United States Sports Academy Director of Sports Management Dr. Brandon Spradley has reviewed a chapter evaluating the possibility of eSports being integrated into the Olympics that is part of an upcoming book that touches on ethics, law and trends in the sports industry.
Spradley reviewed a chapter on the development of eSports – also known as competitive video gaming – for the book “Law, Ethics and Integrity in the Sports Industry,” currently under development by Hershey, Pa., based publisher IGI Global, a leading international academic publisher of reference books, journals, encyclopedias, teaching cases and more. Spradley reviewed the chapter called “ESports at the Olympic Games: From Physicality to Virtuality.”
Spradley is sought for his expertise on eSports and recently was featured internationally on Learning English, Voice of America’s multimedia source of news and information for English learners worldwide. He has conducted scholarly research on the growth of eSports, including co-authoring a piece on the subject for The Sport Journal, the Academy’s peer-reviewed online journal of sports. The piece can be read here: http://thesportjournal.org/article/recognizing-esports-as-a-sport/.
“The book chapter I reviewed provides an examination of the impact of including eSports in the Olympics and whether that impact is perceived as positive or negative in regards to the sports profession,” Spradley said. “In a way, it addresses one of the main questions about eSports: Should eSports be considered a sport?”
ESports include any video game that can be played by multiple people – sports games, war games, fighting games, etc. – in a competitive, tournament-style setting. Some of the popular sports games played in eSports tournaments are the Madden series of NFL games and the NBA 2K series. The tournaments have become highly popular among players and viewers around the world.
While eSports are not currently included in the Olympic program, competitive gaming enthusiasts have pushed for their inclusion in international competition.
The Intel Corporation and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are currently partnering to develop a major competitive gaming exhibition and competition in PyeongChang as part of the lead-up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Intel will deliver two distinct gaming experiences to South Korea: the Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang eSports tournament, featuring one of the most celebrated eSports titles of all time, Blizzard Entertainment’s “StarCraft II,” and a separate exhibition featuring Ubisoft’s action-sports title “Steep Road to the Olympics,” the official licensed game of the Olympic Winter Games.
The Intel Extreme Masters PyeongChang tournament is open to any player, at any level, via global online qualifiers, with the winner moving on to compete in PyeongChang. Fans around the world will be able follow the action and watch the competition unfold on the Olympic Channel global digital platform, as well as additional broadcast and digital partners to be announced in the near future.
Intel will also deliver interactive gaming experiences throughout the Olympic Village for attendees and athletes.
Timo Lumme, managing director of IOC television and marketing services, said, “We are proud to have our worldwide partner Intel bring this competition to PyeongChang in the lead-up to the Olympic Winter Games 2018. The IOC will now explore eSports’ relationship with the Olympic Movement further. This is just the start of an exciting future and we’re interested to see how this experience will play out.”
Spradley says that the momentum of eSports seems to be here to stay.
“My opinion is that eSports will continue to gain popularity among the young adult population regardless of whether it is perceived as a sport or not,” Spradley said.
“I believe eSports is a topic that is worth studying in the sports profession, although I do not view it in the same manner that I do traditional sports.”
A former track and field athlete at the University of Alabama, Spradley said he is personally “on the fence” about calling eSports a true sport. But as an academic, he said he finds rise of eSports fascinating. He takes an objective and academic view of the subject.
“Being a former collegiate track and field athlete, I understand the importance and use of the human body in sport, which has always been one of the primary focuses in the Olympic Games,” Spradley said. “eSports competitors put in hours of practice and must be mentally and strategically prepared for competitions just as any other sport, but in eSports, the focus is not so much on the human body but more on the virtual screen and how players interact with a machine. The physical activity is not the same when comparing eSports to traditional sports. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see the progression of eSports in the sports profession.”
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports.
The Academy is based in Daphne, Ala. For more information, call (251) 626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.
By Eric Mann
Eric Mann is the communications assistant at the United States Sports Academy.