Football has established its fanbases over years of play. The international language of the sport means that it has been adopted as a favourite past time by those around the world. For what is ostensibly a game of kicking a ball around, the sport is revered. Could eSports follow in football’s footsteps and discover how to be taken more seriously by those in the mainstream?
Men’s football has been a part of the modern Summer Olympics games since its inception (barring 1896 and 1932). Women’s football was even added in Atlanta in 1996, which helped the branch of the sport gain further legitimacy at a time when women’s football was seen as dramatically different than men’s. The inclusion in the world’s biggest and most revered sporting competition shows that football has credibility. But could eSports also be added to the Olympics?
Some eSports fanatics argue that the Olympics – in the US at least – loses viewership year on year. In fact, the Olympics is more about the hosting city than about the sport. eSports fans suggest that with the addition of professional gaming, younger audiences may be attracted to watching the Olympics. The idea stands up – Twitch, which helps host gaming streams has millions of viewers, most of whom are interested in professional competitive gaming.
eSports is doing well by following football in one aspect, however. While online sites offer many opportunities for sports betting – from football to tennis, hockey to basketball – there is also the opportunity to bet on eSports. Being offered as a form of betting has helped older audiences begin to take eSports seriously. The addition of money helps give eSports more credibility.
In terms of betting on eSports, it does follow the same principles as football. Players can be analysed based on past performance. There are coaches and sponsors, as well as tournaments that allow fans to follow teams and players. There is a thriving social community online. If eSports applies this same attitude to other aspects to be more like football, it could be seen as a more legitimate sport.
Back in 2017, it was reported that eSports would be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games. The sport/gaming industry has been more readily adopted in the east. Not only is Japan the spiritual home of video games, but China promotes their technology sector, which encompasses eSports. However, proponents of the industry were puzzled, despite the bluster, to discover that in the 2019 event announcement there was no mention of eSports.
It was suggested that the lack of a single international federation meant that eSports couldn’t be officially accepted. Football has FIFA, for instance. Gaining this international body and having some consensus could help see eSports be taken seriously.
Football is in a league of its own. eSports, which many dub the football of the future, could potentially carve a niche for itself. But while football is a simple game with a set of rules and an appeal that many are attracted to, eSports is viewed as being more niche. There are dozens of different eSports titles, for instance. There are also financial barriers to becoming a player. But by following in the footsteps of football, eSports could eventually become a legitimate alternative to physical sports.