Illustration by Tom Richmond (gamers); Debate photos courtesy of families

Is Playing Video Games a Sport?

On February 3, about 100 million people are expected to watch America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl. But three months ago, almost as many people around the world watched two teams face off in the finals of a video game tournament. The competition is called the League of Legends World Championship. It’s one of the biggest in e-sports (short for electronic sports).

As e-sports grow in popularity, more people consider playing video games to be a sport. More than 100 colleges in the United States now have e-sports teams. Many of those schools offer scholarships, just as they do for top athletes. The organizers of the Olympics are even considering adding e-sports competitions in the future.

Still, many people say e-sports don’t belong in the same category as traditional sports. They argue an event isn’t a sport just because a lot of people watch it. They point out that cooking competitions and talent shows are shown on TV. But few people would consider either of them to be a sport.

Here’s what two of our readers think.

Just like football or soccer, e-sports are all about competition. They require skill and concentration. The best players are so talented, they’re like the LeBron James of video games. Serious gamers spend many hours sharpening their skills. Some pro gaming teams practice for up to 50 hours a week.

Some people say playing video games doesn’t involve physical activity. But that’s not always true. When I play Wii sports, I move around and sometimes even get out of breath.

A sport involves physical activity and skill. Playing video games takes skill. But it doesn’t require enough movement to make it a sport. In fact, people often sit for hours while playing video games. Actual sports, like basketball, help kids get exercise.

Just because there are a lot of e-sports competitions doesn’t make playing video games a sport. People compete in spelling bees where winners get prizes. Yet that’s not a sport. And neither is playing video games.

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