What is eSports?

How is eSports an actual sport? My answer is Chess. For an eternity, Chess has been identified as the epitome of intellectual competition associating itself with intense strategy, higher order thinking and has been a catalyst for national fervor (Bobby Fischer vs Boris Spassky, 1972). Even though Chess does not require physical prowess, it is classified as a ‘mind sport’ that challenges humans to achieve intellectual feats whilst developing patience, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 
In 1999, the International Olympic Committee recognized chess as a sport leading to a failed bid in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) have launched a campaign for the sport’s inclusion in the 2024 Olympic Games. This futurist approach to disrupt conventional ideals of sport have raised significant attention to what inclusions of this nature (and platforms) could do for conventional sport. In fact, by definition, Chess does ​not adhere to Oxford Dictionary’s ‘activity involving physical exertion’ and thus by default it is not a sport.

Visiting the hallmarks of a conventional sport, Chess confidently aligns with distinguished personality traits of high performing athletes according to sports scientist Daniel Brown from the University of Portsmouth. The ingrained idea of an established sport requires a participant to engage in physically challenging and demanding tasks to achieve a competitive goal through teamwork, determination, focus and persistence. 

According to a study by Professor Ingo Frobose from the German Sports University in Cologne on eSports competitors, an eSports athlete maintains a similar heartrate of a marathon runner (160-180 bpm) during competitive play and “the amount of cortisol produced is about the same level as that or a race-car driver”.  These results are not sustainable for any sportsperson without a balanced health routine and nutrition regime. 

Hai Lam, a professional eSports athlete from ‘FlyQuest’ notes in an article published by major eSports and extreme sports sponsor, Redbull ‘Why physical performance matters in Esports’, that “first and foremost, the primary objectives are to enhance your overall performance, health and wellness, reducing risk of injury and extending game longevity” and ‘there’s four pillars of performance that can be addressed (during competitive play) Nutrition, Recovery, Psychological and Physical”. Lam further comments, “I think there’s a stigma behind esports and video gaming where you imagine people just sitting behind computer screens and TVs with horrible diets and no real structure, but I think it’s quite the opposite. When comparing to other raditional sports, I see more similarities rather than differences.” Lam’s  ‘Overwatch’ team are currently ranked fourth in the world. 

Competitive video gaming will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games and the International Olympic Commission (IOC) are considering eSports to be a demonstration title for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

The Chisholm CHIEFS games are streamed live on twitch.tv/chisholmesports.

What will your move be? 

Mark Mendez-Cortes
eSports Coordinator​