Why e-sports is real sports

E-sports gamers at Scape, on Sept 2, 2019.
E-sports gamers at Scape, on Sept 2, 2019.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Forum contributor Juliana Foo believes that e-sports should not be accepted as a medal sport at the SEA Games (E-sports is not a sport by definition, Sept 6).

Ms Foo argues that e-sports poses no physical challenges. This is a hasty generalisation. As the e-sports scene has grown more competitive, athletes are adopting training regimens from traditional sports as these have been shown to improve their reflexes or to help them gain a competitive edge.

Furthermore, many actual sporting organisations now have an e-sports arm in various games.

For example, big football clubs such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have sponsored e-sports teams in games like Rocket League and Dota 2, respectively. These clubs go so far as to call their sponsored e-sports players athletes as well.

Ms Foo assumes that a gamer just "sits and moves his fingers and eyes 12 hours a day, eating normal meals and not using his other muscles".

What she fails to recognise is that these e-sports athletes are honing physical traits that allow them to excel in the e-sports arena. This allows them to gain a strategic and skill advantage over their peers.

This is no different from Ms Foo's view of a traditional sport, where athletes "test their limits to achieve the best physical form".

E-sports athletes are honing physical traits that allow them to excel in the e-sports arena. This allows them to gain a strategic and skill advantage over their peers.

Arguably, the bodies of e-sports athletes do not meet traditional notions of fitness.

This is again no different from traditional sports. Ms Foo should take a look at sumo wrestlers, pot-bellied pitchers in baseball or basketball player Nikola Jokic. One does not necessarily need to have an athletic body to excel in his sport.

Ms Foo's statement that it is unfair to label e-sports as sports, on the basis that "it is not a physical sport and should not be in the SEA Games or similar events like the Olympics", boggles the mind when you consider mind sports like chess and bridge. These two sports do not require physical exertion, yet both have been featured in past editions of the SEA Games and are recognised by the International Olympic Committee as sports.

Ms Foo is severely misinformed about the e-sports scene in general.

Over the years, the scene has gained legitimacy as a proper and professional arena where players train hard as individuals or as a team and compete for prizes.

Much like how traditional sports started out as pastimes, e-sports is now seeing that same progression into professionalisation.

Zachary Foo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'Why e-sports is real sports'. Print Edition | Subscribe