Esports are Dumb

“I’m creative; I’m not re-creative.”
Donald Byrd

Esports are Dumb

I’ll admit that Esports, in general, are beyond my understanding. There are hot spots of popularity already, like South Korea, and the assumption is that Esports is going to be big. Perhaps inevitable. I’m guessing that part of it may be cultural.

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to be hired to design a piece in an International Festival in Hong Kong. The piece was about ten minutes long and I’d worked on it in Los Angeles before taking it to Hong Kong, which meant I was adapting it for the space and environment. Not so difficult.

When my performers were attending workshops and stuff, I was free to roam the city. When I had to be in the space, the performers were out and about. I spent most of the week by myself, discovering a new city and a new culture. I loved it. I’d love to live in Hong Kong.

The pride in food was amazing. All food was good food. The pride of the owners meant that they’d be on the docks in the early morning or at the markets, the food was fresh and cooked by life-long cooks; wholly professional. From the corner lunch restaurants to the big fancy six forks and five glasses per plate restaurants, everything was perfectly presented and executed. If you want to see that pride in America, you gotta pay for it and hope that the kid behind the counter has some pride in craft.

Swipe key cards are not new to me. In my hotel room there was a card holder. When the card went in, the electricity went on. When I left and took the card, everything except the mini-fridge shut down. How many times in Kingman, Arizona did I check into a Best Western and turn on the tube, the air, the lights and then leave for dinner? This level of effiecency should be in America, dammit!

The point of the above paragraphs is to make clear that my world is different than your world. Region, age, education, gender, interests are all of the many things that will skew my opinion when it comes to Esports. In fact, I feel that non-competitive games like World of Warcraft are more likely to span cultures successfully.

It may sound Un-American (and Un-Earth) when I tell you that I don’t like sports. In Junior and High Schools there is this strange push for School Spirit. Pride in your school to what end? The rough thing is that this instilled School Spirit carries far beyond the years one in is school and so there are life-long rivalries, even hatred, for your good neighbors across the street in your own hometown. That is not healthy.

Regional professional sports are just as unhealthy. Pride in one’s team can lead to personally defending that team on the street, sometimes with violence. It has happened between fans of soccer in Europe and the fans of football in the United States: brutal violence over team pride. I could only hope that our civilization would move beyond the gladiator Roman appeal for blood, physical exchange and even the language, “on the battlefield”.

School spirit divides a town against itself and then town vs town and then state vs state within one’s own country. I know people who would never live in a city because they hate the college football team in that city! What healthy things come from being true to your school like you are to your girl? I’d rather see patriotism for one’s country be emphasized, by far.

If you want to say the joys of teamwork, I’d respond with “do a play or ballet or musical, that is fantastic teamwork”. The most chilling phrase anyone could hear in school is the dismissive “boys will be boys” — that is some scary stuff. While I’m on a roll, I’d get rid of fraternities as unhealthy with strange lifelong alliances and dangerous hazing practices even to this very day, in 2017.

So, when I imagine Esports as a global event, I also imagine my first support will be to my own country. Would I hate South Korea from whipping my home team’s ass? Would I resent China for their tactics and skill? Could I glare at Russia and scoff at England and sniff at Australia for their sports teams vs my sports team? Would I wear my team colors as a challenge to anyone who cheers otherwise? Would I hate another country for a fucking sport? How about for beating my team ten years ago in the Esport Bowl?

History has shown that yes, I would do excactly that: hate another school, city, state or country over a stupid sport. Healthy Rivalry is an oxymoron. Pitting one against another in competition may push us to excel but also at the expense of friendship.

Sports are dumb. Esports are dumb. They foster hate, resentment and rivalries that can carry for decades beyond one single game. I have no doubt that the playoffs for the Esports Championship will be called The World Cup. Whoever wins must be the best country in the world.

Let’s look at it another way.

I’ve been to Boston. It is a great town. There really is a neighborhood bar on every corner and it feels like Cheers. Each bar feels like it is 100 years old and I’ve been to many.

Let’s say I am in Boston and decide to go to the ballet. Since I’m off to the ballet, I wear my Houston Ballet jacket. Supporting the arts and all that.

Sure enough, some guy nods at me and says:
“Nice jacket. Did you know Houston rented the set for Swan Lake from the Boston Ballet?”

“No, I didn’t. But I do know that the conductor for tonight has also worked in Houston and I’m looking forward to the show”.

Then he says,
“Then you must agree that Balanchine was the last great ballet choreographer; if you keep it to the Nutcracker.”

“I agree, even with updates like The Nut by Mark Morris and The Harlem Nutracker by Donald Bryd.”

He raises his eyebrows and says,
“Well, for my money Morris is a poser and Bryd is the real deal”.

To which I say,
“I’ve designed for Donald Bryd on several pieces, so I have a bias.”

And he says,
“Wanna get a beer after the show?”

“Boston has the best bars anywhere.”

And we meet for a beer after the show and begin to wonder, together, why the White Ballets from 1850 to 1900; the Swan Lakes, the Nutcrackers, the Coppélias, the Sleeping Beauties all put local folk and regional dance into their ballets to make them accessible to the audiences. And why don’t today’s new ballets incorporate Hip Hop if the past masters had no problem with popular dance? Then we decide we must get Ballet and Hip Hop choreographers together and must hold an annual conference or symposium and could we get a grant? Then we start to quibble on which city to hold it in because at that point it is all about the food because dancers love to eat and finally decide on Chicago because we both want to go to the Muddy Waters blues club. Ten years later, we are both in the history books for re-shaping modern Ballet and have become good friends.

The next night, I go to a Boston Celtics game wearing my LA Lakers jersey.
I get punched in the nose within ten minutes for disrespecting the home team.

Which story sounds better to you?

One thought on “Esports are Dumb

  1. Hm, you bring up some valid points here. I actually watched a short documentary not long ago, about Esports in general – and how “they” want to be achknowledged and accepted into the official “professional sports league” in our country, that baseball etc. belongs to as well. Was interesting to watch for me, as I wasnt really aware of just how “big” Esports have become, these days!

    Liked by 1 person

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