Many of you may have heard by now that the United States government has decided that League of Legends players can be deemed “pro athletes” for the purpose of obtaining travel VISAs to play in events. What you may not have seen is the fallout that has been pouring in to every comment section where this has been announced. Just one small example is the recent post on Did You Know Gaming’s Facebook page.
Seriously, go look at it. I’ll wait.
Basically this has turned into a full on flame war between the “Yay! All I do is play games and now I’m an athlete! Take that high school gym teacher!” and the “SPORTS ARE ONLY THINGS THAT REQUIRE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, WHAT IS THIS SACRILEGE?!” crowds. With how polarizing the gaming community is nowadays, especially with the introduction of the “casual gamers” into mainstream gaming, this really shouldn’t be surprising.
All everyone is doing is arguing semantics. They’re more concerned with the MEANING of the word “Athlete” than they are about any benefit this decision entails. Instead of thinking of video games, especially RTS and other strategy games, in a similar matter to games like Chess, they’re determined to point our how “VIDEO GAMES AREN’T FOOTBALL”. No shit Sherlock. I doubt anybody thought they were.
The reason this decision was made wasn’t so that countless gamers the world over could suddenly get a self-esteem boost. It was so that eSports (which is just the term used to refer to competitive gaming) participants could travel to countries hosting the events easier. And this sets a precedent. Not just League of Legends players, but players of fighting games and even FPS games like, say, Call of Duty could find international tournaments happening a lot more often now with this decision.
I think part of this hatred toward the decision comes from the fact that gamers are no longer the unemployed guy in the basement playing WoW or the loner kid in school with his Gameboy. Its expanded to include the “cool kids” (for lack of a better phrase), the people who ALSO play sports. And unless they’re playing Madden or NHL games, these people don’t like their hobbies to mix. Sports are something that is seen as a career. You can make ridiculous amounts of money being a professional athlete and its something that requires spot-on reflexes and physical training. Gaming on the other hand, is a mental endeavor. Games require you to think and strategize as opposed to use physical prowess. And while I disagree that it is the physical aspect that makes something a “sport”, I can see where the backlash is coming from.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that gaming has expanded to be more inclusive. But I think that people have to open their mind to the fact that some games require just as much mental dedication as games like chess. Moving them into that competitive stage is simply the next step for them to take
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