When you hear the word sport, what comes to mind? Fields. Goal posts. Nets. Physicality. Athleticism. Now, a rapidly-growing phenomenon called e-sports is challenging these ideas. Arenas across the nation are being filled with fans. Not to watch hockey or basketball or football or soccer. But to watch headphone-wearing video-gamers stare at a computer screen. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Looking at professional gamers, they look like the polar opposite of what most would consider an “athlete”. While some were competing for starting spots on the Varsity team, these guys were at home honing their craft on their personal computers. Who knew that one day this hobby would turn into a professional sport?
It is incredibly difficult for any athlete to turn pro. For instance, there are over 1 million high school football players in the nation. Only 73,000 will play in college. Then, of that group, only 253 will get drafted to the NFL.
E-sports is similar in this regard, except the talent pool is much larger. Over 90,000 people play League of Legends (one of the largest e-sports games in the world). There are roughly 500 professional gamers in the world. So yes, you have a better chance of playing in the NFL than you do being a professional gamer.
[pullquote-right]You have a better chance of playing in the NFL than you do being a professional gamer[/pullquote-right]
The idea behind professional gaming probably sounds crazy to some. But the game of baseball sounded crazy at one point too. Imagine being the first one to hear that idea. People hit a ball with a wooden club. Then they run around in a circle. If there is a tie, the game could go all day or night until someone wins. Everyone probably thought it was insane!
E-sports are just now becoming widely-recognized. Some bigger tournaments are even televised. ESPN covers various e-sports tournaments. NFL Network broadcasts its yearly Madden NFL Championship series. The 2016 League of Legends Championship had a peak of 14.7 million viewers.
There is clearly a market for this spectacle, and it seems to be trending upward. The fact that large companies such as ESPN are making an investment is encouraging for its future. Now, with the new year quickly approaching, the sport is reaching loftier heights. Is e-sports here to stay?