: Is A Professional Gamer Really A Pro "Athlete?"

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Is A Professional Gamer Really A Pro "Athlete?"

The US government now recognizes League of Legends players as professional athletes. They'll even award visas for gamers to come to this country to play, believe it or not.

Riot Games eSports manager told GameSpot that this is a "groundbreaking decision." Well, I suppose it is.

But I mean, really, can we call professional gamers "athletes?" Webster's defines "athlete" as "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina." By that definition, I fail to see how pressing buttons accurately can qualify you as an athlete. There's no doubt that pro gaming features competition; that's not in question. I also wouldn't claim that pro gaming doesn't require a large amount of talent, because it does. It requires great hand-eye coordination and lots of practice.

In that way, I would definitely say pro gamers are competitors. But athletes? Really? Many will make the argument by saying, "Well, if billiards players or darts players are considered athletes, than so are pro gamers." And that'd be a true statement...if I agreed that pro pool players or pro bowlers are actually athletes, and I don't. The games in question demand a ridiculous amount of precision and a huge amount of diligence and talent. I must repeat that. But you aren't required to excel in the realm of physical strength, agility or stamina, as per Webster's definition.

Here's my bottom line- If you can be one of the best in the world at anything, and you can do so with a gut and an extra chin, you are not an athlete. You're just amazingly good at a competitive game, which I also hesitate to call a sport. If you can't run a mile in under twelve freakin' minutes and you're a world champion of anything where you're called an "athlete," I say something's wrong. So sue me.

7/12/2013 Ben Dutka

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Comments (42 posts)

Nas Is Like
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 10:30:51 PM
Reply

I don't consider gaming to be a sport, rather a hobby. Therefore, you can't exactly be a professional athlete in a hobby because in this case, it's not really a sport. All you're doing is sitting down and playing using your fingers and thumbs. Simple as that.

I'm excluding the Kinect/PS Eye in my example.

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Neo_Aeon666
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 9:34:54 PM

That doesn't work because a sport can also be a hobby. In fact sport is a hobby for probably 99% of the americain population.

So in that optic, league of legends, is a hobby that is also a sport that requires teamwork, coordination and precision.

Did you know chess is considered a sport? People are all accepting that. It has been so for a long time too. I don't see leagur being any different.

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xenris
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 10:39:58 PM
Reply

No they are not athletes. They can be professional gamers or whatever but they have to find another word. I played competitive shooters and while the training is similar its more mental stuff, its not like I did finger pushups to make my fingers better at pushing the keyboard :P

So no, no they are not.

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Temjin001
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:14:55 AM

Xenris is an athlete. Put up your vids of you doing flips and round house kicks.

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xenris
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 12:45:51 PM

hahah maybe I will :P

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Banky A
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 10:41:09 PM
Reply

lets not beat around the bush gaming isnt a athletic sport and doesnt require athleticism (its what i/we do when im TOO lazy to move around and want to relax).

even if lol requires good judgement, strategy and if in the tournys your lungs arent even getting worked and your head isnt throbbing about to die - hopefully. i watched 2012 championships and was great though.

with extreme arcade fighters you need crazy wrist + finger agility, co-ordination and stamina but so does studying and guitar. i also watch EVO, anime fighter comps and so on. i really want to see a proven boxing or amateur lay it down on a boxing or combat game.. being their cooldown pass-time or something).

its great gaming is getting this treatment though. makes the fun much more tangible to spiteful adults out there :)

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cLoudou
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 10:57:46 PM
Reply

No...


I don't even consider drivers as athletes but I'd put them in front of gamers.

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JROD0823
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 10:50:20 AM

@cLoudou,

If you knew the effort involved in actually driving a race car of any type, you would change your opinion of drivers pretty quickly.

Drivers train in gyms just as hard as any other athlete does, and when they are in the car and on track, their heart rates run as high as the highest heart rates experienced by athletes playing on a field of any sort, but those heart rates stay elevated for the entire duration of the race, which is something that only professional cyclists or another type of endurance athlete can come close to relating to.

I hope I have opened your eyes to the real story on drivers, because they deserve many times over more respect than they typically get. :)

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cLoudou
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 3:08:17 PM

It was my opinion lol but hey you gave me a nice view of the training these guys go through.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 11:07:10 PM
Reply

Plenty of sports don't require athleticism so it's fine with me. Soccer comes to mind :P

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, July 12, 2013 @ 11:50:59 PM

Uh.....as much as I hate soccer, I'm assuming that's a joke. ;)

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cLoudou
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 12:02:26 AM

t(>.< t)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 12:09:30 AM

lol yeah just joking.

