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October 06, 2014

eSports????

We picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue:

As a teenager, holed up in his bedroom, illuminated by the glow of his laptop, Youngbin Chung became addicted to video games. Ten-hours-a-day addicted.

His grades tanked. His parents fretted.

A few years later, the 20-year-old from the San Francisco area leads a team of headset-wearing players into virtual battle in a darkened room at a small private university in Chicago. He's studying computer networking there on a nearly $15,000 a year athletic scholarship — for playing League of Legends, the video game that once jeopardized his high school diploma.

"I never thought in my life I'm going to get a scholarship playing a game," said Chung, one of 35 students attending Robert Morris University on the school's first-in-the-nation video game scholarship.

Once regarded as anti-social slackers or nerds in a basement, gamers have become megastars in what are now called esports. In professional leagues, they compete for millions of dollars in prizes and pull in six-figure incomes for vanquishing their enemies in what have become huge spectator events packing tens of thousands into sports stadiums around the world.

Why do we suspect that - come the Glorious Revolution - this kind of thing is what will replace football?

Posted by Cassandra at October 6, 2014 08:35 AM

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Because honestly, there's no real functional difference between traditional sports and esports. You're paying players to compete against each other in events that are watched by people both in person and remotely. The events are paid for by ad revenue and corporate sponsorship. In Korea where military service is mandatory, their armed forces have sponsored teams for games like Starcraft II.

And if you think the skill required for these video games is somehow less than that required for professional sports, I'll leave you with the following factoid. In Starcraft II, there's a mechanic built into the game to report how many actions per minute a player takes (because Korean casters of Starcraft I tournaments requested such a feature to make their job easier). The average professional player normally performs around 300 APM (or actions per minute) sustained. They can spike higher, but rarely go much lower. Now think about that and try to do ANYTHING 300 times per minute (including blink). For upwards of 10-20 minutes at a time.

Posted by: MikeD at October 6, 2014 10:38 AM

Hey, I'm OK with "competition", but not sure I buy off on "sport".

But I am probably not the best person to opine on what a sport is, or isn't. I understand that some eye/hand coordination is needed for video game playing, but it's also needed for needlepoint or tatting and I wouldn't call either one a sport, either.

Even if people wanted to compete in them :p

Posted by: Cass at October 6, 2014 10:56 AM

Whenever there is a dispute about the meaning of a word, I tend to consult the etymology. This time, the etymology suggests video games may be more of a sport than needlepoint because needlepoint at least sometimes is practical rather than merely pleasant.

Posted by: Grim at October 6, 2014 11:12 AM

There’s no escaping the terminal. Virtual living and vital living have both a common menace - fried chips.

Posted by: George Pal at October 6, 2014 11:27 AM

This has something to do with ISIL, doesn't it?

You're trying to trick me again, aren't you?

Posted by: Joe Biden, sooper smaht guy at October 6, 2014 12:18 PM

You're trying to trick me again, aren't you?

You're right - moving China to the other side of the world right before your speech was no fair, Pumpkin! :p

Posted by: Dr. Jill Biden at October 6, 2014 12:36 PM

Had this argument with Youngest Son. Lost argument.
Me: "Video games are not a sport."
Him: "Why not? Somebody wins, and somebody loses."
Me: "But it's dumb."
Him: "Dumber than running back and forth while bouncing a ball hoping to put it through a hole?"
Me: "Well..."
Him: "Dumber than two guys dancing around a roped-in square trying to punch each other in the nose?"
Me: "Um..."
Him: "How about letting some guy throw hard things at you at 100 miles an hour while you stand inside a little area defined by white powder holding a stick? Is that dumb too?"
Me: "BASEBALL ISN'T DUMB!!!"
(mrs rdr from down the hall: "Yes it is. Dumb AND boring.")
Him: "ALL sports are dumb, Dad. Particularly, golf."
Me: "Golf isn't a sport. It's just dumb."
Him: "Like auto racing?"
Me: "You're grounded."
Him: "Suits me. Now do you mind? My League of Legends team and I are scrimmaging against the Norwegians."
Me: "Baseball IS NOT dumb. It's NOT."

Posted by: spd rdr at October 6, 2014 01:30 PM

Hey, I'm OK with "competition", but not sure I buy off on "sport".

Welcome to the great debate just about every man has participated in at least once. "Is ____ a sport?"

Most times, it is well agreed that if there is running and a ball involved, it is a sport. Is golf a sport? Hotly debated. Is bowling? Also debated. There are sports with no running or balls involved. Boxing for one. Downhill skiing. Cycling. Is NASCAR or Indy Car Racing a sport? Debatable.

There's no real consensus. It's like "art", everyone has a different definition of what qualifies. I won't say you're wrong about esports not being "sports". I'd argue that if your definition involves "competition watched by an audience of skill between individuals or a team where one side wins and the other loses", then they qualify. If it requires physical activity, then it may not.

Oh, and Spd? Love ya like a brother I've never met, but your bride is right about baseball. I never could get into it.

Posted by: MikeD at October 6, 2014 02:41 PM

There are sports with no running or balls involved. Boxing for one.

I'm not sure I buy your contention that there are no balls involved in boxing.

Posted by: Grim at October 6, 2014 02:48 PM

And here I was trying to stay PG.

Well, for the sake of a good argument, I'll say that being present for said sporting event is not the same as participating. Oh and Laila Ali would like to have a word with you if you think that balls are necessary for boxing.

