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Shaq praises pro esports players, believes they're real athletes

Shaquille O'Neal has massive respect for pro esports players and doesn't back down from calling them real athletes.
Shaq praises pro esports players, believes they're real athletes

Shaquille O'Neal shared his opinion about esports athletes in a recent interview with reporter Jake Lucky. While on the Full Squad tour bus, Jake got a positive and surprising response from the former basketball star.

Jake Lucky is currently touring around America in The Full Squad tour bus for two weeks, with the intent of meeting important people in gaming and esports and talking about its culture.

While most people do not associate Shaquille O'Neal with gaming and esports; however, on the contrary, Big Shamrock revealed that he is an avid gamer and an esports fan. His investment in NRG's Rocket League team is a small example of his association with gaming, notwithstanding his latest stance on the status of esports pros.

Big Shaq believes esports pros are real athletes

shaq on esports pros real athletes
Shaquille O’Neal playing on a PlayStation 4 at The White House. (Picture: Paperlyte / YouTube)

On 26th May 2022, Jake Lucky shared a brief excerpt of his interview with Shaq on Twitter. In the video clip, Jake asked the former American professional basketball player about his stance on whether professional esports players should be regarded as "athletes." Shaq was direct with his answer and said, "I do."

The Los Angeles Lakers star continued to explain his answer. He commended the esports players and said that he was proud of them. "Athlete means different things," Shaq added. According to him, being an athlete is more of a mental game than a physical one.

It's not uncommon to see esports athletes face tremendous mental pressure while active in the scene. Shaq mentioned that these players have a short career span because of the industry's high demands. He finished his answer with a beautiful quote: "If you guys say you are athletes, I believe you because I can't do what you do."

clinton loomis dota 2 fear ti
Clinton "Fear" Loomis playing Dota 2 at TI. (Picture: Valve / Flickr)

While esports involves primarily sedentary behavior (i.e., sitting), its recognition as a sport has been hotly contested. One reason is that most of the work in esports is mental, requiring exceptional reaction time and decision-making skills in a high-pressure environment.

Modern esports organizations recognize how important it is to stay physically healthy to perform optimally in video games. Although there are no strict guidelines on the physical aspect of esports players, these organizations take the initiative to look after players' physical fitness.

Indeed, esports might not be comparable to traditional sports. Still, we can draw many similarities between the two, which arguably makes it an entirely new genre of sports that are now being included in the Olympics.

For more amazing content, check out our section dedicated to esports news, updates, and more.


Featured image courtesy of Paperlyte via YouTube.