Esports is Gaining Olympic Respect!

Jeff Thinnes
CEO, SummaForte

Recently the International Olympic Committee announced that they will integrate esports into the 2024 Olympics in Paris. This generated some trash talking, mostly from people who have not played esports -- probably the children of parents who a generation ago said golf was not a sport.  Many of them believe that to qualify as a sport you need visible physical exertion - moving your arms and/or legs at a fast pace trying to score or cross a goal before others. But what about Olympic sports like archery?  Curling? Shooting? Ask those doubters to try to maintain focus and accuracy over several hours while clicking up to 500 times per minute to execute complex offensive and defensive maneuvers. Good luck mustering up the physical and mental stamina required to excel at that! 

It was recently announced that competitive video gaming will be a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games taking place in China. And the International Olympic Committee has approved "virtual and connected" events that will run prior to and alongside the 2024 Paris Olympics.  Individual sports would offer online competitionsmaybe even having “gamers” play against the traditional Olympians. Sailing has already proposed a version of its sailing contests to take place online. And it’s expected that other major sports organizations like the National Basketball Association and the English Premier League - who already partner with eSports leagues - will structure formal relationships for the 2024 Games.   

As a key constituent of the $160 billion gaming industry, esports players and fans have caught the attention of corporate sponsors.  And this has not gone unnoticed by global organizations like the IOC, FIFA, and others that govern traditional sports. These governing bodies have recognized the need to connect with a new generation of online athletes to both serve their interests and to benefit from their attraction for major corporate sponsors.     

For now, online games that are primarily violent in nature will not be featured in the Olympics.  The IOC’s position is that those are not compatible with Olympic values.  Hmmm.  We’ll need to keep our eye on that one as the number of players grows by millions each year, and corporate sponsorship perhaps by billions. 

SummaForte is here to help you play hard, play healthy, and play like an Olympian!