Martin Devlin: Should Fortnite qualify as a sport?

Author
Martin Devlin,
Section
Video,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 31 July 2019, 12:26PM

Is Fortnite a sport? The answer quite clearly is Yes. E-sports, accept it or otherwise, are here to stay.

They attract millions of participants, similar numbers of spectators and now, after witnessing the first ever FWC at Flushing Meadow in New York on the weekend, the sort of  prize-money many other self-called sports would love to call their own. 

But does all that still qualify as a sport?

Your standard dictionary definition pigeon holes "sport" as something like "an activity involving physical exertion AND skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment".

I've deliberately highlighted the word and in that sentence because to me it defines exactly what this debate is about. For a lot of us (self-styled) old-school type grunters, the whole is-it-or-isn't-it argument revolves around whether there's enough of both the effort and exertion involved to qualify Fortnite as a sport as opposed to being just a game. And then I suppose if it does qualify as a sport should it then be also included in discussions such as eventual inclusion at the Olympics.

 Of course that is an entirely different proposition and one based mainly these days on revenue earning opportunities as opposed to any altruistic reasons for enhancing those original ideals of Faster, Stronger, Higher.

I've long argued against newbees like tennis and golf  being added to the quad-annual epic purely because any sport where it's own individual honours (being Majors & Grand Slams) remain more highly prized than a gold medal only devalues the thing not enhances it. E-sports I'm sure would not just love the chance to be included at the Olympics, they'd thrive on it.

In a world where everything is geared towards attracting likes, clicks and the generations whose lives depend on those things for personal self-fulfilment, then surely it's only a matter of time before these games are added.

And that's the point. Yes they tick many of the definitive boxes but but are these electronic sports actually sports?

Concentration, dedication, application all delivered in spades it's just that old chestnut called physicality that remains under question. But as Fortnite and similar other  past-times increase exponentially in popularity I wonder whether the sitting down  screen focussed part will become less and less irrelevant.

It's all about numbers playing, size of the audience watching and the potential revenue to be generated.