No March Madness. No conclusion to the NBA regular season. No final month of the NHL regular season. No MLB opening day. Every major sporting event that comes to mind has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic that has taken America by storm.
Well, almost every major sporting event.
As COVID-19 keeps millions around the country confined to their homes without much to do or any live sports to help ease the boredom, there is a group of athletes that have not been forced to the sidelines. These athletes are nowhere near as famous as the ones that typically grace our television screens every day, but work just as hard to perfect their craft. These athletes don’t play for their next max contract or a spot on ESPN’s news ticker. They play for the love of the game and the commoradorie of a community. Ironically, these athletes are more like me and you than the ones that we idolize and spend countless hours watching, mimicking their every move.
These athletes are the gamers of the world. Normally forced to the background, it is their turn to take hold of the spotlight.
People tend to write off eSports for one reason or another. Many consider eSports to be a hobby, not a profession. Others refuse to acknowledge gamers as athletes because they are not in the gym getting shots up or out on the field catching passes or hitting a ball. Because they are not in peak physical shape or out taking part in the physical activity that usually defines a sport, they are not worthy of being deemed athletes.
I grew up playing football and baseball. I also spent a lot of time playing video games with my friends. If I wasn’t at football practice, lifting weights or taking batting practice with my dad, odds are I was on XBOX playing Call of Duty or whatever game was popular at that time. I was good at the games I played, but I was nowhere near the level of the professionals who dedicate their lives to playing video games.
Gamers spend countless hours practicing with their team and individually to become the best players possible. It might not be the most physically exerting activity, but why should the eSports community and gaming as a whole be put down because of that? Why should eSports be pushed to smaller streaming platforms instead of major networks?
With major sports on a hiatus for the foreseeable future, now is the time for that to change. Now is the time for all of the hard work and dedication that gamers put in for years and across multiple tournaments and showcases to be put on display for the whole world to see.
Now is the time for eSports athletes to spend a moment in the spotlight. And whether you like it or not, it’s about damn time.Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.