Most sports fans will have spent some time playing video games, but when it comes to watching games as a spectator sport, most of us would give it a miss. Despite this, it seems that a growing number of top sports organisations, teams and players are starting to take video games very seriously.
In just the past year we have seen the likes of the Premier League setting up their own competitive gaming tournament and Formula 1 motor racing has successfully implemented its own video gaming competition. Plus with legendary football teams like Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City starting to field their own esports teams, it seems that something is happening to sports’ perceptions of video games.
For a long time, video gaming was treated as a fairly passive affair with many people stating that the activity did little more than promote unhealthy lifestyles. But as broadband technologies came on the scene, competitive gaming has grown to become a billion dollar industry that features competitions that are watched by millions of viewers all over the world. The fact that the viewing figures for a recent League of Legends tournament final managed to eclipse that of the Super Bowl provides a telling lesson about the rapid growth of competitive gaming.
As such it has been fascinating to see how many top sports teams are starting to change their views on video games. Whilst Manchester City are pressing ahead in their bid to pick up another Premier League title, it seems as though the club’s owners are still providing funds for the side to launch a FIFA Online team in China.
Manchester City aren’t the only top football club who are starting to jump on the esports bandwagon. Over the past few years, we have seen many other European sides like Juventus and Barcelona taking an active interest in video gaming.
Many of these teams have kept their interests in football simulators like FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, but Paris Saint Germain have gone so far as to field their own team in competitions for battle arena games like League of Legends. Whilst it might be some time before you see PSG in the odds at esports betting resources like liveesportsbetting.com, it’s still a remarkable turnaround in the perceptions of sports clubs to esports.
In fact, all over the world, sport’s governing bodies are seeking a much closer relationship with esports. From the likes of the NBA allowing their basketball teams to feature in the NBA2K tournaments to the success of the Formula One Esports Series, it seems that sporting organisations are using competitive gaming as a way of tapping into the younger demographic.
Such an idea hasn’t been lost amongst many of the large companies who had previously ploughed large amounts of money into sponsoring sports tournaments, but are now aiming to focus on the rapidly growing esports market. Just last year we saw McDonalds making the shock move to stop sponsoring the German football league, and instead sponsor a competitive gaming tournament.
However, it’s worth remembering that esports still has a few barriers to overcome before it gains full admittance to the sporting world. In particular, it’s the Olympic Games’ governing committee that has been most vocal in relation to what it sees as the antisocial behaviour and violent behaviour that is commonly associated with video games.
Whilst there had been hopes that esports could be featured as a demonstration sport at the Paris Olympics in 2024, it seems that it has yet to find favour with the governing bodies. However, this winter will see the Southeast Asian Games feature video games as a medal sport for the very first time, and it seems as though the tide may be slowly turning. As a result, it looks like the relationship between traditional sports and video games is going to get much closer in the future.