Fortnite and football – America’s two favorite pastimes.
Electronic sports (Esports), a form of competition using video games, has been spreading in popularity. Some of Esports’ most popular games include Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, League of Legends, StarCraft II, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Overwatch. While there are diverse options of games to compete in, the basis of Esports raises questions of whether or not it qualifies as a sport.
“Esports in the state of Florida is not actually considered a sport,” Esports sponsor Dr. William Perry said. “Our Athletic Director is very supportive of our program, so he has welcomed us into athletics. We are also working to make it more widespread in the state of Florida, so Maclay is taking a helm role with me.”
Maclay’s Esports team started as a way to compete against surrounding schools but turned into a nationally-recognized team. Maclay Esports competes in the PlayVS league which matches schools against geographically close competitors to create a varsity sport feel for the players.
While Maclay recognizes Esports as a sport, Florida and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) does not. The NCAA doesn’t recognize Esports because they “do not require athletic ability.” In a case concerning sports at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), a US district judge Carlos Mendoza ruled that Esports does not count as a sport in the context of Title IX equality legislation because there would be sex-discrimination involved. At the time of the ruling, FIT said its esports teams were subject to the same selection process and had access to the same support services and competitive schedules as its other sporting outfits. Despite the recognition at school as being a sport, Judge Mendoza has ruled esports does not meet the requirements for a sport since they lack a national governing body and the commercial dominance of the space.
The definition of sports includes activities that have elements that are physical (exertion and/or skill), competitive, have rules and organized, but this definition is too broad. Applying this to other activities that fit the definition would make games like chess qualify as sports. Esports takes a lot of skill, practice and sacrifice at a high level, as well as provides participants a team and community. However, in order for a sport to qualify as one, it must have some sort of physical exertion, and Esports doesn’t contain any. Additionally, Esports, especially at Maclay, is beneficial to its community and generates a lot of publicity for the competitions and the players. Despite the many benefits and skills of Esports, it isn’t on the same level as other sports.