With the development of computer technology, new spheres are emerging that apply to the modern lifestyle. One of these spheres is cybersport, around which there are debates and discussions whether it is the sport of the future or just entertainment. The global audience for cybersports already exceeds 230 million people, which is quite comparable with the audience for other sports. It is necessary to consider the health criteria by which the two sports differ and analyze which one may seem more accessible or more useful.
Classic sports come with several stereotypes that have arisen in society. People who participate in professional sports are associated with good physical shape, proper nutrition, and bad habits. In addition, the average person’s understanding of athletes shapes social norms such as that a man should be firm and hardy and a woman thin and flexible (Galli, 2019). In addition, the use of tobacco or alcohol is often excluded because these habits are destructive to both the nervous system and the individual’s overall health. However, it is a stereotype that classical sports with physical exertion and regular training are beneficial. First of all, all-period exertion wears down body tissues such as joints and ligaments (Galli, 2019). For example, people who do ballet or athletics retire early (Galli, 2019). It is due to the wear and tear of the body, the appearance of deformities, and incorrectly healed muscle wounds.
To put it another way, it is not uncommon for ballerinas to suffer from foot deformities, knee, and hip pain, and for light athletes to develop varicose veins and thrombosis. As already noted, these are the consequences of grueling workouts that provide benefits and improve athletic performance, but in the long run, negatively affect the condition of the body (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020). Therefore, it is not possible to assert the specific benefits and harmlessness of a sports lifestyle.
It is necessary to consider the most prevalent health problems in professional athletes to break the stereotype of harmlessness:
- Cardiovascular system. The “sports heart” syndrome, when the heart muscle develops so much that it can pump 140-160 ml of blood (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020, p.97). For example, in an average person, this figure is 50-60 ml (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020, p.97). Athletes’ heartbeats may reach 180 beats per minute, while a person under extreme stress has only 130 beats per minute (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020, p.97). Under such overload, both the heart and blood vessels wear out very quickly, in a matter of years.
- Muscles and the spine. Almost all muscle groups, not counting the heart, are subjected to a considerable overload, along with tendons and joints. Cartilage tissue is subjected to particular stress – it wears down, and even a young athlete suffers from pain (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020).
- Injuries. Taking up professional sports is inevitably connected with getting injuries: because during training, the body is exposed to short-term periodic loads, which are on the verge of endurance, there is an extremely high risk that the musculoskeletal, nervous, or any other system will not be able to respond appropriately to the load received at a particular moment (Tenenbaum & Eklund, 2020). In the period of intensive training before the next competition, an athlete is forced to increase the intensity of training, which increases the risk of injury.
Unlike classic sports, cybersports are often not physically demanding. The first argument against computer sororities is spinal curvature, visual impairment, and poor nutrition, accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to note that this is a stereotype because it is necessary to develop and maintain the body’s cognitive functions to perform effectively in computer games (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). Proper nutrition and exercise improve the brain’s and blood circulation’s cognitive parts, speed up reactions, and generally help you react faster to what is happening in the game. Caffeine has a similar effect, and therefore various carbonated drinks can also improve players’ performance (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). Technically, this is true, but the problem is that the benefits are only noticeable over a brief period. In an hour after consuming caffeine, the body loses the received charge of vivacity, and fatigue replaces it. A new drink dose can numb it, but regular consumers may soon develop a tolerance to it. This weakens the effect of caffeine, and prolonged abstinence from it can lead to headaches, irritability, or digestive problems.
Caffeine also increases the body’s dehydration – that is, it accelerates fluid excretion, reducing reactions and other indicators. Jake Middleton, the founder of a company that researches the health of cyber athletes, has suggested an optimal menu for players (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). It includes only two main meals and gets the consumer to the match in optimal condition. Middleton offers eating oatmeal, a hard-boiled egg, grain toast with avocado, and a handful of blueberries two to three hours before matches (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). This breakfast will provide the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats and keep your sugar levels in check. It is not always possible to get fresh berries, but they are easy to replace, for example, with natural marmalade (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). Berries provide the player with a daily allowance of anthocyanins to improve vision (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). Thus, the harm to health is not as enormous as is commonly believed in society. Analyzing the issue from a practical point of view, it becomes apparent that most cyber athletes do not suffer from obesity or spinal curvature.
On the contrary, most of them are in great physical shape, have excellent eyesight, and do not suffer from body parts or circulatory disorders. The fact is that a critical part of cybersports is reaction and endurance training, which allows you to spend a significant amount of time strenuously (Billings & Shaw & Wiggins, et al, 2019). That’s why professional players engage in sports training to maintain a balance between mental and physical activity, not allowing the body to become exhausted.
Billings, A. C., Shaw, A., Wiggins, B. P., et al. (2019). Understanding esports. An introduction to the global phenomenon. Lexington Books.
Galli, N. (2019). Psychosocial health and well-being in high-level athletes. Taylor & Francis.
Tenenbaum, G., and Eklund, R. C. (2020). Handbook of sport psychology. Wiley.