Professional football, baseball, and basketball players in America are paid hundreds of millions of dollars because they are the best athletes in the world. They have to train every day, and millions watch as they push their bodies to their limits. Likewise, E-Sports are becoming largely popular around the world, as gamers compete against one another until the best is crowned champion. Unfortunately, E-Sports players – despite being the best gamers in the world (and deserving of more money) – earn much less than professional athletes.
According to Statista, more than 107 million people watch professional sports in America. Although online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are replacing traditional cable television, live sports have remained incredibly popular, which is one of the main reasons why cable television companies are still in business.
Statista has also reported a worldwide E-Sports audience of around 165 million frequent viewers, and 215 million occasional viewers worldwide. Those numbers are impressive, but they’re not too much higher than the United States’ sports viewership alone. It’s safe to say more people watch traditional athletics worldwide than professional video games, but E-Sports definitely has a considerably large audience, one that is only growing with time.
Matt Ryan, the QB for the Atlanta Falcons, is earning $30,000,000 during the 2018 season. The highest-paid E-Sports player, named Kuro Takhasomi, is the world’s best Dota 2 player and he’s earned a grand total of $3,480,788.35. (By the way, Dota 2 is played on gaming PCs, not consoles, in case you’re a console gamer and haven’t heard of Dota.) That’s a lot of money, don’t get me wrong – but compared to NFL players, for example, it’s not much at all.
Athletes are paid incredibly large sums of money for two reasons:
- They are the best at what they do
- People like watching them be the best at what they do
Professional athletes are talented, hard-working individuals. Most professional football players, for instance, started playing football as soon as they were old enough to throw and catch. Ever since then, they’ve played, practiced, and trained for hours every day, several days a week, every month, year after year. The same goes for soccer players, basketball players, hockey players, etc.
Moreover, professional sports are exciting. When the best athletes in the world compete, the games are intense. I often find myself watching highlight reels, amazed by the athletes’ talent.
Proponents of professional sports will argue that the athletes deserve to be paid as much as they are because there is a large audience of people who want to watch them play. Furthermore, they say professional athletes have to dedicate themselves to their sport, which is completely true.
What they don’t understand, however, is that professional gamers also have to train for hours every single day. They also have to dedicate themselves completely to their game. They also have the best hand-eye coordination. They also have practiced different strategies, tactics, and plays to walk away victorious. If you’ve ever played a competitive title, you know how hard they can be – and if you’ve ever seen a professional play, you know how talented they are.
Professional athletes earn eight-figure salaries because they are the best at what they do, and they have a large audience. Professional gamers are the best at what they do, and they also have a large audience – therefore, they should also be paid more.
A few months ago during basketball season, I was sitting on the couch watching one of my favorite professional gamers on YouTube. My friend walked in and asked me “why are you watching someone else play video games when you can just play them yourself? That’s pretty stupid man.”
What happened next?
He walked into the other room, plopped down on the couch, and turned on the basketball game. It was a beautiful sunny day – why would he watch other people play basketball when he could go out and play himself? People watch video games for the same reasons people watch sports: the players are talented and the matches are intense.
Luckily, popular streamers like Tyler Blevins, more commonly known as Ninja, are helping to bridge the gap between the mainstream and video games. Ninja has been featured on large news outlets, such as CNBC – he’s also played Fortnite with Drake, one of the most popular artists of our time.
Professional gamers have other ways of making money besides their tournament earnings. For example, almost all of them generate revenue via Twitch, YouTube, and sponsorships. However, professional football players also have sponsorships, which only widens the pay gap.
As video games receive more exposure and E-Sports become more more popular with time, pro gamers’ salaries should increase. Eventually, the world will wake up and understand that being a professional gamer – or, at least being the best gamer in the world – takes just as much hard work, dedication, and raw talent, as professional sports.