Will soccer or e-sports make it to the future?

Will soccer or e-sports make it to the future?

Football has been in decline in the last decade. Both the number of teens playing soccer and the rating of professional soccer games are in steep decline. The only positive thing that’s going on in soccer is the newfound interest in women’s soccer with the Women’s World Cup. I hope women will get the attention that they deserve, but it is highly likely that the physical form of playing soccer will be outdated soon.

On the other hand, e-sports is exponentially growing. According to the latest survey by research firm Dorinsight, 74 percent of the participants of a survey say that e-sports will be the soccer of the future. They believe that it will be immensely popular and seemingly everywhere. However, only 53 percent think that e-sports is really sports as we understand it today. Some 47 percent do not consider it as a real sport. This means that people put heavy emphasis on physicality when they think about sports. But in reality, professional e-sports players train relentlessly too.

The participants think that it is beneficial for their children to play e-sports and 53 percent said that they would like their children to be pro players. I believe that it is due to the fact that the pro gamers earn a lot of money and that this motivates parents.

Furthermore, 56 percent of the participants believe that e-sports teaches youngsters to become team members, 46 percent believe that e-sports improves analytical thinking and 42 percent believes that e-sports enable their children to adapt to future technologies.

The most famous e-sports games according to participants are League of Legends and Counter Strike. The most famous team among the participants is Fenerbahçe 1907, a Turkish sports club.

So what does this research tell us?

It tells that e-sports will likely continue its upward trend and if nothing changes in the future, the soccer that we adore will be a thing of the past.

I believe that there are a few big trends that fuel this phenomenon. First of all, the number of children living in the cities is increasing. In 2016, an estimated 54.5 percent of the world’s population lived in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60 percent of people globally and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants. This makes it harder for anyone one to find a decent place to play soccer. Over-crowdedness and the lack of empty fields is an obstacle for soccer.

The other big trend that harms soccer is betting. As the betting industry grew, soccer lost its innocence and appeal. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, many people believe that games are fixed and that the industrialization of soccer was the worst thing that happened to the sport.

And finally the biggest trend that affects all of us is digitalization. Our children are digital natives, meaning that they have been exposed to gadgets since day one. They did not have to learn how to use a mouse and they have acquired the digital knowhow, which we have amassed in decades, in the first few years of their lives. So for this generation playing soccer as e-sports is more natural than going out and actually playing the sport. I love technology, but I am not too happy about this. I believe that we should have a global discussion about this. Do we want our children to be physically active or are we fine with an e-sports future?

Ersu Ablak, esports,