League of Legends Classified as "Sport" by US Immigration
By: Michael 'Zorion' Poropat
One of the most compelling questions regarding eSports is whether or not competitive gaming is actually a sport, or just a convenient name to use for the activity. Many argue that because there is no athletic ability or no real physical requirements to play a game, it is simply not a sport. Others argue that if something like darts or poker can be considered a sport, why not competitive gaming? It seems that there is one more point in favor of the latter as the United States visa bureau have ruled that League of Legends is officially a professional sport.
This came about after a Canadian League of Legends player, Danny "Shuphtur" Le, was offered a position on Team Coast and was denied a visa. Riot! Games themselves contacted the bureau and persuaded them that League of Legends is a sport and should be considered as such to allow Shuptur to qualify for a visa and play in America. This is a very big step in the right direction for eSports and while the rest of the games are still not seen as a sport, it is only a matter of time before more games follow in League of Legends footsteps.
Dustin Beck was interviewed by Polygon, "It validates eSports as a sport. Now we have the same designation as the NBA or NHL or other professional sports leagues. This opens the gates for other Professional League of Legends players to make the transfer to U.S. teams." When asked about viewership numbers for the LCS, beck responded "Our viewership numbers are stronger than 80 or 90 percent of the sports covered on ESPN. In Shanghai [All-Star event in May, 2013] we had 18 million unique viewers".
Its important to note that this only applies to the League of Legends Championship Series so far, but its likely that the StarCraft World Championship Series (WCS) could be next on the list. This is truely a huge step forward for eSports.