In January 2023, Brazilian Minister of Sports Ana Moser questioned if esports could be considered sports, which caused quite a commotion in the nation’s esports scene.
Although many individuals, including the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE), would agree that there should be visible boundaries between regular sports and esports, her reasoning was incredibly flawed. She compared the training professional sportsmen go through for competitions to pop musicians’ concert tours, demonstrating how little she understood about the industry.
A few days later, France, which already had some of the best esports legislation in the world, made another significant advancement when it unveiled plans for its national esports ecosystem.
What led these two significant figures in the global esports industry to act in such opposing ways within a week?
I’ll start by relaying directly what the Brazilian Ministry of Sports said in an interview with Brazilian news site UOL in the spirit of full disclosure: “Esports, in my opinion, are better categorized as an industry of entertainment than as a sport. You like playing video games, then. The esports player works out in the gym, but so does Brazilian pop singer Ivete Sangalo, who is not an athlete but rather an entertainer and artist. The electronic game can only ever have one possible outcome because to the digital, cybernetic code that controls it.” As opposed to athletics, it has a set schedule.
Moser’s presentation recycles tired, out-of-date arguments made by detractors who have long questioned the value of competitive gaming. I can’t go into detail in this article on why each and every one of her assertions is untrue.
It must be emphasized that Moser’s remarks have no bearing on how esports are handled in Brazil. In terms of business procedures, agreements, etc., nothing will change. But this demonstrates how profoundly ignorant a government ministry is of the subject and of recent events that may hasten the modernisation of the nation.
However, this does not imply that this way of thinking is new; on the contrary, it has a long and illustrious past. In my experience as a writer covering Brazilian esports, I have seen the denial and disrespect of local esports stakeholders towards politics. The Brazilian Confederation of Electronic Sports (CBDEL), which is largely unrecognized by Brazilian publishers, organizations, and tournament organizers, requested that the government draft legislation designating it as Brazil’s representative institution, which sparked a response from the local scene.
Leaders in the industry spoke in front of the Brazilian government to advocate against putting esports under the same federative framework as conventional sports, pointing out the apparent differences between the two.
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As she tried to thwart the measure addressing federations in esports, Moser kept a close watch on Senator Leila Barros, a friend and former teammate from their time spent together on the Brazilian volleyball team. In light of this, I can see how Moser may have concluded that esports and conventional sports are fundamentally unlike.
Even if there are many regulatory similarities between traditional sports and esports, most people would agree that traditional sports were not created with a “owner” in mind. Pioneers have recognized this, as shown by the European Parliament’s approval of financing for esports in Europe. The problem is that Moser ignored it by emphasizing the differences between the two areas and then supported his stance by relying on out-of-date presumptions.
Brazilian esports leaders have returned to apathy despite their success in stopping CBDEL’s bill attempt. They have declined requests to appear before legislative bodies and therefore missed a chance to inform legislators.
I clearly remember drawing the link that a well-known player in Brazilian esports had recommended I meet with a So Paulo politician who had played a key role in opposing CBDEL’s legislative attempt. After speaking with him, I understood that although he had helped me do the right thing at the time, he had really done it for the wrong reasons. I deleted his points from the article I was writing for The Esports Observer at the time because of how embarrassing they were.
Emmanuel Macron was seen with managers from the French esports companies Team Vitality and Karmine Corp at events in the Élysée Palace, in contrast to their Brazilian counterparts who steered clear of politics until it was absolutely necessary.
It is now easy to see how both strategies performed.
It is possible to link the rise of the extreme right over the last ten years in part to the political apathy of many individuals. People like Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump became well-known by disparaging the political class and preaching about “outsiders.” Now, influential people are too preoccupied avoiding politics to learn about anything, even esports.
This is my last article I’ll ever write for Esports Insider, so yes, this is a farewell. You’ll soon learn that I’m still working in esports, but with a terrific Brazilian company and in a lower-profile manner. Do not disregard politics, I wanted to say to those who have been kind enough to read my journalism since I doubt I will write another article like this for long time. Similar conduct has sometimes been shown by me in the past, but one just has to glance around to see where it finally leads.
We must act more decisively and responsibly. Politics, as dishonorable it may seem, is what eventually propelled human civilization ahead. Take that away, and you’re reduced to bare-bones brutality. Placing esports on a higher or lower level than politics would be incorrect.
I’m hoping that my last comment will stick in the minds of the esports journalists. I value your time spent reading this and thank Esports Insider for publishing it. I also pledge that we will recur in the esports industry. Cheers!