Pro Gamers as Athletes?

A few days ago, I came across this article on whether professional gamers should be considered athletes. While I don’t necessarily think the work “athlete” is appropriate to describe professional gamers, my reasons are nothing more than technical. Consider the definition from Dictionary.com:

“A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.”

From my point of view, the only reason this isn’t necessarily a good word is the inclusion of “requiring”.

During the League of Legends World Championship Playoffs last week, one of the commentators mentioned the need for gamers to be physically fit, get lots of rest, avoid harmful substances, and an excess of anything that could detract from stamina, strengths, and agility. Phyiscal health has been linked to improved neuropsychological functioning in elders (Dustman et al., 1984) so it’s not hard to imagine that a healthy young adult is likely to stay more focused and endure a long bout of gaming better than one who is less physically fit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s no such thing as an unfit professional gamer. In fact, I’m saying the opposite. While I think it is more likely that the more successful pro gamers will be more physically fit, I don’t think it’s a requirement. Of course, sumo wrestlers don’t seem the picture of health either, but what makes someone good at what they do is the directly related training specific to the sport/game. Awareness, meditation, practice, drive… these things most definitely come into play during gaming, but jogging a 5k isn’t probably going to be the make or break factor.

And no, that is not a permission slip to run out and buy a bag of Doritos a 2-liter of Mt. Dew before hunkering down in mom’s basement; we don’t want to return to that stereotype… got it?

References:

Dustman, R., Ruhling, R., Russell, E., Shearer, D., Bonekat, W., Shigeoka, J., … Bradford, D. (1984). Aerobic exercise training improved neuropsychological function of older individuals. Neurobiology of Aging, 5, 35-42. Retrieved from http://jtoomim.org/brain-training/aerobic%20execise%20and%20improved%20neuropsychological%20function%20in%20older%20adults.pdf

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