Published April 3, 2019


The Celtics’ Kyrie Irving takes the ball up with ten seconds left in a pivotal Game 7 of the NBA finals against the all-mighty Golden State Warriors. The backbone of the Celtics team weaves through defenders and sinks a championship-winning layup off the glass.

You may be thinking, when did this happen in sports history? In fact, this never took place in NBA history at all.

Instead, it could have been Arteyo “Dimez” Boyd of Mavs gaming, the first-ever draft pick in NBA 2K League history.

Since its creation in October of 1972, the movement of eSports, or the competitive playing of video games, has reached a new height. eSports have become a modernized, professional way for players across the world to showcase their skills at various games. By definition, a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Because of the high level of training, the skill, focus, and strategy needed and the large audience, eSports should be considered a sport.

Contrary to the stereotype of people who play video games, the training for eSports requires focus and effort for an extended period of time. According to Greg “IdrA” Fields, a former StarCraft II champion, “we played for 12 hours a day with one or two days off a month.” Many would think, these 12 hours are spent sitting in a basement, eating boxes of pizza. However, there are specific training centers where skills are developed.

For example, the Sandbox Esports Training Center facility in Thousand Oaks, California is a place where gamers endure intense physical training. But are they really doing anything physical? If you were a pitcher in the MLB, you wouldn’t spend your time taking batting practice, but rather focus on strengthening your arm; having accurate, dominant pitches. So during training, gamers physically train the parts of the body needed for competition.

“A strong core, perfect posture, hand-eye coordination, and strong forearms, hands, wrists, and fingers” are necessary according to Darren Heitner of Forbes.

In addition to training, eSports requires a great deal of skill, particularly with strategy and memorization. Players have to know their location, their teammates’ location, their opponents’ location, and what strategy to deploy based on how the game is playing out. Not only do they have to analyze this information as the game progresses, but they have to do it at an outstanding rate.

“Most professional players can get up to five or six hundred actions per minute,” says Philip Hübner, a product manager for the eSports league Intel Extreme Masters.

In certain eSports games such as NBA2K, there are endless combinations to use in order to be an effective player. Even for dribbling alone in NBA2K19, there are 15 combinations to execute including triple threat jab, triple threat size-up, triple-threat hesitation, triple-threat stepback, and triple-threat spinout. For an average NBA player to do these moves, you don’t learn them by memorizing, but rather through pure instinct. But with eSports, players have to not only know when to use these moves but how to execute these moves. eSports requires an astonishing amount of mental skill, as players have to know when to execute a strategy, how to execute that strategy, all while having to do that at a quick pace.

Lastly, the audience for eSports has grown to astonishing numbers. In 2017, the League of Legends Championship had a peak viewership of 106.2 million people, more than the Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, Daytona 500 and Tour de France. And most notably, the 2017 League of Legends Championship totaled more peak viewers than the 2019 Super Bowl, which reached 100.7 million people.

The fact that an eSports competition beat out what could be considered the signature American sporting event shows a change in both culture and sport. You may not see people getting concussions while playing video games, but there is undeniable coordination, reflex, mental focus and required training needed in the world of eSports. Watching your younger sibling play Fortnite may not be considered a sport, but the newest Olympic sport for 2024 in eSports should be a pinnacle of our sports world.