they can at leat get away with calling their activities: sports. But it doesn’t make them athletes. Any kind of competition where you don’t use your legs for anything is no kind of an athletic event. There is a certain kind of physicality that must train the majority of your muscles to turn you into an athlete.
Whether you are sitting in a car that propels you at 200 mph or if you sit and stare at a computer screen, it is not an athletic event. It’s a strategic event that does require some endurance, but at the level of athletic endurance.
The definition of an athlete may be perceived differently between people. Some people will call walking exercise, when I don’t really consider it exercise. I think walking up hills is exercise, but flat ground walking is no physical challenge. This is my warped view of physical exercise, and you can see I think the physical demands need to be fairly high for a sports game to consider the players as athletes.
Some League of Legends players say they can train for over 12 hours a day. If they can go that long, they are not engaging in any physical activity. No real athlete could effectively exercise for that long. Usually the athletic event requires strong bursts of energy and then you are spent at the end. There is no moment in an eSports game that requires a strong burst of energy.
If anything, these couch potato sports players are leading themselves into early graves. Remember the study that proves that bus drivers tend to get heart attacks well before the trolley drivers? It’s the difference between sitting and standing. Both people will undergo similar stressful activities, but the trolley drivers are just a little more physical on their feet and in better health.
These eSports players are not going to be very healthy by sitting and stressing themselves out for 12 hours per day. They will never build the physical appearance of an athlete. They don’t look like athletes. The athlete will have a good muscle tone appearance. You don’t see any muscular NASCAR drivers or eSports players. They don’t benefit by working any muscles, and the the brain is not a muscle.