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Shaq Reveals His True Feelings About Esports

Former professional basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, more commonly known as Shaq, has offered his thoughts on if esports players are athletes. As esports have become more popular in recent years, with the creation of more prominent leagues such as the Overwatch League and with the new competitive sport making an appearance at the 2020 Olympics. Still, people continue to debate if professional gamers should be considered athletes. Jake Lucky, the co-owner of Full Squad Gaming, shared a clip of Shaq's comments on Twitter, which make the basketball legend's opinion on the matter very clear.

When Lucky asked Shaq if he considers professional gamers athletes he said, "I do. And I wanna commend you guys and I'm proud of you guys." The basketball icon continued, saying, "Athlete means different things, but athlete means here," pointing to his head. Shaq went on to compare it to the time he tried to race against Dale Earnheart, which he considered to be one of the most difficult things he has ever done. Shaq went on to say that only 15% of being an athlete is physical, with everything else being mental. Shaw even used a common trend among esports players as a way of proving his point.

Esports players retiring at an early age is proof they are athletes, according to Shaq

Shaq continued on stating that esports and sports being primarily a mental task leads to esports players retiring at an early age. Shaq pointed out that the shelf life of an esports Athlete is in the 3 to 5-year range, and compared that to the NBA and NFL. This is true, considering some esports players have retired twice by the age of 26. All of this for Shaq to conclude by saying "So yes, you guys are athletes. If you guys say you're athletes I believe you because I can't do what you do."

While some people might disagree with Shaq stating that professional sports and esports are more about the mental aspect than the physical aspect, he raises some valuable points. Using racing as an example helps show that just because something doesn't seem physically tasking, doesn't mean it isn't. It also helps that Shaq, an all-time great NBA player, clearly knows what sports are and how mentally taxing competition can be. He also explained that most people cannot do what esports players do and certainly not at that level, making it highly competitive. While critics of esports might continue to say that esports not being physical means that gamers aren't athletes, just remember that those critics likely can't perform at the level of esports. Plus, who's really going to argue with Shaq?