What is the likelihood of eSports coming to the Paris 2024 Olympics?
The rise of eSports is virtually unparalleled for any sport around the world. From virtual obscurity to widespread popularity in less than a decade? That’s the story of eSports.
Competitive video games for the new generation have fueled the growth of eSports. In addition, there is also the growth and maturity of streaming platforms and the development of professional leagues. Some of these leagues include the Overwatch League or the League of Legends Championship Series.
In 2018, eSports captured the attention of almost 400 million viewers worldwide, catapulting the sector into the public consciousness and leading to a race among TV programmers to buy rights to air the biggest competitions, resulting in media rights revenues topping $180m (£141m). Many predict that eSports growth will continue to surge. 550 million people will have watched an eSports event by 2021.
The popularity of eSports may push it to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
That popularity has encouraged the Olympic Committee to take a long and serious look at eSports for inclusion in forthcoming Olympic Games. It’s not as though the Olympic Games need the viewing boost, however: 2008’s Beijing Olympics pulled in viewing figures of 4.4 billion. In comparison, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics had 3.6 billion viewers. It’s virtually without competition as the biggest sporting event in the world.
Nevertheless, the Olympic Committee is always seeking to reflect the world of sport. eSports are a significant new entry to the scene. So, will eSports feature in the Paris 2024 Olympics? The situation isn’t clear. According to the Committee, the biggest hurdle stopping eSports from entering the Olympic arena is simply the level of violence exhibited in many popular eSports titles.
Many Olympic games have their history rooted in violence. Their modern versions are abstracted from it, focussing instead on the skillful aspects of the sports. Among the public, too, there remains some skepticism around whether eSports should be allowed into the Games. The debate has raged on for years now, and there’s plenty of good arguments on both sides of the issue. In this article, we’ll take a look at each.
eSports Should be in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
eSports are sports. That’s the mantra amongst fans of the games and, frankly, it’s hard to disagree with them. It only takes a short while of watching eSports to realize that anyone might be able to pick up and play a game of Rocket League or Overwatch. However, the skill level that professional players work is frankly absurd.
Like professionals in any sport, eSports players spend dozens of hours every single week honing their skills, gaining minute advantages and working on their craft. Far from lounging around, eSports players are always working on getting the most out of their efforts. This is a sport where virtually anyone can become a professional (regardless of height, weight, physical or mental ability). Therefore, it is imperative that the best continue to work incredibly hard.
eSports players are more similar to traditional sportspeople than one might think.
Like traditional sportspeople, they’re also a typically superstitious bunch. Olympic superstitions range from giving parents the middle finger (seriously) to lucky bras – unsurprising, really, given that 1 in 4 of us own lucky items of clothing. It’s the same within eSports, as players do everything from wearing their clothes inside out to wrapping headphone cords around their neck to avoid getting too comfortable. Sportspeople, eh?
There are many things that go beyond the similarities eSports professionals have with traditional professional sportspeople. For example, one can argue that the Olympic Games needs to adapt and reflect the modern sporting environment. 2020 will see the inclusion of surfing, climbing, and skateboarding in the games, reflecting their growing popularity. Why should eSports be an exception?
As games drop out of the schedule, there are new sports. The Olympic Committee should recognize the dynamism and excitement of eSports. This means giving it a call-up to the biggest sporting event in the world—the Olympics.
eSports Shouldn’t be in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
On the other hand, eSports, despite their popularity, haven’t yet reached a point of stability and maturity. This stability and maturity will enable them to be a part of the Olympic stable for Paris 2024.
eSport titles are in an almost constant state of development, receiving balance patches and updates on a regular basis. This means that eSports professionals constantly have to adapt to new conditions. In addition, Olympic organizers would have to work closely with developers and players to ensure that rules are developed based on fixed versions of titles. As yet, no such framework exists.
There are also concerns about the lack of physical activity involved in eSports. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is a firm advocate for the role of physical activity and, though eSports have a very high skill ceiling which requires incredible mental and physical dexterity, they require almost no physical exertion.