Point/Counterpoint: Watching video games is the same as watching sports


Alec Behrendt and Ben Hoey

“You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s a beautiful day outside, the sky is blue, and you’re inside watching OTHER PEOPLE PLAY VIDEO GAMES?!?!”

  Mom was super upset. She found me watching one of my favorite YouTubers play Fortnite with his friends. However, I countered with the fact that Dad just spent three hours watching the March Madness tournament. “It’s a totally different thing. Watching sports is way different than watching video games!” Mom said.



  Mom was right. Watching competitive video games is not the same as watching sports. Just because there are some people competing does not mean it is the same as watching a sport. What constitutes a sport is physical competition, which is different than video games. There are obvious differences between the two, but watching them is also vastly different.


  The production value of sports is better than that of video games, because sports are more popular. For example, a pro football game on CBS will likely receive much more funding than a world CS:GO championship on TBS, so the quality of the pro football game would be different. So, often, athletes are portrayed in high definition and video game characters are shown in lower quality. Whether you find sports or video games more entertaining, it’s obvious that sports networks receive much more funding than video gaming streaming networks. A lot of amateur video game players stream their gameplay, which is what a lot of people watch. This is good videography, but it is nothing like how sports are streamed.


  Also, an aspect of watching sports or video games is having a favorite team/player to watch. Sure, people who prefer to watch video games can have a certain player that they follow, but it is not the same as rooting for a professional sports team. As a fan of a major sports team, you are able to buy merchandise, go to games, wear apparel, and partake in rivalries with friends and family. The market for sports merchandise is definitely bigger, with brands that are generally more popular than those that produce video game jerseys. For video games, there is merchandise, but coming across it is not as easy as coming across a jersey for sports. For example, if you walk into Walmart, you can usually find some Michigan gear, whereas for video game teams, it’s not something you often see. Also, the rivalries within sports are of a much larger scale than those of video games. There a few known video game rivalries, such as FaZe and OpTic, but it is not on the same scale as Ohio State vs Michigan. Plus, people generally don’t trash talk with friends over video games. As children, many people grow up as Lions fans or Tigers fans, but not many people grow up as FaZe fans, because there is a history of sports that doesn’t exist with video game leagues. Watching video games is relatively new, so there isn’t much of a history.


  Sport leagues are more complicated than video game championships/leagues, which is a major difference in watching the two competitions. A person who is invested in watching either video games or sports will watch championships or leagues all the way through, so the format is important. For every major American sport there is a basic organization: all teams participate in a regular season, in which they play against every other team in their league. Then, the best teams at the end of the season are invited to play in a playoff or championship, where a winner is crowned. However, in video games, players or teams that are created by the players and qualify to join the league are automatically entered into the playoffs, and they then all participate in the playoff or championship. Also, there are college level teams for each sport, and college organizations are connected to professional sport organizations. For example, in football, basketball, hockey, and baseball, the vast majority of players on professional teams were drafted from college teams. In general, video game players form teams on their own, and apply to compete in a championship. Neither system is inarguably superior, but watching the two is quite different.



  Mom was wrong. Watching sports is the same as watching video games. These two activities draw parallels to each other. A spectator, or spectators, watch as the featured contestant enters into a competition and battles for glory, recognition, and ultimate victory.


  Just like watching sports, watching gaming can come in varying fashions. Watching the highlight reel from last night’s big NBA game between the Rockets and the Raptors is no different than watching a funny moments compilation of a game of Prop Hunt on Garry’s Mod. In their own respects, each activity involves viewing standout moments that were put together to entertain the viewer. A livestream on Twitch of a person grinding out a brand new Assassin’s Creed is similar to watching a hockey game. Finally, the live Call of Duty championships are a gamer’s version of the Super Bowl.


  Video game fans enjoy watching their favorite gamers in the same way that sports fans love to watch their favorite players. Watching both sports and video games means there is someone you are supporting. Some kids grow up not by idolizing sports phenoms like Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo or Warriors small forward Kevin Durant; instead, they dream of becoming a gaming sensation like YouTuber Evan Fong, A.K.A. VanossGaming, or Counter Strike legend Christopher Alesund, who goes by the gamertag GeT_RiGhT. These guys are the best at what they do, like the pro athletes, and earn the admiration of millions of worldwide fans.

 In both sports and gaming, watching something incredible creates a desire to be just as good as the pros. For example, if young people see LeBron James dunk, they immediately want to be more like him. They go out and try so hard to do it, but they can’t. Not yet. Hours are spent shooting, dribbling, and practicing, transforming their understanding of the game as well as improving their skill.The same can be said for people watching gamers. If one were to witness a pro gamer defeat his opponent in a League of Legends match, that makes them say to themselves “Hey, I want to be good enough to dominate my opponents like that.” So, this person begins to invest time and plays the game a lot more. Growing familiarity with the game helps progress this player’s general skill. In time, a relative noob is a world class League master.