Zap exemptions for button pushersIs chess the biggest contact sport that you have ever played?
Was your latest workout lifting the remote control?
It’s safe to say that these minimal fat-burning activities hardly fall into the sports genre, even though billions participate.
Then there is e-sports ― or, in other words, computer gaming.
In one of the most wired countries on Earth, computer gaming has taken on a new meaning. There are “professional gamers” who play for a living. Then you have the World Cyber Games, the pinnacle of the game world. Just like in the Olympics, gamers from around the world battle for medals.
Professional gamers are the stars here.
They command their own fan clubs. They star in commercials like others in the entertainment industry, make a truckload of money and get this: they also want special treatment when it comes to military service.
The most recent case is a kid named Lim Yo-hwan, a famous gamer who made his name by playing “Starcraft.” Lim asked for an exemption, but instead he was selected as a soldier for the Air Force working as a computer specialist.
The Air Force has said it will look into his case and try to get him as much practice time as possible so he can maintain his edge. So, I gather, Lim will get time to do some finger stretching, as well as hand-and-eye coordination exercises, because those are the most important factors in becoming a good gamer. It’s all good and well, but this should not come during his military service because “e-sports” is not a sport, much less an activity that deserves special treatment.
Here is why:
First, computer gaming at the most will give you a cramp in your thumb and maybe some red eyes, but there is no direct interaction between people. I don’t agree with people who argue that sports are not primarily about the physical aspect.
These are the math olympics. You can create your own league, but computer gaming is not a sport. Unless in the future virtual reality technology allows gamers to transfer their actions on the field to a computer, I don’t see this fact changing.
Then there is the question of mass appeal. Here, not having a computer is not a big deal. There are so many PC cafes that hooking up to a computer is easy, but I still think a sport has to appeal to the masses. That includes everyone around the world, not just Korea.
There is a reason soccer is the most popular sport on Earth. Kids in underdeveloped countries can play soccer by simply kicking cans. These kids kick cans, but dream of becoming Ronaldo one day. For some kid living in the poorest corner of the Earth, getting access to a computer would be a dream come true.
Also, one reason distinguished athletes here are given a way out of their mandatory military service is because the time that an athlete has to make a living is limited to the time his body is in peak physical shape. That doesn’t apply to computer gamers. The only limit put upon computer gaming is self-interest.
If we grant computer gamers a free ticket out of the service, who knows what will come next? So for all those hopeful computer gamers out there I only have to say this: Be ready to serve your country. Your country needs you to push buttons.
by Brain Lee
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