Debate: Is Gaming A Sport?

Should video games be considered on par with sports like golf, football, and basketball?

David Goldman/AP Images

Elite competitions, intense training, elaborate strategy—are video games worthy of legitimate sports status? Two teens take sides.

 YES:  Gamers excel in skill and strategy.

Gaming is indisputably a sport! Just like any other athletic endeavor, it requires tremendous skill and strategy. It can be played individually or on a team. And serious eSports athletes train for months on end, displaying strong mental focus, quick reaction time, and extreme dedication as they compete.

Don’t believe me? Watch a Major League Gaming (MLG) tournament. Not only will you witness undeniable talent and effort, but you’ll also see proof that eSports have a huge and dedicated fan base. In fact, these competitions often attract more viewers than traditional sports! Last year’s League of Legends tournament peaked at 11.2 million viewers, for example, whereas the NHL Finals only hit 8 million.

Still, many people dismiss gaming as a sport due to the lack of physical activity. To that I say: What about chess or even golf? Where do we draw the line? It’s time to lose your image of “lazy” gamers and give eSports the respect they deserve.

— Pauline Phan, a high school freshman in New York

 NO:  Gaming lacks true physical exertion.

Don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t love playing a good video game? But calling gaming a sport is a bit ridiculous. It’s missing physical exercise, which is the one major element that sets athletics apart from all other competitive hobbies! What’s next: calling social media a sport?

But it’s not just the absence of sweat and exertion that disqualifies gaming from sports status. Spending too much time playing video games can numb people to the world around them—and most sports have the opposite effect. Being part of a team has helped many students, including myself, feel welcomed into their school’s community.

So while it is true that gaming involves the highest levels of competition and strategy—key components of all sports—those factors can’t outweigh the aspects that are missing. To me, a sport keeps you healthy and conditioned—and no one has ever become physically stronger by staring at a screen all day.

­— David Marshall, a high school freshman in New Mexico

3 Fast Facts

1. Seventy-two percent of all teens play video games, according to the most recent report by The Pew Research Center.

2. The official definition of “sport” (noun) is: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

3. In 2014, Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first U.S. college to make video gaming a varsity sport, even offering scholarship prizes to top e-athletes.

Sources: 1. The Pew Research Center; 2. Oxford Dictionaries; 3. Robert Morris University

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