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US Judge Rules Esports Doesn’t Count As Sport


Esports, despite its growing popularity and recognition, has been ruled as not a sport for purposes of Title IX by U.S. District Judge, Carlos Mendoza.

This ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by six members of Florida Institute of Technology’s (FIT) men’s rowing team against the university for alleged Title IX violations.

The university’s decision to eliminate men’s rowing team was at the centre of the lawsuit.

To prove their case, the rowers presented statistical evidence that highlighted the gender disparity in athletic opportunities, however, FIT argued that the addition of esports athletes and full-time undergraduates attending FIT’s online-only division in the data resulted in a tiny disparity of only three students or 0.16%, which wouldn’t constitute a violation of Title IX.

The rowers disputed the inclusion of esports in the calculations and contended that esports doesn’t meet the definition of a sport under Title IX.

Mendoza, in his ruling, agreed with the rowers and found that esports doesn’t require athletic ability, and there is no “e-sport national governing association” promulgating rules.

In contrast, Mendoza noted that cheerleading, a sport that was also at the centre of a lawsuit in 2012, was a “close call” for recognition as a sport, however, Mendoza argued that esports couldn’t be classified as a sport under Title IX.

The ruling has sparked a debate over the definition of a sport, with some arguing that the ruling is a missed opportunity to recognise esports as a sport.

Others have criticised the ruling, citing the growth of esports and its recognition by various organisations.

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