Whether we see Esports in Olympics or not, it seems that Esports doesn’t really need to be included in the event to prosper at all.
In fact, Esports gained so much traction itself that the question may even be reversed. Some people are speculating that the Olympics need Esports more than the other way around. Lately, the institution that dates all the way to the 19th century (if we only count the modern iterations) is struggling to catch the attention of a younger audience.
Twitter’s Southeast Asian head of sports partnerships Maurizio Barbieri only confirmed such concerns: “I think it would be great for the Olympic programme to have eSports because they are going to be able to capture the attention of a new audience that otherwise would disappear.”
Several global brands across the world are jumping on the hype train. Nike, the company who already sponsors most regular sports organizations, is sponsoring the gaming teams with their merchandise. Automotive companies like Mercedes and BMW already jumped in the ever-expanding business, providing the teams with their branded vehicles. Even McDonalds dropped their sponsorship of a Germany’s national football team to shift their focus on Esports! This is only a tiny portion of the actual piles of companies and organizations focusing on Esports.
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Beginning next year, professional Esports players will be fully clothed in Nike’s designer clothing.
Philip So is the head of business development in Riot Games, the company that makes League of Legends. He had something to say about this matter: “Esports already hit the mainstream, a couple of years back. But the Nike sponsorship had a huge reaction from our fans when we announced it anyway, even from the Nike side. I think it’s surprising to everyone as to much buzz it generated.”
Despite this convincing situation, the decision was made. To many young people’s disappointment, Esports will not be included in 2024 Paris Olympics games. The earliest iteration of the Olympics which may include Esports is 2028 Los Angeles, as it was omitted on the list of nominated sports for the 2024 event. Many fans are wondering about this odd move as many other youth-friendly competitions have been included like breakdancing, surfing or skateboarding.
Of course, the Olympics are not the only major event Esports can make an appearance on. In Asia, Esports was a demonstration event in the Asian Games. The viewing figures in China, despite not being broadcasted to TV, actually outweighed the views of the traditional sports. It looks like we are living in a completely game-changing time.
Of course, as with any other global trends, there are many who oppose this one. Traditionalists argue that the immense screen-time and inactivity cannot be good for a person’s health. Of course, this is true, but I personally don’t see how Esports prohibits someone from leading a healthy lifestyle while not on work. Realistically, most of us now spend the majority of our time in front of a screen after all.
China as a country is quite cautious of this new phenomenon but is embracing it at the same time. The country was temporarily suspending releases of some new online games. On the other hand, though, China’s ministry remains a supporter of Esports, distinctively recognizing Esports gaming as a legitimate profession.
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Philip So thinks Esports don’t really make the Chinese government nervous. They work very closely with the Chinese Sports Bureau and have a mutual interest in expanding the sport. When asked whether we’ll eventually see Esports in Olympics, So answered with “I honestly don’t know. I wish I had the answer.”
Aside from the concerns about the lack of physical activities, the entire Esports scene is fragmented in another way. Namely, the problem is that the games required for the sports are all created by competing studios. This can make a disruption in the flow of the business in the long run. “How an overarching arm across all different games would work, I’d be very curious to know,” So added.
One thing is certain – we live in some very interesting times which can be a make-or-break situation for many traditional institutions. As things are rapidly developing, all we can do is wait and see what happens. And, of course, hope for the best!