Virtual sports: is it worth watching?

Are e-sports a poor replacement for "real" sports during the quarantine?

EA Fifa Sports match.

Several soccer clubs have added to the popularity of e-sports during the pandemic. / Photo:

LatinamericanPost| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Deportes virtuales: ¿vale la pena verlos?

Lately, we have seen how sports organizations around the world have tried to go to e-sports to recover the losses caused by the coronavirus. Several soccer clubs, for example, have started online tournaments, which are intended to simulate the season. However, are these replacements worthy of the usual sports, filled with the same excitement and action? I have some arguments for and against.

Yes they are a worthy replacement

Among the strongest arguments for viewing these virtual sports is the sense of community they generate. It is evident that for some of the most fans, seeing their favorite athletes playing, even if they are not physically on the court, is enough to distract them from the current situation in the world. It is important that people do not feel that the feeling of normality has completely disappeared from their lives, so as not to fall into despair.

Additionally, virtual sports are ideal for stars to demonstrate skills that are important on and off the court. Hand-eye coordination, tactical thinking, and smart decision making are just a few of the skills a player can shine with right now.

It is also interesting how to see how some clubs have organized tournaments not with players from their real-life line-ups, but with e-sports professionals. This can bring more recognition and respect to this facet of sports that is so often ignored and who knows, perhaps it will bring more fans to the world of virtual sports.

They are not a worthy replacement

One of the strongest arguments against club e-sports as entertainment worth watching is that, unfortunately, athletes' skills are not effectively translated into the virtual world. A player who is considered a prodigy on the court can be a rookie in FIFA, PES, or any other alternative. You are not experiencing the highest level of competition and, therefore, you do not feel the same emotion.

This point again touches on the role of e-sports professionals in entertainment. Why watch Messi play FIFA when I can see the best e-sport professionals do it? In the same way, these e-sports professionals cannot show their full potential, since the online game that the coronavirus requires is not the same as the game played by two people on the same consoles since there are connection delays that are outside of any player's control.

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Similarly, unpredictability is also a missing factor in virtual sports. Although the simulations we have today are very advanced, they cannot, for example, replicate those surprising moments that exist in a real sport. A FIFA 2020 referee will always whistle the foul correctly, for example.

So is it worth watching virtual sports? That will depend on each person's preferences, although I would suggest at least giving them a chance before dismissing them altogether. For my part, it doesn't make sense to see a competition in which the level of the players is not the maximum (when it comes to Santander League stars playing Fifa for example) and I have never liked watching real-life sports in video games, Well, you need that feeling of emotion and unpredictability that only humans have. Similarly, it seems to me that true sports fans know that something is missing, that perhaps they cannot describe when they see e-sports, that human connection. For now, it is better to keep the two worlds separate. Or perhaps legitimize e-sports from the world where they come from, from video games.

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