By Tommy Osborne, October 4 2017 —
Recently, eSports — competitive multiplayer video game tournaments — have gained greater relevance on both a local and international scale. ESports fans can watch tournaments featuring popular games like League of Legends through online streaming platforms and participate in them through clubs like the University of Calgary’s eSports Association. Despite their growing popularity, the potential inclusion of eSports in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games has stirred a lot of controversy.
Many argue that eSports should not become an Olympic sport because they involve minimal physical exertion apart from vigorous button-mashing. Traditionally, the Olympics are a celebration of extreme athleticism and the amazing capabilities of the human body. With the inclusion of eSports, many feel this tradition would be diluted, trivializing the intense physical and mental conditioning that Olympians endure.
However, the assumption that gamers are passive and lazy is misinformed. Gaming is mentally strenuous and demands sharp critical thinking skills and strong hand-eye coordination. Just watch the hands of someone playing Street Fighter — it’s seriously impressive.
It takes great dedication and calculation to execute strategies in many eSports games. While eSports may not demand intense physical strength, they showcase human ingenuity, determination and resiliency.
Tony Estanguet, the co-president of the Paris Olympic Bid committee, embraces the idea of eSports in the Olympics. He believes that their addition would open up the Olympics to an even larger audience.
“We can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics,’ ” Estanguet told the Associated Press. “Youth are interested in eSports. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try to find some bridges.”
As technological advancements increasingly impact our daily lives, the Olympics could greatly benefit from the inclusion of eSports. Our sociocultural landscape has evolved to a point where embracing them as an Olympic event makes sense. It would appeal to a larger segment of the population and allow a wider demographic to participate in the Games.
At its core, the Olympics is about community and enriching human experiences. Including eSports as an event would strengthen those values and touch more people.