As summer comes on and the smell of cut grass permeates the air, I helplessly remember my younger years. I had a Goonies poster on my wall and was a die-hard Dukes of Hazard fan. I also had a black Huffy bike I named Ghost Rider after my favorite comic book, and I jumped so many rickety wooden ramps that I could argue today that is the reason for my back problems. I also had an old Commodore 64 computer. I can still remember the burning plastic smell it gave off when it started up. Yes, my old computer had less graphics than a piece of paper with writing on it, but you could play some cool games with that thick plastic keyboard.
Video games have come a long way since then; so much so, that there is a question of whether they should be considered a sport. If a person would have asked me this five years ago, I would have scoffed at them. But not in that derogatory way that makes someone feel small and insignificant, no I would have scoffed in surprise.
This calls to mind the question: what exactly is a sport? Well, simply defined, it is a competitive activity requiring skill and some sort of physical prowess. The word “athletic” comes to mind-thus the physicality. Do video games fall in this category?
Well, as far as being a physical activity, I still remember the Gamer’s Thumb of 89, when I spent hours at the Taco Tico playing Street Fighter against one of the Mattingly brothers. I couldn’t even pick up my Yoo-hoo afterwards. That was back when arcades were still prominent in our world, and often a patron could find a large colorful video game in the back corner of a fast food restaurant.
Regardless, there is a new category called Esports. Ironically, my spell-check corrected the spelling of that name. Good thing my spell-check doesn’t have an opinion, because beyond the definition, playing video games can be a career now, one that can earn up to seven figures in some instances. As a result of this, and other factors, colleges are now giving scholarships for students adept in the fast finger play and strategic mind required to win at these games.
So, the activity for which I scolded my sons for “wasting” too much time with, can now pave the way to college. In my mind, before this year, I had assumed that this would be in very rare cases. However, it is not. The concept is becoming more and more common, even with our local colleges.
Consequently, on the last day of school, one of my students came up to me and informed me of his award of a scholarship for playing a certain game online. I have known him since he was a sophomore and was overjoyed with his accomplishment, and indeed the award seemed to have focused and inspired him.
As such, maybe the question should not be whether it is a sport or not, rather how can it provide more opportunities for our sons and daughters. In a society where most colleges grade our graduating students by one standardized test, I think this is a good thing.
It’s a new world, and the older I get, the more I realize that many of the things that come to pass are not what I expected. And while most people do not like change, I have found that it is one of the only constants. It is how we react to that change that determines us.
That was a little too philosophical. Time to play WordScapes on my cell phone.
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.firstname.lastname@example.org.