Is Fortnite the new football?

By Benjamin Pfeffer, Staff Writer

Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, an internet personality and professional gamer, is by far the most popular gamer in the world. He has achieved this through livestreaming his games and life onto a website called Twitch, Amazon’s streaming platform. However, he reached a new height in these past few weeks.

In this past year he has reached heights previously unimaginable to the community of gamers.

He has accumulated over 18 million YouTube subscribers, ten million followers on Instagram, ten million followers and 250 thousand paying subscribers on Twitch, and three million followers on Twitter.

Arguably, his biggest feat up until this point was that he played Fortnite on his livestream with popular rapper Drake, musician Travis Scott, and Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

On Friday, September 21 a new Sports Illustrated magazine hit the newsstands. However, this wasn’t just a typical, run-of-the-mill, weekly issue of Sports Illustrated, on the cover there was a blue haired man wearing a bandana. This man was Ninja.

Many sports fans did not know who was on the cover. All they knew was that, since the cover said, “The legend of Ninja, biggest gamer in the world,” that he was not supposed to be there.

Twitter was very upset after finding out who was on the cover of the magazine.
A couple of the things people replied to this tweet with are that ESPN is losing credibility, sports require physical activity, and saying he’s not a ‘cover athlete.’

I agree with these angry fans in the sense that Ninja is not the best in his profession, just because he’s the most famous does not mean he’s the best. However, I also disagree with them.

Obviously, Ninja is not tackling Tom Brady, scoring a buzzer beater, or hitting a walk-off grand slam, but welcome to 2018.

It takes an extreme amount of skill to be as good as he is at the debatable sport, although he isn’t the best, only the most famous.

He is very talented at gaming and it is a competition for, sometimes, more money than some of the lower level ‘real athletes’ get paid.

The primary definition of sport is ‘an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.’ Nobody is arguing the fact that Ninja doesn’t have skill, they are upset about another part of that definition.

The one part of that definition that people keep debating is the physical exertion part. There is no clause attached to the words ‘physical exertion’ that says it has to be physical exertion on the whole body. Physical exertion, however small, is still physical exertion.

That is the only part of the definition where people seem to disagree. However, definitions change so who knows how fitting the definition of sports will be to professional gamers in 5 years.

Other angry fans were not upset at the fact that eSports were called sports. Quite a few people had an issue with only the fact that he was the ‘cover athlete.’ Many would have not had an issue if he was just featured somewhere in the magazine. It is the word ‘athlete’ that many people had a problem with.

Athlete is defined as ‘a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.’ This is the part of the argument where I’m wavering.

If you take the definition by what I see it as and limit it to ‘a person who is skilled in games requiring agility,’ then Ninja easily fits that category. However, if you take the word physical and distribute it to not only strength, but agility and stamina as well, then Ninja may not fit the category.

If it is meant to be the second case, then I believe that the definition of the word athlete is outdated. It should not be limited to just physical strength.

Mental strength should be accounted for when determining whether or not someone is an athlete. If it is the prior, then the current definition that gamers are technically athletes is correct.

Ninja was rightfully placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated as ‘cover athlete.’ Many fans of the magazine were left angry and many fans of gaming were ecstatic.

This could spark a change in the content that appears in sports magazines and on television networks.

PHOTO COURTESY: ORLANDO SENTINEL

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