In Germany, esports has long struggled to gain recognition as an official sport. This isn't the case in many other countries, so why do German sports organizers feel the need to dismiss it?
A report commissioned by the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) in 2018 was handed a simple task: to decide whether esports were, officially speaking, sports. The answer was a clear no. In comparison to "real" sports, the report explained, "esports are in a different galaxy."
Fair enough. But how did they meet this decision and what does the future hold? We look to answer a few burning questions surrounding the world's largest "non-sport".
On what grounds are esports not sports?
The justification for the DOSB's decision focused on the physical demands placed on a given sport. The document, made public through the German Press Agency, states that officially recognized sports require a certain level of "traditional physicality". On these grounds, according to DOSB CEO Veronika Rücker, esports does not warrant classification as a sport.
In an recent interview with DW, Hans Jagnow, President of the German esport Federation (ESBD), claimed the study was merely conducted in order to support pre-existing prejudices held by the DOSB. Furthermore, he claimed to see little difference between esports and a host of other sports that are considered real sports by the DOSB. "Darts, motor sports, and even table football - which is classified as a non-profit sport - don't require physical effort, but precise movements like eSports," he said.
Why is the ESBD fighting for recognition?
Simply put, recognition would make life a lot easier for eports organisations. It would bring financial advantages, in the form of tax breaks, and provide the types of legal protections offered to classified sports.
It could also open up another interesting avenue: the participation of esports athletes in the Olympics. The more nations that recognize eports as a fully-fledged sport, the stronger the discussion around if and when esports will become an Olympic event.
How is esports classified elsewhere?
esport has lbeen a global phenomenon for some time, but Asia has led the way. South Korea became the first to nation to officially classify esports as a sport, followed by Japan. Since then, Brazil, the USA and France have followed suit, while Denmark and Poland are currently reviewing its status
How do traditional German sports clubs feel about esports?
It varies. In recent years, many football clubs have set up their own esports teams. These are chiefly focused on sports simulations, however, such as FIFA, as opposed to First Person Shooters. Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen are examples of Bundesliga clubs to jump on the esports bandwagon. Bayern are reportedly considering creating their own team, while Borussia Dortmund have announced they want nothing to do with it.
Schalke, meanwhile, is the only Bundesliga football club to have an esports team for both FIFA and League of Legends - a popular, non-sporting, esports title.