Following the news about LA 2024 organizers looking at the eSports scene for ideas after the League of Legends World Championship Finals at Staples Center, discussions about eSports’ viability as part of the Olympic Games came up. While we’re the first to defend eSports that should be accepted in mainstream society, we propose that there is no place for them in the Olympic Games. Read on to find out why.
Since times immemorial, the Olympic Games have been there to showcase athletic excellence. The fastest and the strongest competed for eternal glory. After the times of Ancient Greece passed, the Olympics disappeared into obscurity, only to be resurrected at the end of the 19th century. More than a hundred nations send their athletes to represent them in various sports. Some athletes’ lives revolve around getting ready for the next Olympics. New Olympic sports are slow to get implemented, partly because tradition is an important part of the Olympic spirit.
Now, let’s look at eSports or competitive video gaming. Yes, it is just as worthy to be called a sport as basketball is, however, there is a big difference between traditional sports and eSports. Basketball, unlike League of Legends, doesn’t change. There are no monthly patches to basketball, where the weight of the ball gets reduced by 2%. There is no profit-oriented company, which develops basketball (yes, an argument could be made for football/soccer’s FIFA, but come on) like Video Game Studios develop eSports titles like CS:GO, League of Legends, or Overwatch.
Having a private company being able to influence the rules of a sport before an event of Olympic proportions would be a really bad idea. If that wasn’t enough, the lifespan of eSports titles is limited. Once the grandfather of eSports, Brood Wars are out of the scene, while basketball has been there for decades. With the Olympics taking place every four years, the eSports to have the honor of being played would have to be adjusted constantly; however, there is no such nimble structure. That’s without even saying anything about the danger of the richest video game developers buying off the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to have their game showcased, even if it’s not the best or most popular.
Finally, eSports just do not fit the theme of the Olympics. The Olympiad was always about honoring the people who can run the fastest, jump the highest, and be the strongest. Unfortunately, even if eSports athletes compensate for it in other ways, they do not fit that criteria, no matter how good they are. Thus, eSports have no place in the Olympics. That doesn’t mean that there could never be eLympics, a huge tournament, held sporadically enough to make it special, which would bring the best players from all over the world to represent their countries in their best games. Wishful thinking? For sure. Possible someday? Why the hell not?!