By H. Esteves
Sports have been around since at least 1000 BC, that’s 3021 years for a conservative estimate - based solely on the documented history of sports. Many historians believe that in reality, they may have dated back up to 16,000 years, with a wrestling-like sport appearing in cavemen paintings in Lascaux, France. Others even argue that sports were not born at a specific date or time, but rather they are human nature and have existed as long as we have, in some type of shape or form, even if it is simply in hunting a wild animal for food. Whatever interpretation you may have, it is clear that a new horizon is coming up, in the form of e-sports.
E-sports are defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers”. It has been predicted that in 2023 the number of gamers in the world will surpass three billion, and the rise of E-Sports should accompany also. Nonetheless, there is one question that still has no answers, will they rise to rival, or even, to overcome traditional sports completely?
Some would answer in a heartbeat, ‘there’s not a chance they will overcome traditional sports’, but still that odd, almost dystopian feeling traps that thought in our heads. And graphics, like the one above from 2018, often crop up. The argument goes on that with technological advancements, it will become even more entertaining to watch and play E-Sports, as different machines and consoles are developed, incorporating exciting new mechanisms such as virtual reality. Plus, it is likely that videogames in the future will be even more of a common commodity for households as electronics become more widely available. Additionally, E-sports have the advantage that they are not held to a single region’s culture—like how football is rooted in Brazilian culture—hence they have international potential for growth. Therefore, with seemingly all the advantages over traditional sports, how can we be sure that they will not surpass them?
Normally, it would be appropriate at this point of the article to come to a conclusion. To a prediction for what’s next. To an ending, or to some final thoughts. Yet, there is no comforting end-stop to this topic. Many believe that the current popularity and viewership of E-sports is a bubble—destined to pop and to leave traditional sports in mainstream forever. But there are some that believe that this is the future. That, in a few tens of years, we will live in a virtual world where even sports, the most physical, human, away-from-the-screen activity becomes strapped to a machine.
It’s not exactly a reassuring thought. And I assume that if you are reading this article, you would rather let things stay as they are in the sports world. I certainly would. And there is a counterargument to everything I’ve brought up till now. And that is that we, as a species, require physical games like sports for our entertainment, they are rooted to our cultures and societies, they have been around for at least thousands of years, and they are real. They actually happen, they don’t simulate, they truly exist. So, even though I can’t give the satisfaction of ending this article with a prediction, I can assure you that even if E-Sports overtake traditional ones, our good old sports will never go extinct.