Posted on July 11, 2007,

Competitive Gaming – Is it a "Sport"?

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What can you say about competitive gaming? It certainly has been around long enough to not be considered a “passing trend”, but should it actually be considered a “sport”? This might be one of the most frequently asked questions in the universe, maybe not directed at competitive gaming necessarily, but at any recent fad that deems to call itself such.

Perhaps the best thing to compare competitive gaming with is the recent explosion of Texas Hold-um poker. If gaming is a “sport”, then wouldn’t poker be as well? It’s a hard question to answer. Gaming certainly requires more dexterity, but does poker require more mental endurance?

sport â$”noun
1. an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

See, even the definition of “sport” is ambiguous. Does it really matter what is considered a “sport”? Probably not, but it would be nice to know what the guidelines are.

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Some tend to define a “sport” as any competitive activity with clear guidelines for winning. Such as, the team who scores the most goals wins. Gaming clearly has this, and yet something about defining it as a “sport” still seems up for debate. With this definition for sport, wouldn’t chess be considered a “sport”, while gymnastics would not? (As gymnastics is scored based on “judging” instead of set rules)

Is popularity a factor then? Competitive gaming certainly qualifies as popular, as there are now countless tournaments all over the world. If a sport like “curling”, which has significantly less exposure than competitive gaming can be in the Olympics, what defines Olympic selection?

Walk up to any personal trainer, and ask “I need to workout, I’m playing in a Halo 2 tourney next week”. What do you think their response will be? I’m guessing somewhere between laughter and shock. Perhaps gaming itself has not breached the “nerd” status that it has maintained for so long? That hardly seems possible, with all-star gamers achieving almost “celebrity” status.

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Perhaps it is just too early to tell. Skateboarding has been around since the 70s, and only has it recently been seriously considered as a sport. Competitive gaming is still in its infancy, and I suppose it is too early to tell how long it will stick around.

I think we can all agree that gaming requires dexterity, commitment, coordination, and many other physical factors. Are these factors extensive enough to define gaming as a “sport”? I guess we may never know.

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