With the Winter Olympics just around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring this little issue up. During the Summer Games is Beijing, there was supposed to be a small demonstration video game tournament as part of the opening ceremonies. These plans were latter scrapped, but the doesn’t mean that Ted Owen, CEO of the Global Gaming League, has any plans on giving up in his quest to see gamers eligible for Gold Medals at the games.
Before I really get into this, a quick history lesson. The Olympic Games started in Ancient Greece. No one truly knows when or why, all we have are myths and legends. What we do know is that they were held mainly to honor the Greek gods, but were eventually disbanded as Rome gained power and influence in Greece. The games ended around 393AD, until 1896 when the IOC, The International Olympics Committee, hosted the first modern Olympic Games in Athens. Since then, there have been a few mainstay events, but a number of other events have been contested, eliminated, or only appeared as demonstrations. Such events consist of sky diving, Surfing, Polo, Tug of War, and more recently Baseball and Softball. Golf and Rugby will be allowed back into the games in 2016. Before anyone says anything, I think Golf has no place in the Olympics either.
Currently, the IOC recognizes 34 sports, yet will only hold contests for 28 of them in 2016. Ted Owen would like Gaming to be recognized as one of those sports, and even appear during the Olympic Games.
Now, I have no issue with gaming being seen as a sport. I would love that. It would bring a new level of legitimacy to our hobby. Hell, we’ve had professional tournaments for video games since Street Fighter II in the arcade and Nintendo’s now defunct Championship (you know what I’m talking about, the tournament in that Fred Savage movie, The Wizard). After all, if the IOC wants to recognize Bridge, which I don’t play, and Chess, which I love to play, then gaming has every right to be there as well. In fact, it seems the IOC agrees since they were happy to welcome gaming into the Summer Olympic Games. That being said, I’m not too keen on the idea that gamers deserve the right to get a Gold Medal for camping head shots in Counterstrike.
The Olympics are traditionally for athletes, people who’s mind and body’s are at prime condition. I understand that in order to be a top professional gamer, you need quick hand-eye reflex and mental agility, but that is not what I would call athletic prowess. I respect professional gamers, but playing Halo, Counterstrike, or Madden is not the mental/physical equivalent to competing in the decathlon or gymnastics.
Gaming does deserve its place in sports, but not all sports deserve a place in the Olympics. This is just not a battle that we should be fought, much less won.