The Esports Olympics: Feat or Flop?
The Olympics’ announcement about adding Esports to their competitive scene this summer has left many uneasy.
Simply put, Esports is a multi-billion dollar video gaming industry where professional players and their teams compete against other teams. Popular video games that are played in the industry include Rocket League, Valorant, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and many more. However, video games that not many have heard of will be played in the Esports Olympics. These games include Tic Tac Bow, WBSC eBASEBALL: POWER PROS, Chess.com, Zwift, Just Dance, Gran Turismo, Virtual Regatta, Tennis Clash, and Virtual Taekwondo. When introduced to the games being played in the Esports Olympics, EHHS math teacher and wrestling coach, Mr. Louis Rivellini was very surprised because he didn’t recognize many of them. He expected that the games would be ones that are popular within the Esports industry. Sophomore and current Esports club member Evan Martinez says he’s also not familiar with many of these games and thinks many of them are weird: “They just sound so like weird for Esports. I know it’s like based on the regular Olympics, but at the same time, it does not sound very good.” Evan continues to say that these games don’t sound competitive.
Staff and students around EHHS agree this is a controversial issue. EHHS Principal and former basketball coach, Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, thinks that it’s cool and mentions how many colleges in the northeast are offering scholarships for Esports. He continues: “If you could get a scholarship to attend something, then you should be able to compete at the highest level against people across the world.” Mr. DeNuzzo believes that Esports players should be given the same opportunity as athletes. He believes that this provides a new opportunity for students to be recognized for not just athletic capabilities. Since the Olympics is a worldwide competition, it allows people who have different talents and abilities to show their skills to the world. As with Mr. DeNuzzo, Cherese Miller-Odukwe, the Director of Student Activities at the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), agrees that it’s beneficial for college-bound students and students who have skills other than athletic abilities: “With more colleges offering Esports as a major and/or activity, and more high schools offering Esports teams, I think that considering Esports for the Olympics is a great idea. Esports helps to include your non-traditional sports athletes.” EHHS Social Studies teacher and Esports club advisor, Mr. Adam Gardner, agrees: “I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor, this idea that they’re going to expand their offerings just because, you know, especially it being the 21st century, they can be more inclusive. You don’t necessarily have to be physical to be competitive.”
Sophomore Willow Torres also believes that the idea is cool because it’s inclusive of newer technology. Since the world has evolved greatly since the start of the Olympics, Willow thinks that it’s great to see the Olympics recognize this advancement.
Mr. Gardner mentioned how the Olympics most likely didn’t want to add a traditional Esports game, such as CS:GO, because they want to ease their audience into a new competitive space. Sophomore Nicolas Johnson likes the idea of chess in the Esports Olympics and also sees the thinking skill needed while competing. He believes that the thinking aspect is competitive because it brings a whole new level of competition.
Others, like Mr. Rivellini believe that although it’s cool to see that people are being recognized for their video game skills, the Olympics should remain a strictly athletic competition. Mr. Rivellini suggests that “maybe there could be a separate non-athletic olympics for things like chess, e-sports, board games.” Ms. Miller-Odukwe has a similar take, saying that adding Esports is right if other competitions like robotics or debate are added. Being familiar with the traditional video games played in Esports, Evan is quite surprised with the games being played in the Esports Olympics. He believes it’s terrible for the industry itself because most of these games are unknown to many. Evan also mentions how the games in the Esports Olympics are not representative of the Esports industry itself, and doubts that “any Esports industry would ever choose those games”. Mr. Rivellini continued to say that the Olympics should choose games that are “Free and Open Source games”, or games that aren’t owned and produced by large companies. In general, Mr. Rivellini thinks that the Olympics’ idea is cool, but the execution of it won’t be successful. He believes that it’s interesting to see a whole new competitive population being recognized, but feels that the way the Olympics went about recognizing this population won’t be the greatest.
Sophomore Arianna Temple greatly differs on this issue: “I think it’s dumb and useless because it’s not a literal sport that you go to practice for and train for. You just sit there and play the game.” Arianna points out the significance of physical ability in competition, and how it greatly differs from Esports. She believes that physical abilities are what make the Olympics competitive. Sophomore Billy Demetriades agrees with this, saying, “The Olympics is normally when very good, strong, and brave athletes compete with each other for a gold medal, and video games are not in there at all.” Junior Sherry Ragone, a gamer herself, believes that Esports shouldn’t be a part of the Olympics due to the lack of physical competitiveness: “There is no physical competitive aspect. People train for these amazing competitions all year long and work themselves to their limit, while others in Esports would just sit and play a game.” Sherry is supportive of the Esports industry itself, but doesn’t think that the games in the Esports Olympics are competitive: “These games are not competitive in the slightest and don’t deserve to be considered a competition.” An even stronger take was given by sophomore Gianni Vidal, as he says that the Esports Olympics is “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard”, and believes that the video games in this competition are “almost laughable”. Sophomore Tiffany Iaquinto believes that although this would allow a wider range of people to participate, it shouldn’t be included in the Olympics. Many students at EHHS seem to believe that the Olympics should stick to its traditional competitions, rather than exploring new ones. Because Esports is very different from your traditional sports, this new adjustment has left many alarmed.
With this being said, it’s clear that the Esports Olympics is a controversial topic amongst students and staff at EHHS. There are many in support of it, while others are highly against it. In general, the Olympics’ implementation of Esports into their competitive scene was definitely not viewed by the public as expected. The Olympic Esports week will take place from June 22-25, 2023 in Singapore. The qualification rounds for each video game started on March 1st, which will eventually narrow down into the final rounds.