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Killa Tequilla
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 8:31:52 AM

Any football(soccer) player will outrun any handegg player.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 10:21:53 AM

Not Adrian Peterson

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Killa Tequilla
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:07:46 AM

Soccer players run daily for 90minutes minimum. It's tough trying to outrun them when all they do is run.

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Temjin001
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:29:05 AM

American football players shoot up roids for freakish speed and strength.

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VampDeLeon
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 12:33:08 AM
Reply

It's a 'maybe', only for those dancing & aerobics games that actually require physical activity with the dance pads and motion sensors.

Otherwise, "professional gamers" would be the more appropriate term.

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 1:19:21 AM
Reply

I read somewhere that a professional gamer in Warcraft can do up to 400 APM (actions per minute) on AVERAGE. That's nearly 7 actions a SECOND during a match that can last for like 40 minutes. It's worth thinking about for a moment, what that requires.

Now, if this qualifies as an "athlete" or not I'll leave up to others to define as they like. But one should realize the level of performance we talk about here. It's most definitely a performance, it's something that requires tons of practise, skills and focus.


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/13/2013 1:21:40 AM

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Ludicrous_Liam
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 8:00:13 AM

I can't help but snigger at that. Sorry you hardcore WoW players out there. Can just imagine it on some American sports channel "Oh and get a load of this guys stats. He can do over 7 APS. PER SECOND" lol!!!

I do love some competitive gaming, and I think even if you practice everything, the difference between two players is reaction times and smart thinking. And you need to be 1:1 with the controller. A lot of factors really that require a certain amount of natural ability.

But to say it's a sport is a thing of comedy.

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sawao_yamanaka
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 10:07:35 AM

Poker is considered a sport. Why can't this? It isn't any different than other things. Fishing is considered a sport as well and there really isn't anything extraneous in it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:04:11 AM

Of course it's a performance. And it requires precision, skill, focus, dexterity, etc.

...still doesn't make them an athlete, because as I said, you can do all of that and still be cruisin' for a heart attack.

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LowKey
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 3:05:18 PM

Duuuude, you just hit a nerve. Nothing extraneous about fishing? Ok, you try fighting a 20 pound Muskie for 3 1/2 hours straight, then come back and tell me anglers aren't athletes.

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 4:44:08 PM

I'm not really trying to make an argument in the "what's an athlete" discussion, as far as I am concerned it's just a label anyway.

But I just happened to learn about this whole thing about "APM" just a couple of days ago at work from a gamer that's into these things and found it to be both interesting and quite impressive.

An "action" is anything from selecting units to issuing any command. Just imagine making 4-5 actions (including the necessary decisions leading to them) every SECOND, non-stop, for three quarters straight. Good grief...!

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Neo_Aeon666
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 9:43:16 PM

I think you should open your sights and admit to different types of athletes. Just like we call casual gamers *gamers*.

They are esport athletes. They train for it and excel in it. Basing your judgment on an old definition that was created before gaming even existed is weird. It might even be updated at some point if esports gain in popularity.

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Underdog15
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 2:30:49 AM
Reply

Haha cute.

Only in "fastfood nation".

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Draguss
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 7:23:27 AM
Reply

I'm horribly uninformed on this and am just going by the visa thing you mentioned, so if I'm completely wrong, I apologize. It's probably just a legal thing; the country recognizes them as athletes so they get the same rights as professional players of any other game, athletic or not.

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 3:09:04 PM

That's what I was thinking too. Sounds like a thing of formality, really.

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sawao_yamanaka
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 10:08:56 AM
Reply

Both billiards and poker are considered sports. I don't see anything wrong in this. So yes, I consider them atha-le-tes.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:04:58 AM

Pro Scrabble and mini golf players call what they do "sports," too. Does that make them athletes? I think not.

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sawao_yamanaka
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 11:13:11 AM

Do you actually know the definition of athlete? They are athletes by definition. So to bring them down because they play "games" is wrong. I am not talking about "they" I am talking about sports broadcasters and the masses. I won't call what I do a sport because I do it. It has to be acknowledge which billiards and poker have been acknowledge by espn and such.

