Esports Exploration: Esports Clubs
Esports are suffering from the fact that they are not officially considered as a sport in most of the countries around the world. Traditional sports have been able to develop and sustain because tools were put in place to ensure an optimal growth of the sport. For example, every officially recognized sport is required to have a national federation that represents the sport in the country. These national federations are responsible for structuring the sport and drawing various national scale policies. These policies often aim to promote the participation rates in the sport and to ease its accessibility for participants. The success of traditional sports is highly linked with the way that sports developed and emphasized on creating a sustainable model, a crucial aspect that does not exist in esports.
A prominent factor to keep in mind when talking about sport management is the importance of club participation. In Europe, traditional sports have spread due to the structure that clubs offered and the overall organization of sport at a national level. At the beginning of the 2Oth century, more and more people gathered to practice sports. The upper class society would play a lot of tennis in their backyards, while working class played football in factory leagues. Sport participation exploded and a strong structure was needed to support its rapid growth. Therefore, clubs were created to support physical activity and develop the different sports. Sport clubs became the place where people enjoyed practicing in a social environment and training their skills in a (un)structured way. Nowadays, sport clubs are a great opportunity for sport managers to start grassroots initiatives and to reach people. Unfortunately, very few esports clubs exist in Europe and offer similar services such as those of traditional sport clubs. The esports community mainly consists of amateur and recreational gamers that could benefit from a better organization of esports. The creation of esports clubs could be a great opportunity for many players to take their passion to another level.
With the increasing opportunity to compete in various online competitions, the number of esports teams has also steeply increased. For example, the creation of a Dutch Dota League motivated many players in the Netherlands to form a team and compete against other teams. Even though people came together as a team, it did not mean that they were creating an esports club. Managing one team is obviously less demanding than managing a club. However, it makes all these teams very unpredictable as they appear as quickly as they disappear.
Creating clubs (online as well as offline) where people take their passion for gaming as seriously as they would do for football, basketball, or dance… could help esports grow as an official sport. Rather than playing and learning by having a lot of games, gamers should have the opportunity to train their skills, get feedback, be coached by someone, share their passion in a social environment and compete in seriously organized championships. Esports have a lot to learn from traditional sports and we should get inspired to follow a similar development pattern. There are already so many teams in the Netherlands competing in all kind of esports; coming together and creating clubs could lead to a general increase of the Dutch esports level.
The way esports are practiced is one of the reasons that make them successful. However, the community which is mainly composed of amateurs seems a bit hidden behind the hype of pro gaming. Therefore, developing esports clubs and bringing a structure to its practice could be beneficial for the community. The esports community has so much potential, but compared to traditional sport it seems like only a glimpse of it is used. Everyone in the community would benefit from a stronger structure, and this could start with the creation of esports clubs. Providing a better opportunity for talents to develop and express themselves could be an immense step towards getting esports officially recognized as sports.