Video Games Are Better Than Sports

By Gus Mastrapa in Pretension +1
Friday, August 19, 2011 at 9:09 am
Ever wonder what's going through the minds of people who just don't get video games? The world is full of them, with their folded arms and silent judgments. They're girlfriends who hate the wedge that the Xbox 360 seems to drive into their relationships. They're boneheaded politicians who try to legislate video games out of existence. And they're old folks who just don't get it. I have a decent idea of how all their brains work because I have a similar, poorly informed, mostly emotional prejudice. I hate sports.

I think they're boring. I hate how they're so ubiquitous. And I can't help but think less of people who are into them. When I find out that someone I like or admire is into sports I'm immediately disappointed. They may not know it, but once that cat is out of the bag they have to put in extra work to rise in my estimation. 

Disliking sports is like being The Grinch Who Hated Weekdays -- you're in the minority and there's always some big Super Bowl match on television to annoy you. Of course I think that video games are vastly superior to sports. In a perfect world people who like sports would be relegated to their parent's basements and gamers would drink, eat and watch StarCraft II matches in every neighborhood pub. Video games are better than sports. And here's why.

Firstly, let me expand on my claim that sports are boring. I think even sports fans would admit that their favorite pastime is boring. Entire games go by where little dramatic happens. Of course there are always those thrilling, clutch moments -- the kind where you can hear people screaming from three houses away because Dr. J threw a touchdown. I get it. People get invested in these silly contests. But people will get sucked into a hermit crab race if you let them. It's not hard to do.

Games are infinitely less boring than sports because they're about more than a bunch of over-paid jerks kicking a ball around. Games can take place in any setting and allow you to do anything. They're not limited by the laws of physics or the fact that human beings are mortal. I'd rather play the most tedious video game than watch the most exciting sporting event. If all sports were more like Blernsball or American Gladiators I might be interested. We live in the 21st century. Bats and balls just don't cut it any more. Add motorcycles, land-mines and giant trap-door spiders and I'll be riveted. Or how about a good, old fashioned Kumite? I guess that's why pro wrestling is appealing to me. Because when you're watching WWE somebody has taken the time to write some story (or at least a couple of gags) so that your evening won't be a total waste.

Maybe I'm not being fair to poor old sports because I'm comparing apples and oranges. Games are experiential, often narrative things and the kind of sports I'm talking about are for spectating. I'll grant that participating in sports is a slightly different story. They're a fine way to stay healthy. But note that most humans, when they want to get in shape, go to the gym or jog. Some opt to play team sports like basketball or soccer. But I'll never be one of them. The last thing I need is some sweaty, thick-necked stranger yelling at me to, "Dee Up" or whatever. Give me a treadmill or a skateboard. I don't like you and I don't want to be on your stupid team anyway.

Recently a sort of debate unfurled in the periphery of my awareness. A community member at Destructoid wrote that e-Sports can't be real sports. A valiant fellow from MLG tried to set her straight, but I'd argue that there's no point. e-Sports have video games in them so they're automatically better than sports. Why aim so low?

I've been to my share of sporting events. And I've been to more than a few e-Sports competitions. I actually worked for the now-defunct World Series of Video Games for a time. If e-Sports had better hot dogs I'd say go ahead and do away with baseball all together. I'll admit that watching a StarCraft match isn't quite as visceral as being on the fifty yard line of a basketball court. But that's just about proximity. Go stand in traffic or sneak into the kitchen of a busy restaurant and you'll get just as much excitement. But when it comes down to it I'd rather watch some dude Zerg rushing a base than some college kid run a hundred yards with a ball tucked under his arm. That's just me.

I'll re-iterate. A lot of what I'm talking about here is totally personal and informed by my shitty emotions. My dad likes sports. And he was kind of a dick, so there's that. There's no worse feeling then pretending to give a fuck about the Dolphins so that you can hang out with your dad then getting left home when they play the game of the century. I'm willing to admit that my childhood might have something to do with my hatred for sports and the jugheads who love them. I was the fat kid who always got picked last in gym class. I was the slow kid who always got stuck playing fullback in soccer. And I was the gawky dork who grew too fast and had to go to physical therapy because he was so damn clumsy. Now you know my Mr. Glass origin story. Pardon me for not cheering for your stupid heroes.

We're always going to live in a world where sports gets fifty channels and video games have to share one with re-runs of Cops. Sports will get eight stadiums downtown, a whole section of the newspaper and the unflinching attention of millions of fans. I'll never get it because I know that there a million other pastimes that are better. Heck, painting Warhammer miniatures is better than being into sports. Larpers are cooler to me than sports fans. But we're stuck in a world where video games will remain something of a niche. No matter how many people play Angry Birds we'll always live in a world where sports are bigger. I've come to accept this fate. But I don't have to be happy about it.

Pretension +1 is a weekly column by Gus Mastrapa that holds the culture of video games up to the rest of culture, deeming all else inferior.

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