The Parking Spot: Major League Gaming

Joseph Park, Editor-In-Chief

Computer games are getting big. Their growing popularity and ubiquitous nature is causing a strange problem in the sports world: electronic gaming is becoming a professional sport and video gamers are becoming professional athletes. Stop it.

The U.S. government made “League of Legends” a legitimate sport. “League of Legends” is bound to be a sport in the next Olympics and Illinois College made “League of Legends” a varsity sport. That’s ridiculous America.

Because of the everlasting, unanswered controversy over what exactly makes a sport a sport, I’d like to offer my opinions on the parameters that should be set for an activity to be established as a sport.

It’s highly understandable from a business aspect why America and the world are supporting making electronic games a professional sport. The U.S government recognized “League of Legends” players as professional athletes as a way to grant international players visas. The recent 2014 “League of Legends” World Championship attracted 27 million views, topping the 23.5 million who viewed Game 7 World Series match between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals and 18 million who watched the NBA Finals match between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. Those are big numbers. But big numbers don’t define a sport.

A sport needs physical activity, nothing more, nothing less. Since when has it become so pathetic that popularity and money establishes an activity that requires sitting down and moving fingers as a sport? If knitting ever did become as popular as “League of Legends,” then would that be a sport too? Having an e in front of sports (e-sports, electronic sports) doesn’t suffice in making video games a sport. If so, you can make the argument that Taylor Swift is an athlete, a musical athlete.

You need to move your body to be considered an athlete, not your fingers and brain particles.

There’s a difference between a competitive activity and a sport. There’s nothing wrong with calling someone a professional chess player and professional gamer but naming them professional athletes is stretching it too far and rather insulting to professional athletes themselves.

Even as a high school student, I find it quite offensive to categorize true professional athletes with out-of-shape boys who sit down and play computer games. The label of a professional sport or athlete isn’t a title to be freely handed out to any activity that generates large amount of revenue. It’s a title for the few who were involved in physical exertion and made it to the top percent in their respective sport.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of “League of Legends” and the whole LCS playoffs competition. It’s fantastic but it doesn’t meet the criteria to be a part of the sports world. These “League of Legends” pro players are undoubtedly talented individuals with their crafty hands and intelligent minds. But the problem here is that it’s not enough, or rather preposterous, to label them professional athletes. It’s blasphemous and insulting to the sports world and all its inhabitants.