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Esport or Esports, Which Word Do I Use?

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By Dr. Vandy Pacetti-Donelson |

Here I sit at my desk drafting a Call for Papers for The Sport Journal and the topic of interest is Esports Management… or is it Esport Management? Here we are again revisiting the idea of how to use a word because when we are studying and describing human behavior, words matter.  The last time we visited Esports, we were discussing exactly how to spell the word, as in:

  • What should be capitalized,… Esport, or eSport?
  • Should there be a hyphen,… esport, or e-sport?

In 1999, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) began documenting the use of the word e-sport.

Notice the different spellings in their documentation.  You see that is how the study of words, which is called etymology, works.  Uses of the word are collected from any textual instances, and at some point usage stabilizes to a point where common reference sources like the OED will create an entry for the dictionary that most people who use the English language consult as the most reliable source on word usage. 

Despite the OED’s etymological work on the word e-sports, the Associated Press stabilized the spelling of the word when it released its style guide in 2017 at the American Copy Editors Society Convention in St. Petersburg, FL. The AP indicated for the AP Style Guide, the correct spelling is “esports” due to “industry trends and general usage” and capitalized as “Esports” if used at the beginning of a sentence.  The decision was based on Google Trends results that indicated people searched more often for esports without a hyphen or capital letters.

So, here we are again, back to a new question that relies on etymological study.  Is it esport, singular, or esports, plural; and what does that mean?  In order to draft our call for papers, we had to make some conclusions about the use of the word. At the risk of acting as an amateur etymologist, and solely for the purposes of our esports management call for papers, here are the conclusions about the usage of the word esport/esports:

NOUN

  1. Esports (countable)– def. a multiplayer electronic or video game competition purpose-built and organized as a spectator sport involving professional players and watched by viewers online that have a professionalized culture; a kind of institution encompassing everything from fans, to teams, to leagues, etc.

EXA. Tom is a professional gamer in Esports.

  • Esport (Countable)—def. describing a number of individual games.

EXA. (singular) League of Legends is an esport.

EXA. (plural) Overwatch, Call of Duty, and Fortnite are esports.

  • Esport (Uncountable)—def. from the academic perspective, the overall domain, paradigm, culture, or of an environment.  Usage is similar to “theatre” or “cinema”.

EXA. “The effect of gender bias in esport”

EXA. “In Esport, research has been made to consider…”

ADJECTIVE

  • Esports (collective)—def.  of the domain, paradigm, institution, or culture.

EXA.  Esports stadium

EXA. Esports tournament

EXA. Esports writer

EXA. Esports Management

ASSOCIATED TERMS:

  • Esports Management—def. the field of business that focuses directly on esports—its players, teams, leagues, institutions, environment, and culture. Many different subjects are incorporated into esports management such as administration, leadership, finance, governance, law, and ethics.
  • Gamer—def. the common term within the culture of esports that is associated with the athlete or player of esports.  NOTE:  Not all videogames can be esports, and therefore, not all gamers are interested in esports.

Now, that we have demonstrated the use of terminology surrounding esport/esports, it is time to go back to reviewing submissions.  We hope to receive your submission to The Sport Journal soon.

Dr. Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Library and Instructional Design at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Ala.

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