According to Reinhard Grindel, the President of Germany’s Football Association (DFB), Esports is not a sports activity thus the induction of competitive gaming into the Olympics is bizarrely absurd. This was on Sunday 4th March 2018 when the members of Germany’s social democratic party opened the way for joining the country’s government as a junior partner in a grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel. This new development came with more certainty that Esports could soon be recognized as sports in accordance with guidelines set out by the coalition governments.
As it stands, Esports has amassed over 250 million players from all around the globe which makes for a steadily growing market that currently rakes in more than a billion dollars every year. This is more than what a decent number of traditional Olympic sports federation can manage, even when combined. However, despite the heavy lobbying that was required to have Esports acknowledged as real sports as well as increasing amount of support that it has been amassing, there are many critical opposing voices that are still not convinced. Thus, apparently, the debate about whether Esports should be considered as “real sports” is not even close to coming to an end.
“The biggest competition to kids coming to our sports club is not handball or basketball, but the use of digital equipment. That is absolute impoverishment,” Grindel said, as reported by Reuters. “Sport plays a social function and this happens in the community. With sport, you have direct contact with those you play. Soccer is home to the green turf and has nothing to do with other, computer generated things. For me, Esports is not sports.”
Furthermore, the Grindel pointed out that he his opinion on the increasing amount that children and young adults spent on mobile devices to be “eine absolute Verarmung,” which can roughly be translated to “a total degeneration.”
There are, obviously, underlying interests on both sides of these debates and this makes it more complex than what people think is happening on the surface. Esports is inherently a for-profit industry and this is especially true for the industry players that have been backing it. The people on the opposing side, like Grendel, are also fighting to protect their market shares. Unfortunately, Esports is catching up quite quickly.
In November 2017, the International Olympic Committee would only consider having Esports as a component of the Olympics if Esports did not “infringe on the Olympic values.” This means that Esports games that feature explosions, violence and killing had to be ruled out.