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Zach Johnson, sports intern

Millions of people around the world play this sport. It requires attention, focus and fast reflexes. It’s an extremely competitive sport and, according to CNBC, the industry was worth $138 billion in 2018. It takes a special set of skills to become a professional; not everyone can make it. 

No, I’m not referring to basketball, baseball or soccer. I’m talking about competitive gaming.

Arguments that opponents use in the debate regarding the legitimacy of esports, competitive video gaming, as a sport include the fact that video games don’t require a great deal of physical exercise. 

However, if physical exercise were a necessary qualification for a sport, many Olympic sports wouldn’t count as sports at all. Playing video games at the professional level requires the same amount of exercise, skill and dedication as Olympic sports such as competitive shooting, and we label anyone who competed in any Olympic sport as an “Olympic Athlete.”

Now let’s talk about what it takes to be a professional gamer. “League of Legends” players, such as Lee Sang-hyeok, have claimed that they practice for 12-15 hours per day. Ninja, arguably the most popular gamer in the world right now, disclosed that in 2018, he played “Fortnite” for a weekly average of 80 hours. These absurd numbers show how much work gamers have to put in to be the best at their craft. 

No one can just pick up a controller and be instantly as good as a professional gamer, in the same way that no one can pick up a baseball and throw it 90+ miles per hour without any practice.

Playing video games at the professional level requires levels of skill and commitment that match any other sport. We live in the 21st century — it’s time to modernize the way we define sports and acknowledge that competitive video games count as a sport.

This is the opinion of Zach Johnson, a sophomore International Relations major from Tai Tam, Hong Kong. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to mthomas@theloyolan.com.

Alex Hutton, asst. sports editor

Esports is not a sport, simply because it cannot be compared to more traditional sports such as basketball, soccer and tennis. Let’s start by breaking down the word itself. Oxford English Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Esports covers all of that, except for physical exertion. Sports involve exercise, they are activities that a person can break a sweat playing. It’s safe to say that people don’t get exercise from sitting in a chair and pushing buttons on a controller.

The term esports is actually misleading, because it has the word sports in its name. Instead, esports should be called what it is: competitive video gaming. If people accurately referred to esports in this manner, there would not be a debate. “Esports” sounds like a grueling athletic competition, whereas “competitive video gaming” calls to mind that thing that our moms would yell at us to stop playing so we could go outside and get actual exercise.

It should be respected as a form of entertainment and as a profession. Fans flock to arenas to watch professionals play. Gamers train rigorously to perfect their moves and get better every day. They make a living by being the best at their craft. And there is nothing wrong with any of that.

But those competitions and gamers shouldn’t be referred to in the same terms as sports and the athletes who play them. The work of a professional video gamer can’t be compared to the work of athletes such as LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo or Serena Williams. And it shouldn’t be, either. The countless sprints, weight sessions and agility drills performed daily by athletes are not in the same realm as the exercises that gamers do. Comparing the two is comparing apples to oranges.

Let’s give both sports and competitive video gaming respect as activities, forms of entertainment and legitimate professions. But let’s not refer to the two with the same language. To do so is not only misleading but unfair to both.

This is the opinion of Alex Hutton, a sophomore journalism major from Oakland, California. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to mthomas@theloyolan.com.

Alex Hutton is a sophomore journalism major. He is a diehard fan of the Warriors, Giants, 49ers, Sharks, Cal Bears, and of course, LMU Lions. He lists getting his plays produced and meeting Paul McCartney as among his current life goals.

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