The International eSports Federation has partnered with the world sanctioning body for track and field in a publicity venture that the IeSF hopes will lead to eSports taken more seriously by the public as a competitive sport.
The International Association of Athletics Federations and the IeSF teamed up in a program called Athletics for a Better World, which encourages fitness and training programs for all gamers. The IeSF said it hopes the program battles the stereotype of gaming as a pursuit of the lazy and out-of-shape.
Further, "The IeSF wants eSports to be taken seriously as a competitive sport," the federation said in a statement.
For its part, the IAAF said competitive gaming and athletics have plenty in common. "Many of the qualities needed by a professional gamer are integral to the world of athletics," said Nick Davies, the general secretary and communications director for the IAAF. "Representatives from both sports are put under immense pressure to consistently perform at the highest level on an international stage."
"The IeSF wants eSports to be taken seriously as a competitive sport"
eSports has grown in mainstream acceptance of late (though some remain unconvinced.) The U.S. State Department in 2013 began issuing professional gamers the same types of visas offered to high-level athletes coming to train and compete in the country.
ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports television programming, recently televised a collegiate Heroes of the Storm competition on one of its cable channels, and last year broadcast Dota 2's The International via its Internet-only channel. Valve estimated some 20 million watched altogether.
The International itself is an event that filled the 17,000-seat Key Arena in Seattle, drawing top competitors from all over the world with a $10 million prize pool. This year's tournament is back at the same stadium, and will be held Aug. 3-8.