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For years, video games and sports haven’t exactly gone hand-in-hand. After all, playing a video game is usually a sedentary activity. You sit in front of a TV screen or computer and press buttons. There is skill involved, but it’s not an athletic activity. And yet, video games such as Street Fighter, Overwatch, and Call of Duty are being played competitively in professional competitions. They are known as e-sports, and while some say that they are just as valid and legitimate as more athletic sports, others claim that they shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence as football or baseball. It’s a controversial subject among gamers and sports fans, and it has some compelling arguments from both sides.

Yes, E-Sports Are Sports

Those who claim that e-sports are real sports like to cite the amount of skill it takes to excel at certain games. It’s one thing to play a game to completion or play it with some friends; it’s another thing entirely to find ways to play that wouldn’t occur to the average gamer. Playing at the level of a professional requires hours of practice and dedication, just like with a “real” sport. If you play on a team, you also need to practice and coordinate with your teammates, just as you would if you were on a football or basketball team.

As for those who claim that e-sports aren’t real sports because of the lack of physical activity, the same thing can be said about competitive chess or poker, both of which are played professionally. People admire the best players of both of those games, so why should video games be any different?

Finally, there’s the fact that e-sports competitions are starting to gain the level of prestige that is normally reserved for other sporting events. One 2014 e-sports championship was held in a Seoul soccer stadium and was viewed by 27 million fans, and there are even colleges who give out e-sports scholarships.

No, E-Sports Aren’t Real Sports

Despite the legitimacy of e-sports, there are still some who claim that they are not actually sports. They are respected as competitions, but the naysayers claim that real sports are athletic competitions. Being alert and in shape certainly helps you with the reflexed needed to pay a video game well, but you’re still sitting in front of a screen pressing buttons. It’s hardly as strenuous as running for a touchdown or hitting a home-run. Besides, anybody can buy a game console or a PC and play the same games that the pros play. Why would the average gamer be any different from them?

The debate of whether or not e-sports should be legitimate sports is one that is probably not going to be resolved anytime soon. Video games are getting more mainstream attention than they ever did before, and they’re becoming as lucrative and important in the entertainment industry as film and television, but will people come around and treat them with the same renown as the NFL or NBA? It’s likely that we will get there, but it will take some convincing.

In the meantime, enjoy playing your favorite games. Maybe you can become a true professional one day.

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