In order for the Olympics to stay competitive and be attractive to younger viewers, it may have to include esports. It might be the only way for the Olympics to maintain relevance in these electronic times. The question is no longer if esports will become part of the Olympics; it’s when. A study conducted by Newzoo states that 76% of esports viewers are choosing to watch esports competitions over watching traditional sporting events.
In order for esports to be recognized by the Olympics, there are certain criteria that need to be met:
The first is that the “sport” needs to have an international federation that is accepted by the International Olympic Committee, or the IOC. Esports has, in fact, had one for over 10 years. The International eSports Federation is the governing body for esports and was founded in 2008. In that regard esports is halfway there; it just needs to be recognized and accepted by the IOC.
Another important criterion is that a sport must have men widely practicing it in 75 different countries across four continents and/or women practicing in 40 countries on three continents. This standard has been established for some time in esports with about men and women in 150 countries on six continents participating.
The last prerequisite is that esports is classified as a sport. A sport is defined as a physical activity that requires skills or physical prowess and is often of a competitive nature. Skills and competitive nature are obvious attributes for esports, though its physicality is questionable.
The viewership of esports alone should make the IOC heavily consider adding it to the roster of sports. During the 2016 Olympics, NBC had about 27 million viewers during the event. That same year the 2016 League of Legends World Championships had around 43 million viewers.
In many respects, esports already do meet the standards that the Olympics holds and have not stopped growing since the industry began. To many people – especially in the younger generations – esports competitions have surpassed the Olympics. Why should esports fans worry about what the IOC considers a sport when esports dominates the market and towers over many sports in terms of fans, and viewership?