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Underdog15
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 12:20:05 AM

Poker is not considered a sport from the academic perspective. (speaking as a Phys. Ed. major) Only on ESPN. And you -REALLY- can't say something is a sport just because it's shown on ESPN. They've done specials on Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions... modeling isn't a sport just because it was shown on ESPN.

We had fun with this debate in "The Philosophy of Sport", too. But when you really examine it, it quickly becomes just a little silly.

Billiards can be considered a sport, but only just barely. It falls under the same as archery or skeet shooting, technically.

But poker doesn't fit any definition. "Competitive" doesn't define it either. It's just a byproduct for entertainment purposes. The best people can come up with is because your heart rate rises and you have to control your body. But... trading stocks on the stock market (often no different from gambling) is not a sport either, you know.

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slugga_status
Saturday, July 13, 2013 @ 6:29:57 PM
Reply

As a former athlete I'll have to say that gamers aren't athletes. Poker isn't a sport and neither is fishing. Fishing is more along the lines of professional hunting. It's a joke to call gamers athletes

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Underdog15
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 12:23:07 AM

As a phys ed major, I gotta point out you're just wrong about fishing and hunting. Well, at least in saying they can't be sporting activities. Going out on the yacht to fish isn't sporting. But when you get into tracking and serious game fishing/hunting, it's acceptable to consider it a sport.

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slugga_status
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 3:07:11 PM
Reply

Fishing definitely is a gray area. I agree that it is a sporting activity. I wouldn't call a fisherman am athlete though. Hard to categorize it as I've been raised around pro fishermen and leisure fishermen

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TheRealBOBDOLE
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 8:40:33 PM
Reply

I think an important question to ask here is: Why are you so defensive of the title "athlete"?

The only reason the word athlete means anything, is because humans decided so. If humans decide to change that meaning, there is nothing wrong with it.

It would seem that you are trying to say that "athlete" is somehow a sacred right or some such. This is as ridiculous as saying that athletes are not allowed to be geniuses because they haven't spent enough time doing calculus. Who in their right mind would agree with that?

The word "ain't" didn't used to be in the dictionary. Now it is. The use will change first, THEN the definition change will come. But don't presume that just because you don't FEEL that they are athletes, or FEEL that they are worthy of the title, that you are in any way correct.

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Neo_Aeon666
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 9:45:36 PM

This. Totally.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, July 15, 2013 @ 4:35:45 PM

Blather. All you're saying is that the definition of "athlete" can't be used because humans made the definition. If it changes, it changes. We're not going to pretend an athlete is something different based on that vague possibility.

Based on the definition as it stands, they're not athletes. Tap dance around it all you want; doesn't change anything. I really despise this "facts are never facts" BS.

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Neo_Aeon666
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 @ 8:00:54 PM

Mmm rephrase this as: Based on *My* interpretation as it stands.

Athlete has many definitions.

One of them is: PERSON who practices a sport.

Now this has been recognized as a sport.

So they ARE athletes.

Not muscular ones. But they do train and need skills to win. Just like Chess athletes.

You just have to open your eyes. There are many types of athletes like there are many types of gamers. This has been recognized by a majority of people so it is now why we must now recognize them as such. You can be the minority all you want though. Always an opposing party. But you will be assimilated in due time :P

Last edited by Neo_Aeon666 on 7/17/2013 8:03:23 PM

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chuckuykendall
Sunday, July 14, 2013 @ 9:38:16 PM
Reply

I don't care for the term athlete...maybe sportsman, maybe.

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PharaohJR
Monday, July 15, 2013 @ 4:11:21 AM
Reply

dedicated VG players a athlete...... i dont see it. professional gamer sound right not athlete. its lots of other activities that classifies one as a athlete i dont get either.

picture that conversation......


u play sports man?
yuh
koo u athletic, what sport?
Video games
...................... (scratch head). lol good joke man but foreal.

ask yal a trick question.... hope everybody that responds dont take it inappropriate. yal mentioned heart rates & etc, if a guy bends over numerous ladies in a day, week month or whatever is he considered a athlete?

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Lunar_Miyuki
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 @ 12:24:24 PM
Reply

hunting with a sniper rifle is a sport and all that really requires is percision and hand eye cordination get target sighted in your scope steady your rifle and pull the trigger and bam its dead

and just to top off the subject with an odd detail but since were all gamers here did you know Gaming is South Koreas national sport?im serious

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