The Mating Dance of Sports and eSports

September 26, 2016 - Esports

With Rick Fox’s Echo Fox and Shaquille O’Neal’s investment in NRG eSports among the most visible examples of traditional sports making forays into the eSports scene, one might think that this is where it ends. It’s not, though. The German football club, Schalke 04 had a League of Legends team, which got relegated from the LCS, the inspiration behind Linsanity, Jeremy Lin, is a passionate Dota 2 play, who recently endorsed the Vici Gaming organisation, NBA player Gordon Hayward has been sticking up for eSports as well, due to his interest in League of Legends. If that wasn’t enough, DotEsports recently reported the fact that multiple German football clubs, including Bayern Munich, are considering the creation of an eSports department.

The fact that traditional sports organizations and personalities are taking an interest in eSports is undeniable. Instead, we should ask a different question, the question of why. Why are sports organizations and people are trying to enter the eSports scene? The answer is simple and complicated at the same time, just like most things in life are. It’s simple, because it’s all about the money. With that said, why would a sports org, a multi-million dollar company, would enter a different industry, where it has no name and no experience? It would do it because it realises that eSports is the future. There’s been reports that traditional sports viewership numbers are declining among young adults and teenagers. What’s at fault for that? eSports. While 30 or so years ago, you had to sit at the TV or in an arena, watching LA Lakers play Boston Celtics, you can now watch Team SoloMid play against Cloud9 on your phone, on your tablet, or on your computer. Hell, you can even watch some CS:GO matches on TV.

In essence, spectator sports are about watching the best players in the world play the game you love, doing things you can’t even imagine being able to accomplish. A while ago, there’s been a paradigm shift, where young kids and teenagers spent their free time playing games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota2, and so on, instead of basketball, football, or baseball, like their parents did when they were young. Well, the kids are grown up now. And they choose to get their sports fix by watching the best in the world play the game they love, doing things they can’t even imagine being able to accomplish. It just happens that the game isn’t called basketball. It’s called League of Legends instead. Or CS:GO. Or Dota 2.

So, it should be clear why younger people aren’t coming to stadiums and watching traditional sports on TV. It’s clear to us, it’s more than clear to executives of sports clubs. Now, seeking to grab the attention of young people in their region, the clubs are considering entering the eSports scene, where they can once again expose youngsters to their brand, gaining lifetime fans, just like they’ve been doing for decades.

Consider this, the older side of the spectrum of eSports fans are going to start having children soon. They were taught by their fathers to root for their local team, even though they didn’t find the game itself interesting, preferring League of Legends, for example. If that local team gets a roster in their favorite game, they will be able to root for that team again, making them closer with their fathers. They will also teach their children to root for that eSports team, which used to be a football club, continuing the tradition. Obviously, this is a scenario which is bordering on wishful thinking, however, it could and should happen. If it does, it will be a beautiful thing to behold.