Esports Takes Off at DRHS

Rocket League is played by  the DRHS Esports team.

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Rocket League is played by the DRHS Esports team.

Collin House, Staff Writer

Esports, or Electronic Sports, means “Video games that are played in a highly organized and competitive environment,” according to Harvard International Review. As early as 1998, Esports has been around and active, but it’s only recently making the rounds in the world of sports. Did the public just one day agree this could be considered a sport, or does Esports have a chance to redefine what sports could or couldn’t be? 

It’s important first to understand what defines a sport. By definition, a sport must be physical in some way, so if an activity doesn’t involve physical exertion, it’s considered active recreation. Another primary factor to define sports is competition, including rules, victors, and regulation. Organization is the third and final factor in sports, making it easier for the players to progress. With these considerations, Esports does qualify as a sport by definition, according to Clearinghouse for Sport. 

In Esports, players demonstrate physical actions through skill and motor control.   They compete in the games themselves (FPS, MOBA, Sports SIM). Teams are organized by national bodies and leagues dedicated to Esports (Faze Clan, CLoud9, Team Liquid, etc). So, by definition, Esports is considered a sport. 

But what about when you compare these factors? A similarity to any other sports team, for example, is the task — not particularly the motive to be able to throw a ball through a hoop, or slap a puck into a net, but rather, the motive of progressing with a team, competing against another team, and overall progressing to victory. 

Another common aspect between typical sports and Esports is the regulation and management of the sport. It’s common for schools to have some form of eligibility for players and to “Raise academic rules for athletes,” according to ESPN. This being said, the same applies for Esports.

“Both are CHSAA sanctioned, so we have to follow the same rules and regulations as any other CHSAA sanctioned event via football, tennis, soccer, lacrosse. These kids can now apply for a variety of scholarships. They’re giving away 2 billion dollars for Esports scholarships, which isn’t a lot compared to other sports, but it’s climbing,” DRHS Esports sponsor, Mark Sherman, said.

A common misconception about Esports is that it isn’t a “true” sport and is seen as merely a hobby, therefore, not applicable where sports would be applicable. In reality, 175 colleges and universities are members of the NACE (National Association of Collegiate Esports). This also serves to the competitive factor of the sport, as leagues and tournaments are common in the world of Esports. And, yes, Esports can be just as competitive compared to any other sport.

While Esports may be comparable to regular sports, this does not at all mean that Esports is your average Stanley Cup or Kentucky Derby contender. There are definitely some defining factors that make Esports an outlier. While every sport has structure and multiple ways to play, the way that the structures play themselves out in Esports is different. Esports rely on communication between players, this includes callouts, warnings, affirmations, etc.  The structure of the sport also requires a rhythm, as in keeping a pace to move forward. Another way that Esports differs from a regular sport is how a player can progress professionally, whether that be through practice, college recruitment, or career. Most sports have a planned pathway for players, or a route they can take. The primary guidance along that pathway in a regular sport might be supported by coaches, physical mentors, or trainers. Esports teams, however, are not coached, and the team members are left to coordinate among themselves. Some might ask, then, what is the point of the NACE? What’s the point of implementing Esports in schools if it doesn’t lead to a typical sports trajectory?  The difference is that team members join the team out of interest and simply to support and compete for their schools. 

Regardless of the advancements in Esports, the future of this relatively new field is unknown. But, if at any point you feel interested in Esports, contact the DRHS team sponsor Mark Sherman about the Dakota Ridge Esports club. The club meets most days after school, and they compete on Thursdays.