Is Esports a Sport?

is esports a sport
Kevin Larsen
Kevin Larsen, Chief Editor

The rising popularity of esports is prompting many to redefine it as a sport. But it’s hard to think of an athlete as someone who sits behind a screen playing games all day. Stereotypically, the first image of an athlete that comes to mind is a physically fit person with athletic skills.

This has left esports in the balance as many people decide whether or not to call it a sport. In this post, we’ll find out if esports fits the bill by defining a sport.

Skip to Section

Does Esports Qualify as a Sport?

Yes! Esports is a “real” sport. It‘s a competitive game played by athletes skilled in gaming who play according to rules in tournaments as a job.

Esports has its own competition ecosystem, paid athletes, coaches, health personnel, filled arenas, and massive revenue generation. These features make it hard to cancel esports from the sports category.

What Is a Sport?

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a sport is “a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment or as a job.”

This definition sells esports as a sport. Yet, the measure of physical effort for every sport varies. For instance, basketball players exert more physical effort in a game than golf players, but it doesn’t change that there’s physical effort in golf.

By Cambridge’s definition, a sport has to be entertaining, and esports have filled whole arenas worldwide with their enthusiasts. It’s hard to ignore the close to 480 million fans who tune in to watch the best gamers play their favorite games.

Components of a Sport

There are specific components every activity needs to be considered a sport, including:

  • Physical activity
  • Organized participation
  • Competitiveness
  • Improvement in physical and mental fitness
  • Formation of social relationships


Esports checks all these boxes, from physical effort to social relations. Does that make it a sport, then?

What Do Sports Authorities Have to Say?

In an interview conducted by The Aspen Institute, Sports Innovation Lab CEO and four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero said that esports will become an Olympic competition.

Ruggiero stated that “People huddle around a TV and they watch football, and don’t participate, they just love watching. Kids might do the same thing with esports. You can’t deny the numbers.”

Michelle McKenna, National Football League Cio, also backed eSport as a real sport, explaining that esports is rooted in competition and requires rigorous athletic and mental strength and long hours of practice.

The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) accepted chess, draughts, and bridges as sport, and these activities require little physical effort. This implies that not all sports require physical effort; hence we can consider eSports a sport as well.

Final Verdict

eSports qualifies as a sport by definition since it’s a game of little physical effort played according to rules for enjoyment and work.