic sport how would they pick a game that would that would last 100 years or more? Or instead of picking a specific game they would change it every few years? This would then cause problems for the competitors training for it, and would people would still be interested in the game 100 years on?
It could be possible that they decide to make different categories and events of games such as first person shooters, strategy, and MOBAS. This would allow them to choose more games and cater to many different types of fans as well.
If they had to pick a game then the most obvious choice would probably be League of Legends due to its high popularity and fan base. DOTA 2, Counter-Strike and Overwatch could also be good contenders for other events as well due to their popularity. But that still brings us back to the same question, how do you keep the fans and audience enjoying the game?
World of Warcraft was a big game when it came out and quickly grew to over 12 million subscribers. Since then the game has lost millions of subscribers and is nowhere near as popular as it once was. Whatever game they chose would have to be constantly updated and have unlimited hours of gameplay in order to please the fans and players.
Another problem that arises is the debate between a sport and competition. Some people argue that only sports should be in the Olympics and not competitions. So what is the difference between a sport and a competition? Well it can be argued that a competition is subject to a judge's score which is not consistent and can vary between judges. This means it's a matter of opinion and one judge could score a 6 while another scores a 10. Obviously this can cause problems.
Sporting events on the other hand like soccer are more clearly defined as they either score a goal or not. Sure the referee can call offside and give penalties but this rarely happens and does not influence the game as much as judges scoring competitors.
The other argument is should only sports that are physically demanding be allowed in the Olympics such as athletics and swimming or should any competitive sport be allowed? eSports might not be the most physically demanding sport but it still requires great mental skills such as focus, stamina and discipline. In fact, there are a few sports currently in the Olympics that might be considered not physically demanding. Let’s have a look at some of the current Olympic sports that aren’t exactly the most physically demanding...
Archery requires great skill to hit the target from 70m away. But let’s be honest does archery involve any running around, heavy lifting or stamina? Not really. But you can’t argue the fact it takes great skill to get a bulls eye from over 70 meters away. You could also argue it takes great skill and knowledge of the game to be successful in eSports, although there is no physical demand.
Also referred to as “horse riding” the sport is split into 3 disciplines, dressage, eventing and jumping with each one having its own competitors. Although it might be argued it takes great skill to control the horse, the riders spend most of the time sat on them while they gallop and jump.
It’s easy to see why some people might not deem it a sport. Judges are also involved in scoring the events especially the dressage which again can make it sound more like a competition that a sport. It’s also the only Olympic sport to have animals in it. In fact the horses are considered as much as an athlete as the rider.
BOOM HEADSHOT is definitely something you won’t hear at the Olympic shooting event. Split into several disciplines across different firearm classes the shooting event is fairly simple. Hit the bulls eye to win. Although it is definitely a sporting event as it is competitive and none of the scores are subjective, it can be argued it’s not very physically demanding. While we agree it takes great skill and effort to hit the bulls eye, doesn’t winning a League of Legends game at a high rank require the same thing?
Now you may or may not agree with us on this one but diving isn’t exactly the most exciting sport. The divers spend more time climbing up the ladders to the diving board and getting out of the pool than performing the dive. The diving event is set across a range of different heights from 3m to 10m and can be individual or partnered.
The scores for the event are judged by judges which change every Olympics and therefore has no consistency amongst the scores. If you changed the judges there it’s highly likely they would give different scores which would affect the final rankings.
All of these sports either scored by judges or aren’t physically demanding. If these events can be in the Olympics then why can’t eSports?
Currently we can’t give you a definitive answer as eSports could be coming to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, it’s only a matter of time until we find out. It’s only recently the International eSports Federation (IeSF) from Korea has received a response from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlining the process and steps required to allow eSports to be recognised as an Olympic sport.
But don’t get too excited just yet, it seems they have also received other applications from 26 different sports including tug of war, sumo wrestling, chess and the card game bridge. For those of you that don’t know a few of these sports actually used to be in the Olympics before they were removed.
Tug of war was held at the summer Olympics from 1900 to 1920 before it was removed. Although there was no specific reason for it being removed as a sport, the International Olympic Committee at the time decided there were way too many sports. Some of them had to go and one of those happened to be tug of war. In addition to tug of war another 33 events were removed from the Olympic Games. So is it likely tug of war could make a comeback to the Olympic Games? Well if it was a sport for 5 Olympics games then it’s highly likely.
The IeSF must now send supporting evidence of the popularity, history, tradition and development of eSports to the IOC. Currently the evaluation process is to being in December with it concluding shortly after. This will give us a better answer as to if it is likely to be accepted or not. For those wanting eSports to be in the Olympic Games then this application needs to be accepted in order for it to progress.
If waiting for the Tokyo 2020 results on which new Olympic sport will be added is too far away, then maybe you should pay close attention to the Rio 2016 Olympics. Back in April it was announced that the British government is backing the International eGames Committee. In cooperation with the International Olympics committee the IeGS will be hosting an eSports event in Rio this year alongside the Olympic Games.
Although the event won't be part of the Olympics or feature on any of the rosters or television the pop up event will be showcasing and promoting competitive video gaming. The medal only event will currently feature teams from Brazil, Great Britain, Canada and the US. As of yet there is no indication which games will be played or how many different events there will be. Be sure to visit the official website closer to the time for more updated information on the event.
So could League of Legends be an Olympic sport? It’s highly feasible but for now we’re still in the early stages and need to wait to see what the IOC have to say. Looking ahead it seems eSports popularity will only continue to grow and grow. Who knows they could be soon giving out gold medals to gamers from all over the world!