Although they’ve been around for much longer, esports have become incredibly popular in the last decade or so. Depending on which study you look at, there are between 500 million and 1 billion people who watch these video game competitions at least occasionally, with about 50% accounting for “enthusiasts” who are passionate about the format.

But despite this popularity, many critics of esports lament the fact that they are often referred to as “sports”. Are these people being unfair or do they have a point?

What Counts as a Sport?


The dictionary definition of “sport” is an activity where a team or individual will use “physical exertion and skill” to compete against others.

At a cursory glance, it would seem that esports tick most of these boxes. They are competitions that pit individual players or teams against each other, requiring them to use skill to gain an advantage over their rivals.

Some people would argue that esports don’t require physical exertion, therefore, they don’t meet this definition. However, esports athletes do spend a lot of time training physically to build up their core muscles and reaction times to ensure they’re in peak physical condition to take the strains of sitting for long periods of time and repeatedly making small movements.


We can look beyond this simple dictionary definition, though. One key area to consider is sports betting. There are many similarities between the way sportsbooks offer odds on both physical and esports.

Fans who want to bet on games like League of Legends and Dota 2 can use comparison sites like OddsChecker to find free bet offers to use on these esports, just like fans of football or basketball can.

The types of wager available for esports are often the same as in physical sports, with mixes of moneylines and prop bets on individual games as well as futures on overall tournaments and leagues.


Spectators are another important part of sport, and the models used by esports tournaments and physical sports leagues are very similar.

Both sell broadcast rights for their events to television companies so that they can air games live. Both also allow spectators to watch games live in person at stadiums and arenas.

While the broadcasting of esports events originally began online, you can now find games on television channels like the UK’s BBC and on several dedicated sports broadcasters in both the US and Europe.

So, yes, esports are definitely sports. While they may not be the most physically demanding of competitions, they do still pose a physical challenge to players, while paralleling traditional sports in almost every other way.