December 6, 2016

Here’s the Thing: There is a new definition of sport

The International 2013 | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The International 2013 | CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

When you think of sports, you think of baseball, soccer, hockey and football. These are the sports we all grew up watching and playing.

The definition of what a sport is has changed over the years. People continue to live by the dictionary definition of a sport being only physical exertion. We forget there is just as much mental grind as there is physical.

Whether eSports should be recognized as true sports has become a hot topic of discussion. Being able to sit in your  room and play Call of Duty for 12 hours straight is now a way to a big payday.

Sure, these players may not be muscular. They may not be able to run a 4.4 40-yard dash, they may not be able to hit a ball 450 ft., but they are the new wave of athletes.

Sports are just as much mentally grueling as they are physically. When people talk about professional baseball, they say the 162-game season is mentally taxing on players. It is why chess is considered a sport. Moving a plastic piece is not hard. Knowing where to move that piece and how it affects your next 10 moves is. You are constantly thinking. Chess tournaments are multiple days of hours on hours of pure focus because one wrong move could lose you the match.

Major League Gaming (MLG) has implemented drug testing for drugs like Adderall and Ritalin that help increase focus. It gives a competitive advantage to players because total focus is key in long gaming tournaments. Similar drugs have been banned from other professional sports, like football, for the competitive advantage it gives to players.

Currently, the eSports global industry was appraised at $748.8 million and projected to increase to over $1 billion by 2017 according to Fortune.com. eSports have also reached TV deals with TBS and ESPN, the largest sports broadcasting network in the world. ESPN broadcasted The International Pre-Show, a tournament for Dota 2 and Heroes of the Dorm, on ESPN 2.

That’s in addition to online streaming services like Twitch, who was acquired by Amazon for nearly $1 billion, which other professional leagues have made strides toward. The NFL attempted to live stream one of their London exhibitions during the 2015 season and will live stream Thursday night games on Yahoo and Twitter in 2016.

What makes athletes different than the average Joes? They can do things better that are crucial to their specific sport. In competitive gaming, reaction time is a must. In a study by Central Washington University, gamers had a more than 50 percent better reaction time than non-gamers.

What makes a professional baseball player good? His ability to decide if a 95 mph fastball is a ball or strike and swing. A hitter has .380 seconds to make this decision, so reaction time is critical.

Now I’m not saying gamers can go be pro baseball players, but it takes more than brute strength to be good at sports.

People need to move past the basic idea that they have of what a sport is and realize the world is changing. They may not be the roided-out jocks that we’ve all come to know and love, but by most standards they measure of with the true definition of an athlete. Some win and some lose, but they compete at the highest levels around the world.   

   

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