Is eSports a Sport? Let’s discuss

2 min read


I’ve started a new video series where I discuss certain topics relating to both the local and international eSports community. Today’s episode is about the current comparison between eSports and Sports and whether it is a healthy comparison to make.

Over the weekend you may have read the drama about the firing of James “2GD” Harding after acting seemingly unprofessional at the Dota 2 Shanghai Major. This of course sparked an international debate whether the community in fact want a more professional approach, or are we satisfied with the current state of professional eSports broadcasting.

The second point of course is whether this comparison is valid, or are we just using it as an excuse to explain what eSports really is? In South Africa eSports is still relatively new concept which most of us are still trying to convince our parents of. The fact is that eSports is as real as ever and it’s time we start explaining what an eSport is without drawing too many comparisons between the two. Sure, eSports and Sports do share similar attributes, but painting them with a broad brush is often dangerous depending on what message you’re trying to convey across.

My thoughts shifted more to the local community as I discuss whether this comparison will aid the growth of eSports, with special mention of the MSSA. Currently there is a pseudo drive to make eSports more conventional in this country, and this is where I somewhat disagree. A large majority of the community have grown up with the international standard of professionalism in eSports and a drive of this nature will not be very well received.

These are just some of the topics discussed, the rest is up to you.

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Last Updated: February 29, 2016

Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit’s esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for elsewhere – but my work here is independent of that.

  • konfab

    No, it is an intellectual activity, like chess.

    Sports actually require a component of physical activity.

    • Pariah

      The MSSA might argue the same…

    • Mossel

      Agreed. No more a sport than chess or poker is a sport. It’s a game that requires mental skill, not physical.

    • Deceased

      Agreed, it’s not a sport, an’ all that …
      It falls under the same category as conventional sport, in that it’s entertainment – So when we discuss drama such as the firing of some host, which category are we technically discussing?
      ( I hate that eSports teams get called athletes 😐 )

  • Not a sport. Love how people feel the need to compare the two.

  • For me it since I actually played in a few comps

  • HvR

    E-sport at least partially fails the sport definition on 2 fronts:
    Most organisations define sport as physical activity, ranging from physical strength to dexterity where precise muscle control is needed.
    There must be zero element of luck within the activity, most games fail this as there is always some element of luck be that you choose characters first to ban, hit/miss calculations etc

    Also not sure why recognition of e-Sports as a full fledged “sport” is a thing.

    • Ben Nguyen

      I can make quite a few arguments on this. First off, you mentioned that most organizations define sport as physical activity. I do agree that flicking the wrist and pressing buttons isn’t at all a very “physical” thing to do, but the fact that there are some organizations, though few, that consider e-sport to be a valid sport means that it is still a controversial topic. Sports has always been about dominating the opponent and that the majority of sports just so happens to require intense physical activity, like tennis and football. Tennis is about dominating in technique and tactic, whereas football is about dominating in strategy, team coordination, and execution. But who says chess can’t be a sport, if chess is all about out-thinking the opponent? Why can’t e-sport be a sport if it’s about domination in everything I mentioned so far?

      Second, it seems to me that your definition of luck is making mistakes. Not like soccer or football teams never rely on their opponents to blunder, right?

    • Lardus-For the Chimichangas!

      “precise muscle control is needed” – yeah, in gaming that definitely happens.
      “zero element of luck”: In rugby the bounce of the oval ball can be a ridiculous amount of good or bad luck.

      I don’t care either way really.

  • Hammersteyn

    What is sports? Does this thing people do make a lot of money? Can we benefit financially from calling it a sport? If so yes it is a sport. So they don’t run around or lift anything heavy? The play games and concentrate really,really hard? Hmmmmm put an e in front of sport then

    • miaau

      is that an e for effort or that sort humour likely to lead to a ban?

      e-it is a real sport-sports, then?

      Bah, I think it is a competitive arena where teams of varying skill come up against one another for the thrill of the game and chant of the crowd. You will never walk alone.

      AND chess is a competitive game where teams (one player, but in prep) of varying skill come up against one another for the thrill of the game and chant of the crowd. Ok, so less of a chant.

      • Hammersteyn

        E for e-sports. My point is this. A thing that makes money can be classified, molded or relabeled to fit in mold, shape or form. ESPN had that one mullet that dismissed E-Sports and it didn’t take one month for ESPN to back track and embrace it. But ESPN is about sports is it not. So lets classify sitting behined a desk an E-sport because a 300 pound NFL player can click a mouse, he might not even do it that well but he can. On the flip side most DOTA players will end up in the hospital if he stood in between the same football player and the goal line

  • miaau
  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    It’s not a sport. It’s trying hard to be recognised as a sport because of regulatory advantages, travel visas and money. More power to you if you get it, because I don’t really care how you make your living. But don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a sport – you’re not playing a sport, you’re playing a video game.

  • What if we are living in the Matrix, and in fact Sports is just an eSport? What is an “eSport” then?

    Think deeper you sheep.

  • Robert Hart

    I dont see why its not a sport category. The reasons given in the video were pretty weak.

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