Posted by: MikeD at October 6, 2014 03:13 PM

I always thought of a sport as some kind of competition involving:

1. Physical exertion.
2. Physical skills.

But I agree that there are a ton of things we call sports that aren't really sports :p

On the important question of whether baseball is boring or not, I feel obligated to punt. Until this weekend's playoff game with the Nats (18 INNINGS??? SERIOUSLY???) I would have voted, "No" but I admit that I went upstairs to read a book sometime during the 11th inning.

On the even more important topic of whether balls make the sport... I got nothin' to say about that one.

Posted by: Further, Affiant sayeth not at October 6, 2014 03:39 PM

Him: "Why not? Somebody wins, and somebody loses."

That only means it's a competition - not a sport. In Art shows, someone wins/loses. Chess matches, Parchesi tournaments, etc.

IOW, Dad wins :)

Posted by: Further, Affiant sayeth not at October 6, 2014 03:42 PM

IOW, Dad wins :)

Only if child rearing is a sport.

Here's one for you to ponder: Sport fishing.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 6, 2014 03:58 PM

I call a competitive activity a sport if it promotes cardiovascular fitness, and a game if it doesn't. So, on one side, football and tennis; on the other, video games, Scrabble, and chess. A game can be intensely competitive and entertaining without our having to call it a sport.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 6, 2014 04:09 PM

See, for me, game implies something that is primarily luck based (i.e. roll of the dice, turn of a card, etc). Some games have a high degree of skill, but all the skill in the world won't help if you have bad luck (poker comes to mind). Sports are primarily skills based with perhaps some element of chance (think football or tennis). You MIGHT get an unlucky bounce here or there, but the vast majority of the outcome is based upon the skill of the players.

But like I said, YMMV.

Posted by: MikeD at October 6, 2014 04:14 PM

Only if child rearing is a sport.

Aye Chihuahua, Senor Rdr :p Don't get me started!

It is for some parents I know. The big question is: are you competing against your kids? Or are you raising your children to compete against other people's children? Or, as with some parents I know, are you doing both?

FWIW, I still think you won on the merits. And I think "sport fishing" should be called "competitive fishing" because fishing ain't a sport :p


Posted by: Cass at October 6, 2014 04:46 PM

MikeD, you wouldn't call chess a game? But surely it's not a sport?

Posted by: Texan99 at October 6, 2014 08:26 PM

Child rearing is like a marathon. A very grueling marathon. A sport? No. Maybe a death march. Really.

You keep going and going and going and going.....


It's never really over. When my late mother was in her late 80's, she was still worried about her 60 year old daughter, my sister.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 7, 2014 09:40 AM

MikeD, you wouldn't call chess a game? But surely it's not a sport?

I can go either way on it. There's an international body for judging chess tournaments (even if it is notoriously corrupt), it is a skill based competitive endeavor, and people watch it (even if there's not a wide audience for doing so). So yeah, I can see calling it a sport. I think it's primarily called a "game" because it's played on a board (and thus, considered a "board game"). But for me, the difference between chess and say... backgammon, or scrabble is that there is no element of luck involved. It is just one player's skill against the other.

Oh, and this did also make me think of judged competitions against non-judged ones. Think figure skating or diving. I personally don't tend to like them, because the judgments are completely subjective. Oh sure, they claim the judgments are based upon criteria that is measurable (i.e. how big is the splash, x number of points are deducted if the skater falls, etc), but we've all seen examples in the Olympics where a skater will have a flawless routine and still score less than one who falls. And that just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Give me a sport where victory is clearly defined (fastest time, highest jump, most points scored) any day over one where the winner depends on if the French judge has accepted a bribe or not.

Posted by: MikeD at October 7, 2014 10:40 AM

"Oh and Laila Ali would like to have a word with you if you think that balls are necessary for boxing."

Well, actually, she has them. She just has to wear them on her chest so they don't chafe....or clank.
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at October 7, 2014 11:34 AM

As always, Sly's job is to say the things a gentleman can't. Thank you, Sly.

Posted by: Grim at October 7, 2014 11:51 AM

If you think "Redskins" is offensive, you haven't seen nothing when it comes to names in online gaming.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 7, 2014 12:02 PM

If you think "Redskins" is offensive, you haven't seen nothing when it comes to names in online gaming.

Psshh... the names are nothing. Some of the mouths (fingers?) on these kids... I swear I'm turning more and more into a cranky old man these days.

At least at the professional level, you don't get that nonsense. None of them will risk a paycheck on getting banned.

Posted by: MikeD at October 7, 2014 12:20 PM

The youngest boy worked for Blizzard Entertainment (they make the World of Warcraft video game). He's on a leave of absence to get his degree, but they want him back ASAP.

Me: Do something besides playing that video game.
Him: It will pay off one of these days.
Me: They pay you what?
Him: How's the crow?

Smartass kids, get off my lawn dammit!

Posted by: Allen at October 7, 2014 04:10 PM

"As always, Sly's job is to say the things a gentleman can't. Thank you, Sly."

Aww, I'm touched, Grim. (Hush, Princess!)
As always, you're welcome.
0>;~]

Posted by: DL Sly at October 7, 2014 05:25 PM

The youngest boy worked for Blizzard Entertainment (they make the World of Warcraft video game). He's on a leave of absence to get his degree, but they want him back ASAP.

Allen, you need to be monumentally proud of your son. Working for perhaps the premier videogame development house in the world prior to receiving his degree is an astonishing achievement. Blizzard is perhaps one of the most stable employers who have great pay and amazing benefits. And the fact they're letting him complete his degree and holding his job for him speaks volumes about what they think of him. So well done there.

Posted by: MikeD at October 8, 2014 08:50 AM