Esports Quickly Catching Up With Football

By Matt Swenson, March 14, 2018

Are you ready for some… esports?

A new poll conducted by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, in conjunction with The Washington Post, finds video gaming is just as popular as football among 14 to 21 year olds.

To be specific, 40 percent of teenagers and young adults polled described themselves as football fans while 38 percent of the same demographic professed an affinity for esports. Moreover, 59 percent of 14 to 21 year olds have played a video game in the past year, and 73 percent have either participated in or watched a gaming competition. Gamers play a median amount of three to four hours per day.

“The popularity of esports and online gaming among American teens and young adults as both a recreational activity that you participate in or can also watch reveals a shifting landscape for what constitutes a sport in American life,” says Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the poll with The Post.

In good news for traditional sports, a majority of adults (78 percent) and youth (65 percent) still prefer to watch live athletics over gaming competitions. Of note is that 41 percent of 14 to 17 year olds voted for watching esports. “This appears to represent a fairly considerable difference in the sports viewing preferences among American teenagers,” the report says.

Driving the esports phenomenon is many view watching and playing video games as a social activity. About 55 percent of both adults and young adults say they enjoy watching with friends. An even higher percentage—80 percent teens/young adults and 78 percent of adults—say they play and watch esports as entertainment and fun.

Fifty percent of young men say they’ve made friends online, but the number drops to 36 percent for young women. The study traces the drop to another statistic: 53 percent of all respondents say women are treated with less respect than men in the video gaming community.

The study is based off results polling 1,000 adults 21 and older and 522 teens and young adults.

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