The E-lympics

I’m not sure Usain Bolt, the “Fastest Man Alive,” holds his controller like that.

So, Kotaku posted this and the writer really spent a lot of time putting this article together about making a case for video games being in the Olympic games. It is an admirable effort and I applaud Kotaku’s writer for really trying to do so much work, but no. I’m sorry, no. No no no.

Now, I love video games and I’m extremely ecstatic that e-sports are a thing now and are so popular the world over. That’s brilliant and I’m happy. I really am. But as an athlete as well, having played basketball since I was six years old and then track and field until freshman year of college, I can say that the idea of a video game being an Olympic sport is just silly.

This is not to say that video games aren’t trying and aren’t competitive and that they don’t show a large demographic from every country. That is totally true, I’m a gaming journalist and I know this. But, by saying this I am also saying that there are some sports in the Olympics that don’t belong there as well and I have a hard time seeing those just as much as I do seeing video games there. But, going back to the Olympics at their core: running, jumping, throwing, wrestling and fighting. They’re all physical tests of will and strength and athleticism. While some Olympic sports now toe the line on athleticism, others can have cases made for them.

To argue the point I’ll look at Kotaku’s points. “If shooting is a sport…” First off, anyone who has ever fired a gun in their life can tell you that holding a twelve-pound-plus firearm, aiming down the sight, bracing for the recoil and then cracking off the round is a physical and mental effort just as much as archery. Top marksmen spend their lives working hard at being able to hit targets that are being affected by the elements and working against a weapon that can also be inaccurate if the chamber and rifling inside the barrel is dirty.

Stephen Totilo, the writer of the article says, “while they may not involve running fast, jumping high, or even that much sweating, the one-on-one virtual combat of Street Fighter or the simulated clash of futuristic armies in StarCraft require a dexterity with a fighting stick or mouse that certainly exceed the muscular dexterity needed for the non-Olympic sport of competitive eating but maybe, possibly as much as is needed for the Olympic sport of competitive shooting.”

Totilo makes a point that the finger dexterity of using a fight stick is quite possibly Olympian. I’m sure Clockwork of the competitive “Marvel vs. Capcom” circuit could attest to that. But the Olympics is about sports that everyone can do. Everyone has guns. Not everyone has a fight stick. Now, does everyone have a javelin or pole with which to pole-vault? No, but they are accessible and able to be worked with in school for most major countries for the exact reason that they are in the Olympics.

Next Totilo argues that since chess lobbyists are working hard to get chess into the Olympics, then video games might have a case too. No. There’s a reason chess isn’t in the Olympics, just as there’s a reason golf will never be in the Olympics. While they require skill, they require intelligence and are clear competitions, they don’t quite make it on the list of Olympian sports. Perhaps it is because when you think of an Olympian you think of someone fit, someone who is the best specimen of health and athleticism from a country (which could say something as to the possibility of perspective being the only reason sports are allowed to be Olympian), but you don’t think of certain competitive golfers or chess players as Olympians.

This actually happened. Seriously.

A sport that is just like these that doesn’t belong in the Olympics? Table tennis. That’s right, I said it. What in the name of Zelda’s ocarina is table tennis doing in the Olympics? Tennis I understand. Table tennis? That’s like when power walking was in the Olympics. I’m lookin’ at you, Beijing. I could hardly believe it. Oh yeah, that happened. They called it race walking. Don’t believe me? Check it out.

So, I get it. I get there are things in the Olympics that justify putting video games in them. I totally understand it. However, look at the X-Games. Those are very athletic, very dangerous yet extremely skillful men and women who aren’t allowed to compete in the Olympics because their sport isn’t considered Olympian. What happened? They made their own competition that happens every year. This might be the answer for video games: The E-lympics.
I can’t believe I just wrote that because it sounds horrible, but you get the idea and someone else can come up with a better name for it. This can be the place that the competitive fighting game players who absolutely destroy each other in “Street Fighter” and “Marvel vs. Capcom” can get nationally recognized. Those geniuses at “Halo” multiplayer will have a place to shine. You really want to show off your “Dance Central” skills and say that you can get a perfect on the hardest difficulty? Welcome to the E-lympics.
The games would have to be ones where there is a definite winner and loser, otherwise the judging by interpretation issue arises like in gymnastics and figure skating. The idea that someone’s score is dependent on another person’s opinion is not very Olympian, and I’ve argued for years that a new system should be made due to how incredible some of those routines are and how often I see a perfect one lose out to one where someone else trips and falls.
Toss the idea around with your friends. If you all like it, maybe we should push for the E-lympics to be made, and let the Olympics stay the way they are – slightly messed up and a little confusing, but the Olympics. Besides, ours can have a way cooler opening ceremony hosted by Master Chief, Kratos, and Lara Croft.

One thought on “The E-lympics

  1. Actually golf will be in the 2016 Olympics.

    That’s not a vote for video games. To the contrary, I consider video games, chess, and poker as not sports (regardless of ESPN’s obsession with poker). To be a sport, the physically strenuous component of a game should be the primary component. The stringent requirements of a golf swing allow golf to barely make the cut for me.

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