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"I really want them all to go outside and get some fresh air at some point."

12th September 2017

Joe Brady Photography.

Joe Brady Photography.

A quote from Sally Nugent commenting on esports live on BBC Breakfast. We have all heard this in the gaming industry hundreds of times, but is there any truth in it? Are professional gamers, or esports athletes, really unhealthy? Should they even be referred to as athletes? Is esports a sport? Do we care?

Joe Brady Photography.

Joe Brady Photography.

I hope to unpick a few of these questions throughout this article, starting with the latter. Do we care whether a professional esports player is classed as an athlete or whether esports is classed as a sport? No. No we do not. Esports is a new phenomenon that stands alone from anything that has come before it. There are inherently similarities between the esports and sports industries due to the competitive nature of the activities. This is why we are slowly seeing more and more sporting brands investing into the industry, understanding that the same values can be promoted. I know that esports can be hard for the mainstream, older audience to conceptualise and thus packaging it as a new sport works for the old media, but this is my plea, please let us do our own thing.

That is not to say that the crossover between the industries is not widely welcomed by the esports industry. It is not only welcomed from my point of view but it is needed. There are only so many endemic technology and gaming brands that can invest in the esports industry, we needed sports to get involved in order to bring the non-endemic brands over – it doesn’t seem like such a leap for them then.

Joe Brady Photography.

Joe Brady Photography.

Now to get to the main focus of my article. Is gaming as a profession unhealthy? I will answer this question with another question. Is working in an office unhealthy? It is true that professional gaming as a profession is largely sedentary and yes this can cause some health problems. Playing eight, ten even twelve hours of video games a day is not ideal from a health perspective. However, the majority of the world today are in desk based office jobs and will spend the same amount of time on their arses in work. There are always going to be unhealthy people in any profession.

It is going to be difficult to change the mainstream attitudes towards gaming, but the support from BBC Three, BBC Sport and BT Sport in the UK thanks to the Gfinity Elite Series is certainly going someway to helping that. I think people like myself also have a big part to play here. It is up to esports organisations to show the industry the way forward in terms of taking care of your health, but also to pump out content showing off our healthy, esports professionals.

Just from one message to my players enquiring about their gym and diet regimes I got a wealth of responses.
 

I go to the gym 6 days a week, heavily focussed on weight training at the moment and I am taking care of my diet. I only drink water, I avoid fast food and I make sure I don’t go over my calorie goal.
— Nihat 'Innaxe' Aliev, League of Legends Player.
I go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Staying fit is incredibly important to me.
— Niels ‘Nielskoek’ Kok, Rocket League Player.
I am a swimming coach, a lifeguard and an avid Crossfit athlete. Gamers are not fat people who stay at home all day!
— Christian 'Taxer' Jensen, League of Legends Player.

I hope this was an insightful read, I think I speak for a large amount of the esports industry with what I say. If you want to discuss this topic further, please feel free to Tweet me and I will be happy to discuss!

P.S. Please don’t ask me whether I think esports should be an Olympic sport, guess what… I don’t care!

Kieran Holmes-Darby