It’s time to recognize the legitimacy of esports

As a growing community, esports has taken many by storm due to its popularity in the gaming industry. However, media sources like ESPN or print publications still don’t consider esports a competitive sport.

Like traditional sports, esports takes dedication and hard work from the players to land a job in the professional leagues. Rick Fox, a former NBA athlete, believes that these gamers are on the same level as athletes because they have the same passion: they are digital athletes.

“I think what it took for me to become a professional athlete, it took a lot of concentration, dedication, practice, preparation, stamina…professional gaming, they are sponsored, they have careers, they make hundreds of thousands of dollars,’’ Fox said on The View.

These athletes have skill, dexterity and reflexes like no other. Everyday, they spend several hours working on their game. Players also train their body to be phyiscally ready for their tournaments. For example, they are required to eat healthy and do core workouts.

Esports also has a structure to it, with many of the most popular games running a sports season and tournaments to play in. Esports also has a standardized set of  rules and regulations for the players and teams. With very similar assets to sports, there is no reason to not call esports a competitive sport.

Not only are other athletes acknowledging professional gamers as one of their kind, but the government also considers these players on esports teams as athletes. The government is helping build the esports scene and growing it as a whole.

With several countries, like Malaysia and Japan, funding a budget for tournament prize pools and building stadiums dedicated to esports, the online gaming scene has completely changed from a dream to a reality.

In addition, the government has also recognized esports athletes by granting them P1 Visas, which allow these players to live in the country and perform in gaming leagues and tournaments for a length of time.

With several huge games such as Fortnite and League of Legends, hundreds of major tournaments and a big following, nothing is stopping esports from becoming the next big thing.

Recently, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won $1.8 million in prize money in the Fortnite World Cup, which is the highest earnings won by an athlete in a single tournament. Also, the first place League of Legends team, Invictus Gaming, recieved a pay check for 2.4 million dollars.

There are over 800 professional league players and over 500 esports teams to play for. According to Esports Charts, from major tournaments like Counter Strike Global Offensive Eleague racking 49 million viewers to League of Legends’ Worlds attracting 74.3 million viewers, esports viewership is skyrocketing past large sports events like the NBA Finals.

It’s time to recognize esports and its players as a competitive sport with professional athletes.