Absurd Athletics

    The massive, intriguing world of esports

    Nick Porisch

    More stories from Nick Porisch

    The Highlight Reel
    May 10, 2023

    Photo by SUBMITTED

    Gamers in their gamer arena.

    Two words — electronic sports. Combine them together, and what do you get? One word — esports.

    The world of esports is as sprawling and diverse as that of p-sports, which is a term I just coined in reference to physical sports. I don’t care if it’s confusing, you don’t get opportunities to coin terms in this business often.

    Esports is home to many subcategories, from speedrunning to high score achievements to first-person shooters and fighting games. There’s an option for any e-athlete out there who thinks they have the skills to make it big.

    Because of its expansive nature, it would be a disservice to try to sum up the entire scope of esports in a single article. That would be like writing an Absurd Athletics piece that was just titled “Sports.”

    Instead, this article is going to be more of an introduction to the topic of esports. 

    Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a deeper dive into this interesting and often absurd world, and how this humble subculture of gaming has grown into a billion dollar industry with prize pools as high as 40 million dollars.

    Now, reader, you may be asking, what? If there’s no major physical activity or element of physical fitness, how is this so-called sport even considered such a thing?

    To which I say, stop yelling at me.

    Also, let me explain.

    To begin with, much like capitalism and liberal arts degrees, the idea of a “sport” is a social construct.

    Arguably, every aspect of society can be called a social construct and therefore the label doesn’t really negate value, but the point is that “sports” is a loose, malleable term. 

    There’s no hard and fast definition, with some dictionaries explicitly including “physical activity” while others only define sports as something akin to recreation or activity requiring some level of skill.

    In other words, if someone believes esports should not fall under the category of sports, that’s on them, and this column will take no responsibility for their close-mindedness.

    So, what are esports, anyways?

    Esports is the playing of video games in an organized, competitive environment, according to the Harvard International Review.

    Think of it this way. A quick round of the popular esports game Rocket League is the equivalent of a pick-up basketball game. Competing in ranked matches is like playing in a club or high-school league.

    Competing in the Rocket League Championship Series, which has a prize pool of over six million dollars, is like playing in the NBA.

    Top e-athletes regularly pull in seven-figure salaries, and popular tournaments like the League of Legends World Championship can draw over 80 million viewers.

    For context, the 2021 Super Bowl pulled 96.4 million, just 16.4 more than the esports championship.

    So, it’s clear that the world of esports is massive, even if it seems relatively unknown to many casual media consumers in the United States.

    However, this is “Absurd Athletics.” We’re not here to talk about things that are massive. We’re here to talk about things that are weird, strange, and outright bizarre.

    Well, I promise that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the world of esports, and things are about to get very, very absurd.

    Porisch can be reached at [email protected].