Why Real Sports Are Losing The Battle For Popularity With Esports

Posted on February 26, 2019 - Last Updated on September 3, 2021

A fascinating new study conducted by broadband and communications provider Plusnet has revealed some rather disturbing figures for sports organizers.

The study, as reported in the Irish Examiner, gained the opinion of 1,000 people comparing and contrasting their attachment to FIFA 19 vs. real football.

The findings

  • 72 percent of those surveyed would rather play football on a console than in real life.
  • Almost one third cited the fact that they were “better at playing video games” than actual football.
  • Around 20 percent of players in the key millennial age-range of 18-23 years of age stated that football was “too tiring” to play compared to playing on a console.
  • A similar amount stated that they don’t feel physically fit enough to endure a real game of football and so prefer to play on consoles.
  • 61 percent said they preferred playing FIFA 19 to watching football live in a stadium.
  • 63 percent said they preferred playing FIFA 19 to watching a game live on television.
  • 56 percent of the respondents felt that esports was a “real sport.”
  • 58 percent also felt that esports should be included in the Olympic Games.
  • Half said they felt esports competitors should be viewed similarly to professional athletes.

Real-life football is ‘too tiring’

Let’s break down a few of these opinions. Those who wish to use this data as evidence against esports’ viability may well point to the self-perceived lack of fitness among one fifth of millennial players.

However, this means that 80 percent of those questioned did not feel that playing football was too tiring. Then, the majority might indicate esports can be enjoyed as part of an individual’s love for a specific sport or past time. It can be balanced with other areas of their life, including fitness.

61 percent want their clubs to have a representative esports professional

This for me is an interesting stat as it hints at how the players, rather than the organisers or software developers, would like to see the future of esports.

In FIFA esports at the moment, we have a mix of teams: those that have been put together mainly by esports organizations and those that have been brought together by professional teams to represent them.

Does this mean that if more professional teams were to have official esports representatives that it would leave the esports teams without a huge following? This could well be something to consider, especially given the parochial nature of football fans. Rivalries, after all, can border on the obsessive.

What seems to be clear is who esports players than enjoy football also want their teams to be represented at these events by top-level gamers.

The old Olympic Games question

The issue of esports in the Olympics is one we have tackled several times in the past. It’s not going away either.

As with many things, this may well eventually boil down to money. In an industry predicted to generate over 1 billion in revenue in 2019, esports in the Olympics will eventually make more sense than not.

A word of caution

All this said, don’t consider these (or any) survey results gospel. It was a relatively small sample that used relatively rigid parameters in deciding who to interview. After all, if you interview only FIFA 19 players, you’re going to generate results that portray enthusiasm for esports culture.

Even so, the results shed light on just how popular esports is becoming.

Ian John Avatar
Written by
Ian John

A lifelong poker fan, Ian is also well-versed in the world of sports betting, casino gaming, and has written extensively on the online gambling industry. Based in the UK, Ian brings fresh insight into all facets of gaming.

View all posts by Ian John