Apart from financial investments by traditional sports athletes and owners, there is also a growing genuine interest in competitive video games within mainstream sports. More and more sports athletes want to try their hand at e-sports, thus making for an interesting blend of two very different communities.
Last week we followed a story on Jonas Jerebko: NBA player, competitive gamer, and e-sports team owner. In recent years the growth of popularity in competitive gaming has enticed the likes of sports athletes from all over the world.
Less than a decade ago it would be very rare to hear about popular sports athletes openly talking about their love for video games. This may be because video games now have much higher production value leading to better graphics. It could also be attributed to the growth of the video game industry as a whole leading to larger marketing investments and flashier ad campaigns. Whatever the case may be, athletes now more than ever are beginning to love competitive gaming.
Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is known to have a part in helping make the most recent Madden games. Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs plays Madden competitively and won the Madden 22 Bowl. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps claims to practice Call of Duty more than 30 hours a week. Emmanuel Frimpong of AFC Eskilstuna plays FIFA competitively and even beat popular gaming YouTuber KSI multiple times.
Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz competitively plays League of Legends as a part of an e-sports team called Hyper X. During an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s talkshow on ESPN, he criticized Cowherd for stereotyping video games and talking down on e-sports. Hayward thus serves as a prime example of competitive gaming breaking boundaries and dispelling dated stereotypes of the e-sports community.