Can we please stop this nonsense?

Listen, I have no issues with video games. In fact, I’ve loved them my entire life.

When I was little, I would walk to the convenience stores around my neighborhood to watch the older kids play the standup games, hoping they’d give me a chance to pop in a quarter. It usually didn’t happen, though.

I can remember playing the original Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo, slowly advancing my way through the levels, and then leaving it on pause for hours while at church because there was no memory back then. When the machine turned off, the game started over from the beginning.

Once I could drive, I’d go to the arcades and waste entire evenings enjoying the chaos of countless games producing flashing lights and loud sounds.

Even as an adult, I’ve owned a number of different systems over the years, and pretty much everybody is addicted to one game or another on their phones.

I actually believe video games are more than merely simple diversions and consider them beneficial tools capable of honing certain reflexes and skills, like hand-eye coordination, concentration and problem solving.

My problem with video games is due to how they are being represented — as sport.

I’m not sure exactly how the label came about, but the term eSports is about as misleading as seeing the words “all natural” on the side of a soda can.

For anyone unaware, eSports are essentially organized tournaments that crown champions for various video games. It can be for one-on-one fighting games or team-based shooting games or anything in between.

I guess I just have a fairly rigid definition of sports, and it doesn’t involve staring at a television screen.

Sports require either a person or team to play both offense and defense, there must be some sort of points scored, and it cannot be judged. Basically, if it doesn’t fit those three criteria, then it isn’t a competition or game of skill.

Therefore, things like golf, auto racing, mixed martial arts or running are not technically sports.

This doesn’t mean the athletes don’t share many if not all of the same traits or that one requires more discipline or preparation than the other, but there is a difference.

Maybe I’m complaining about a technicality, but the world of competitive video game playing is as far from a legitimate sport as poker, spelling bees and American Ninja Warrior.

But the eSports industry generates millions of dollars, drawing stadiums full of fans for its most prominent events. They have airtime on ESPN and Turner Broadcasting stations and even have a tab on And eSports is still only in its infancy.

As a lifelong lover of video games, I’m happy to see how mainstream they have become, and I it’s cool how eSports is bringing together fans and legitimizing competition.

I just wish they’d change the name.

Contact Clay Whittington at

(2) comments


Of course the comment box didn't capture my formatting


I am an avid gamer and have come to accept the labeling of esports as actual sport. I would argue that your criteria are simply not strong enough to discredit the term. In breaking down your criteria we get that all true sports must:
1. Require either a person or team to play both offense and defense
2. Some sort of points system
3. It cannot be judged (more clarity is needed because professional sports players and teams are clearly judged, just look at the official NFL or MLB websites.)
While this is good criteria, it is still possible for video games to meet your prerequisites. For example, looking at the game Rocket League
-The game has two teams that alternate between offense and defense depending on who controls the ball
-Both teams attempt to outscore the other in order to win
-You could say that judging is not a factor but again more clarity is needed as far as what you consider “judging”
It can be argued that Rocket League can be considered a parody of an actual sport and therefore has an easy time meeting your criteria so it should not be considered a sport.
So another game that has no basis in reality and is actually used in the esports arena, League of Legends. While I do not play the game myself, I hear enough about it and have watched gameplay footage (for research purposes only) to see how the game is played. Again though, the game can be broken down to meet your criteria though:
-The game has two teams that must play both offense and defense
-From my understanding, both teams play to capture towers for points while attacking the opposing team and their Non Playable Characters
The third game I will argue for is Street Fighter
-This time it is typically One vs. One where both players are playing offense and defense simultaneously
-The points are counted as “best of X amount” type of matches
I’ll end this with the definition of a sport: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Even in attempting to use the very definition to counter the labeling of video games as sports though it can very easily be proven that video games do require “physical exertion and skill” when competing at the professional level. Professional gamers spend hours practicing and honing their skills, even suffering injuries from said practice, and their skill is typically only matched by other professionals. Then when these professionals meet on the virtual field, they physically exert themselves in attempting to outwit, outclass, and outmatch the other person or team and it can be very entertaining for others to watch the event. So here you have three games from three different categories that all fit your bill for what a sport should be.

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