August 12, 2016
In recent years, eSports have taken the world by storm. Not only have gaming tournaments popped up all over the world with prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, eSports events have started being televised on major networks. And while sitting at a computer desktop is hardly the picture of athletic prowess we expect, it’s hard to argue with the thousands of gamers and millions of fans the digital battleground has attracted. So how far can eSports go? Some think all the way to the Olympic games.
That’s right, gamers could carry the torch alongside Michael Phelps and Simone Biles in future games if things go the right way for eSports. Last February, the International eSports Federation began the process of getting recognized by the International Olympic Committee. After receiving a response in early April, the organization now has a detailed plan for the best ways to eventually become a sport.
“We still have many tasks to cover and this will be indeed a difficult challenge,” said Byung Hun Jun, President of IeSF in a statement on their website. “Nevertheless, we will keep on driving our forces for e-sports to become an official sport and also care for the welfare of e-sport athletes.”
The popularity of eSports is undeniable. They have reached audiences up to 214 millions viewers in 2016 alone, with a potential viewership as high as 300 million by the end of 2019. And with eSports earnings hitting almost $1 billion this year, it’s hard to argue with the viability of the gaming world in the Olympic arena.
So how could they do it? The IeSF is currently waiting to hear back about their status from the International Olympic Committee. They expect to hear back in December and their fate will be decided from there. And while the debate will likely rage on, those close to the decision are confident something will come through a lot sooner than everyone thinks.
“I think it’ll be sooner than people normally anticipate,” said Jace Hall, CEO of eSports team Echo Fox to Mashable. “The rate of growth that you’re seeing in competitive gaming is so dramatic compared to other analogs that you might look at.”
The Olympics landscape is always changing. Just this year, golf was added to the games, proving that you don’t need to be an athlete to compete in the Olympics (sick burn!). But will people really accept gamers into the world of organized sports? I can already see tweets forming from famed athletes that will be outraged by the inclusion, if it ever comes to be. And while the world might not be ready for an eSports event on the sports world’s greatest stage, the future is coming. And we’re all just going to have to get used to it.
H / T Mashable
Photo: Flickr / Sam Churchill
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