The pros will tell you this is real sportArnold Schwarzenegger will not save humanity from the machines for a while. But we are not sweating. There are others who will. For example, on Tuesday, in high drama, Russia’s Garry Kasparov was the hero when he played to a 2-2 draw against supercomputer X3D Fritz in their final meeting of a four-game chess match. Fritz can calculate millions of potential moves in a split second.
Although chess involves no running, jumping or body contact, it is considered a sport, a mental contest, if you would.
Serious athletes like curlers might protest but when people were playing with stones on the ice ages ago nobody really thought of it as a sport. Football players who dismiss anything short of the contact that causes broken bones might snort at all this talk.
The times are changing. Webster’s New World Dictionary states it loud and clear when it defines sport as “any activity or experience that gives enjoyment or recreation.”
Applying to this definition the nearly unlimited number of activities one can enjoy, we can call just about anything a sport. Or so it seems.
Doing a story on pro-gamers, people who play computer games for a living, I was surprised at how many people in that industry considered themselves sports enthusiasts.
When asked about this, an official at the Korea Pro Game Association seemed irritated. “Look at our Web site address,” he said. “It reads e-sport.org.kr.”
Guillaume Patry, a ranked French-Canadian pro-gamer who I spoke with, endorses this belief. He is not alone.
“There are the Olympic Games,” says a Korean progamer patiently. “And then you have the World Cyber Games.”
This industry is got the same stuff found in today’s calorie-burning sports world. You have players, agents, teams and fans. Did I mention an ESPN-type channel that broadcasts game tournaments 24-7?
Chess and Go players will protest when they hear that computer games have been elevated to the ranks of mental athletics. But when you have hundreds of game-playing strategy guides being printed like nightclub flyers, it is hard to disagree.
You think hand-eye coordination is solely the province of major leaguers and top-flight tennis stars? Think again. Go ask a pro-gamer. He will tell you that the speed of his hands will make or break his career. How else could you defeat an alien race trying to destroy your civilization? It is also one of the reasons you cannot find many pro-gamer over the age of 25.
You think marathoners need endurance? They run for just over 120 minutes. Pro-gamers spend on average 10 hours sitting in a chair. Now that is endurance.
You think this is a sport without risks? Ask any doctor what happens when you gulp down Coke and junk food nonstop, while showered by a monitor’s radiation. Restricted range of movement takes a toll when your whole radius of activity does not exceed the length of your arm.
It should be clear.
Never before in history has one activity surged in popularity so fast. While TV has brought sports to every corner of the world, the Internet has done the same for gaming but in a much different manner. As strange as it might sound, this is the stuff of sport.
by Brian Lee
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