Should Video-Gamers Be Considered Athletes?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Video gamers are absolutely not athletes. A partial definition of the word athlete, from the Encarta Dictionary, is “somebody with the abilities to participate in physical exercise.” (emphasis is mine) Sitting on a sofa or at a desk, manipulating a joystick or computer keyboard, can in no way be construed as physical exercise. It’s unlikely one’s heart rate increases when playing a video game. A gamer’s respiration doesn’t increase. They likely do not break a sweat or experience oxygen-deprived muscle aches due to the buildup of excess lactic acid. Metabolism is certainly not elevated noticeably in those who play video games.

That said, video gaming could certainly be considered a sporting activity or competition, much like any board game, gambling game, or game show that utilizes brains, chance, or luck instead of brawn, skill, or superior physical conditioning. People attend poker tournaments, game shows, and chess tournaments to watch their favorite players win or lose. The fact that those competitions are often shown on sports television stations such as ESPN in no way legitimizes those activities as sports, or legitimizes the participants as athletes, despite whatever terms the announcers might use to describe the players.

Calling video gamers athletes is a brazen attempt by advertisers, television executives, and video game producers to generate interest and excitement in the latest video games. The sole reason for that is to sell more video games, sell more advertising time, or attract eyeballs to websites devoted to professional video games, which is an alternative form of advertising. Calling video gamers athletes is also a gross insult to real athletes who devote their blood, sweat, and tears along with untold hours of training and studying in order to push the limits of man’s physical endurance, strength, speed, skill, and agility.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-According to our good friend Webster, and athlete is someone who is “trained in or good at sports, games or exercises that require physical skill and strength.”

I could pretty much cut this post off here, drop the mic and walk away. Until virtual reality gaming evolves to the point that those playing Call of Duty must actually run, jump and physically fight adversaries, video gamers are not athletes. No matter how much sweat may bead on the brow of a gamer who’s been running a multi-player battle simulation for 10 hours fueled only by Red Bull and fury, he or she is not by any stretch of the imagination an athlete.

George Carlin famously said, “It’s not a sport if no one’s playing defense,” and I would add a codicil that “You’re not an athlete if you can play your ‘sport’ while sitting in a desk chair.” It’s simple logic.

I’m not here going to go off and mock professional gamers. I love video games, and I have no doubt that were I 20 years younger and possessed of reflexes and hand-eye coordination not bludgeoned by three decades of dissolute, self-indulgent living that I’d be doing my level best to be one. These games are challenging, beautifully rendered and require a nimbleness of mind that no racquetball player or weekend rugby jock could begin to touch.

And the money! Pro gamers, especially those lucky enough to be sponsored by game manufacturers, have tapped into huge pools of lucre. They are quite honestly getting paid to play games, but the hours and days they spend preparing, practicing and selecting team members are what the public rarely sees. There’s real work here…just not of the athletic kind.

And now, this fading athlete is off to the gym. Since I’m hopeless at any video game not involving Mario, I guess I’d better hit the elliptical.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Let’s make something clear, I’m not an analyst and I’ve never had the opportunity to compete in any major athletic event. Regardless, what I speak of is strictly with regards to my experiences and mine alone.

Based on what I’ve seen on TV, athletes engage in various sporting activities. Most have dedicated their entire time to a life of training and have to keep strict diets. That work is not limited, as they exert much power, energy and stamina when actually engaging in a live game such as swimming, track and field etc. That is a lot of work and based on the factors at play, they’re real athletes, nothing manufactured.

However, I really don’t see video gamers in that light. I won’t question the skills of any gamer, but I’ll just leave my circle simple and talk about what my husband and I do. We play video games (A LOT!). We would never consider ourselves athletes, as there’s no physical activities involved (only the movement of our fingers and occasionally head), our moves aren’t strategic or would be categorized as skills and we don’t prepare in advance through rigorous work before playing a video game; we simply turn on our consoles and connect. Really, there’s nothing athletic about that, even teenage kids are doing it, maybe even better than we can.

When we’re playing video games, our butts are glued to the couch, and we even have the luxuries of doing anything else we want (maybe whip up a sandwich). Really, where’s the athleticism?

Prescott Valley, NV Correspondent-Video gamers could be considered athletes in the sense that they do make certain movements with their hands and eyes that require hand-eye coordination, and many pro gamers from other parts of the world are required to participate in physical activities such as running, swimming and lifting weights as a way to improve in their gaming, but as far as being seasoned athletes in the sense that serious, physical training is involved, it is hard to view video gamers as true athletes in the sense of what defines an athlete.

True sports, and athlete involved in them, require intense physical exertion, stamina, activity and perpetual motion. Video gamers may have to acquire quick reflexes and perform interactions, input and rapid exchanges, but they still push a button that releases an electronic signal rather than actual physical, bodily movement.

A video game as such is electronically controlled through a screen and is represented as an illusion that something is moving. A gamer is not actually physically moving in the real sense of an activity such as baseball, football, soccer, tennis, track, and even bowling. The electronic circuitry behind the screen is completing the movement not the body of the gamer.

When a dictionary defines a sport as physical activity involving exertion that is compacted with skills coupled with competitive factors where a player or players go against one another as individuals or a team for a competitive win, perhaps athleticism can be applied to video gaming; however, the actual physical exertion involvement is where the two are separated concerning real athletic endeavors. That is one reason that video gaming should not be characterized as athleticism or a sport.

Video gamers, like athletes, participate in various activities for fun, entertainment and competition and many are paid for their professional abilities. With video gamers the skill sets are limited to critical thinking aspects (muscle memory) and immediate problem solving abilities. Gamers are more involved in strategizing, and coordinating hand and eye movements than they are exercising, building and caring for their bodies as actual athletes are committed to within a sport, either as amateurs or professionals.

Video gamers are involved in a game whether for fun or competition, and the actual video game becomes the playing field or platform for their input. They are not actually physically on the field or pushing their bodies to the maximum within it. They are simply manipulating and playing what’s on the screen from an illusionary setting or platform.

Real athletes play in a physical setting and have been trained to do so through actual athletic exertion and intense training. One other defining difference between a gamer and an athlete is that real athletes are involved in activities that are conducive to good health and well-being. Not as much can be said for high level video gamers as they can become addicted to the games, fame, notoriety and the big money. True, seasoned athletes and sports-minded individuals participate in their games for the love of and devotion to their sports, the advantages to their health and how they can take their years of training to higher commitments beyond financial gain.

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