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  • Audrey Cleo

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    Sit Down and Play.

    Last Friday night, I along with fans and gamers from around the world packed into – and I mean packed – the Staples Center to watch the League of Legends World Championship. While I don’t cover the video game world much anymore, I still can enjoy being immersed in the gamer world, this time appreciating it as a spectator, not a worker bee.

    There’s much discussion lately about whether eSports are, well, actual sports. Is what players do in MOBA gaming akin to the type of mental, and more importantly, physical exertion of athletes at a regular sports event? Barring the discrepancy of actual physical work done between eSports and traditional sports, pro-gamers enjoy sponsorships, earn prize money and are even granted the same types of visas usually afforded to professional athletes for competitions. Teams Royal and SK Telecom (from China and Korea respectively) battled it out at the Worlds in the same stadium where the Lakers regularly battle it out against other teams in the NBA. The circumstantial evidence would suggest, then, yes, eSports ARE sports just with more keyboards. In a special video featuring NFL pro Chris Kluwe that aired during the show, the jock-gamer talked about how the burgeoning culture of eSports lends itself to becoming a mainstream sport.

    But who gets to decide what’s a sport? Maybe it’s the fans. I’m a sports fan (especially of action sports) and also somewhat athletic: I surf, do Pilates and take dance classes regularly. I love going to surf contests and when I can’t go, will stay up into the wee hours watching livestreams of contests while live-texting commentary with a friend like I did last week during the Quiksilver Pro after becoming a little too invested in my Fantasy Surfer team. One of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve ever witnessed in life was watching pro-surfers drop in on 25-foot waves at Sunset Beach during Hawaii’s Triple Crown years ago.

    As a sports fan, there is a type of exhilaration that goes with seeing the pros compete against each other. It’s a feeling that was hardly foreign on the floor of Staples last week.

     

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