E-Sport sport or not?
E-Sport is recognized as a sport! in Germany? Not really, is it? Well, maybe. In the coalition papers of the government it says at least. But will it come? Is that really sport?
A small review
For the League of Legends player Diamondprox it was a tough start into 2016. At the beginning of the year the player's residence permit expired. He has to go back to Russia, is no longer allowed to stay in Germany and is therefore no longer allowed to play in the League of Legends Europaliga, which takes place in Berlin. A Russian soccer player would simply have got a sports visa, but a gambler would not. The pirates in the Berlin House of Representatives are angry. But Berlin's sports senator Frank Henkel is swaying. E-Sport is not a sport, the pirates remain tough and ask questions:
Henkel avoids the question. The Berlin pirates wanted to know exactly and commissioned an expert opinion to assess e-sports as a sport. The report is devastating: No, e-sport is not a sport. To justify their decision, the experts mainly refer to the rules of the German Olympic Sports Federation, DOSB for short. It determines what counts as sport and what doesn't. The DOSB clings to three main criteria that a sport must fulfil - and e-sport does not fulfil any of them for the association.
Case 1: Sport is sport if you move
According to the guidelines of the DOSB, e-sports lack "their own motor activity that determines the type of sport": you just have to move. An argument that Michael Bister does not want to accept. Michael Bister is the German head of e-sports at the Electronic Sports League (ESL):
"We can always come up with the nice example of chess, no athlete sweats. Whereas in Starcraft 2, for example, a player has up to 300 keystrokes per minute on the keyboard. That's where the players actually start sweating. And above all, it's a mental effort that takes place."
Together with sports scientists, the ESL has been working for years for the recognition of e-sports as a real sport.
Case 2: No sport without clubs
Especially the killer argument of the Olympic Sports Federation makes the recognition of e-sports difficult: e-sports has no club structure. To be recognized as a sport, clubs with a total of 10000 members are necessary in Germany. But to be honest: Do they need them at all? After all, it's all about e-sports, a sport that is mainly practiced online. E-Sport could theoretically be the first unlimited sport in the world. Location, age, gender, disability - all that doesn't matter in e-sports. A half-sided paralyzed teenager from Wanne-Eikel can compete with the African-American pensioner from New York - as long as her skill is right. This utopia contradicts the encrusted rules and ideas of the Olympic Sports Federation.
Case 3: Sport must be ethically valuable
Also the last argument of the DOSB is from the past. Because a sport must adhere to ethical values: These include fair play, equal opportunities, inviolability of the person and so on.
Have fun proving fair play in Olympic Ultimate Fighting. The report requested by the pirates goes even further with the ethical values. That is what it says:
"After all, the judicial recognition of e-sports as sport can also be hindered by the fact that certain e-sports games are characterised by violent contents.
The most important e-sports disciplines
As if fencing, boxing or sport shooting are so much better. Here you can still hear the echo of the killer game debate - one of the biggest nonsense debates in video game history. And like them, in a few years you'll probably look back at the question of whether e-sports are now a sport or not. Namely, shaking your head. Recognition would help the e-sports scene in Germany a lot. Michael Bister from the ESL is sure: "It will happen one way or the other. The question is always when."
The Asian Olympic Committee has meanwhile included eSport in its programme for the Asian Games. In 2022, Olympic gold will be on the virtual playing field for the first time.