SXSW Newsflash: Esports is real sports, what the traditionals can learn

In a world where the viewership of the League of Legends grand final is the same as the super bowl final, traditional sports certainly has a lot to learn from its naughty cousin. For starters, the queue for the session itself snaked around the building and half the line didn’t make it in.

It certainly seems that Esports is trendy but is its growth a real upward trend? Well, it is estimated that there are 380 million Esports fans worldwide and that is expected to double in the next year so it certainly seems so!

So what is behind this unprecedented growth?

The panel was a great mix. Patrick Dees, the founder of the Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL) moderated the discussion with input from Ariel Horn, emmy award winning producer, Adrienne Lawrence, broadcaster and presenter for the Madden League and finally, NFL veteran and streamer Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson.

The consensus was that Esports is more of an authentic fan experience and at the heart of that is being less uptight. The view is that traditional sports is too much of a performance nowadays and there is no avenue for connection to the athletes in the time between the ‘performances’ whereas Esports athletes are constantly streaming and constantly interacting.

A bit of swearing can help! Seriously, the tightly controlled environment that traditional sports leagues operate within means that athletes can risk feeling inhuman and worst of all inauthentic the death nail of forging connection to digital natives. A swear word now and then during a moment of intense involvement humanises athletes in a way that NFL or other traditional sports would never allow.

Finally, the panel had a word to the producers – get to know your fans better. Esports has had to grow a fan base from nothing and has done so over the past 10 years. People can still remember a time when Esports had no traction at all. Trad sports producers have never known that time and have become stagnant in their delivery and worse, their understanding of what really excites and engages.

By: Fleur Horner

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