The implications are global. There are currently more than 2.4 billion gamers, or about a third of the world’s population, according to Statista, an international marketing and consumer data company based in Germany. There are professional teams around the world that compete in tournaments for prize pools of up to $ 34 million, as well as tens of thousands of other competitions with cash prizes or contested in school and recreational leagues, representing over $ 1 billion in esports worldwide. income.
The effect on traditional sports is only one of the concerns often expressed about this phenomenon. The proliferation of esports conjures up images of children eating sugary snacks late at night as they gaze at their screens. However, research does not fully support this, with a 2019 German study finding only a “slight positive correlation” between play and body mass in adults, but not in children.
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Some youth sports coaches seem to understand the spell that video games cast on their players. In 2018, a New Jersey lacrosse coach decided that if he couldn’t beat them, he would join them. He gave a pre-game talk that demonstrated his extensive knowledge of Fortnite, and it ricocheted on social media.
“It’s like Fortnite, just like Battle Royale,” he said. “Twenty-four teams, there are four left. You know what? There are four left, we have Chug Jugs, we have the Gold SCAR. Let’s go! It’s no different from a Fortnite battle. Let’s go win this, baby! “
The waning interest in sports is hardly surprising when 87% of teens in the United States have an iPhone, according to a survey of 10,000 young people by investment bank Piper Sandler, or when 26% of young people in the United States have an iPhone. Generation Z have named video games their favorite entertainment activity. , compared to 10 percent who chose to watch television.
“There is a lot more competing for the attention of young people – esports are important,” said Dr. Travis E. Dorsch, associate professor and founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University. . “As children grow older, they are increasingly torn academically and socially. We see a lot of dropouts. This creates a calculation for youth sports.
The more than $ 19 billion industrial youth sports complex, with its private training, interstate travel and $ 350 in baseball bats, bears some of the blame. Ten-month seasons chasing a college scholarship in just one sport can mean kids get yelled at by overzealous coaches and parents spending thousands of dollars on team fees and travel.