June 11, 2020 / Esports / by Víctor Ignacio Villanueva Pereda
Nowadays the word esports is no longer totally unknown by the society of 2020, electronic games at a competitive level, both nationally and internationally, have taken an unprecedented direction reaching a global market value of millions of dollars.
More and more spectators, players, and teams are participating in the entire esports ecosystem, which is why in Mexico, there has been a great debate about whether Electronic Video Games should be considered as a formal sport; according to the General Law of Physical Culture and Sports, Article 5, Section V, sport is defined as a “physical activity, organized and regulated, which aims to preserve and improve physical and mental health and social, ethical, and intellectual development achieving results in competitions”; therefore, in my opinion, it clearly frames the definition of esports as a formal sport since absolutely all games involve cognitive and movement skills, which in turn are regulated by the same rules that each game establishes to be able to be operable.
Finally, derived from the above, last year the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (Conade) granted the Mexican Federation of Esports the Unique Registry of Sports, formally recognizing esports as a sport and a professional activity in Mexico so that said organization promote and be in charge of the creation of competitive state and national leagues; for example: amateur, college, pro-play, etc.
On the other hand, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also ruled on this debate, recognizing esports as a “sport activity” since in various competitions, all players have to train and prepare hard during a long time for the tournaments in the different video games that exist, so they suffer the agitation and stress to achieve victory that any other athlete suffers in “traditional sports”. Notwithstanding the foregoing, electronic games are still a long way from participating in Olympic competitions due to issues such as: Publishers (who have the formal rights of video games; they do not like that an institution is above them with their own rules, in addition to the economic issue); the seeking for a infringment avoidance to the Olympic values (war games or violence; for example: FIFA and NBA2K could be allowed); and that there is an organization guaranteeing the rules of the Olympic movement, in other words, that avoids and sanctions cheating conducts.
In the end, the importance of recognizing esports as a formal sport in Mexico lies in the fact that all players who are associated with a formal team or play at a competitive level are protected by the rights recognized to any other athlete. More specifically, regarding the Chapter X of the Federal Labor Law, where such provisions apply to professional athletes, consolidating their rights as workers. That is, what is sought is that in Mexico and in all countries, the activity of electronic video games be consolidated for their correct professionalization and competition in various competitions, even protecting players who are minors but who play in professional tournaments.
Some of the rights that this chapter includes, and that the players would obtain, would be the following:
- A formal employment relationship is recognized, therefore they become subjects of protection and rights recognized by the Federal Labor Law. Contracts or employment relationships could be made for an established time, for an indefinite period, for one or more seasons, or for the celebration of 1 or more events or functions.
- Salary and employment benefits. The salary may be stipulated per unit of time, for one or more events or functions, or for one or more seasons.
- Associated professional players may not be transferred to another company or club without their consent.
- Participation of the players in the bonuses or earnings for transfering between clubs or teams.
- Travel expenses for the various competitions.
- The clubs would have to organize and maintain a medical service that performs periodic examinations;
- Grant players one day off per week.
- Prohibition of clubs to require athletes to exert excessive effort that could endanger their health or life.
In conclusion, esports is still a market that urgently needs to be practically and legally regularized due to the amplitude and impact it has on new generations, which were already born with video games at this level. For this, many branches of Law such as Intellectual Property, Industrial Property, Labor, Civil, Commercial and even Fiscal would have to get along; because in the end what the market represents are copyrights, brands, sponsorships, advertising, contracts, provision of professional services, incorporation of companies, and tax payments.