The popularity of eSports in the United States has never been greater, yet professional gamers still have a hard time finding acceptance among the status quo. And while we still have a way to go before eSports is featured prominently during ESPN’s prime time lineup, the movement just received the biggest boost by far this past Friday.
Gamespot reports that, after what was described as a “lengthy process”, the US government will now formally acknowledge League of Legends players as professional athletes.
Why was such a move deemed necessary to some? It all boils down to visas. According to eSports manager Nick Allen, of Riot Games, developer of League of Legends:
“So the United States government recognizes League of Legends pro players as professional athletes and award visas to essentially work in the United States under that title… This is groundbreaking for eSports; now we can start looking at international players when they come over. It’s a much easier process because they’re actually recognized by the government. This is a huge thing.”
Gamespot also notes that there was much back and forth with the US government, to prove that gaming is a legit sporting activity. And it is assumed that this decision will be applicable towards all professional gamers, even non-League of Legends players.
Needless to say, many eSports detractors are still not convinced, and given the stellar reputation that lawmakers have, their seal of approval simply gives them another reason to be annoyed. But for defenders of eSports, this is most definitely a momentous occasion.