One of the big differences between esports and physical sports is the kind of body required to play them. You don’t have a disadvantage in esports just because you’re too short to touch the rim or too small to take a hit from a 300-pound linebacker. The inherent genetic differences that provide advantages and disadvantages in sports in theory don’t exist for esports, or at least are not as pronounced.
Anyone can be the best at a video game, no matter their size, shape, or gender.
That’s a question many have asked before, and one that many have tried to answer. But Sood is offering up a tangible way to effect change and maybe find that answer: he will sponsor the first League Championship Series (LCS) team to field a woman in their starting lineup.
Of course, due to Riot rules, Sood’s company Unikrn is not technically allowed to sponsor an LCS team, which aren’t allowed to be associated with gambling. That’s certainly a prudent measure given the history of match fixing in esports and sports, but it won’t stop Sood. He’ll personally sponsor any team who meets his criteria.
The question, then, is why aren’t there many women at the top of esports?
That tweet seems to imply that teams are not willing to employ a woman, but the most obvious answer as to why there are none in the LCS is simple—there aren’t any who are good enough, yet.
In October 2012, Riot Games released an infographic listing that over 90 percent of their players are male. By that count, while women should be a rarity in the LCS, in a league with 10 teams of five starters each we should expect a full team of females in the LCS. But there are none
The reason for that is certainly complex and difficult to parse. Studies show that women are less likely to participate in competitive games, and that’s likely due to cultural, social, and societal pressures making it that way.
Sood’s resolution is little more than a drop in the bucket against the ocean of issues in gender relations, but at least he’s doing something. And he may not be too far off from paying off.
Of course, one isolated instance isn’t the change people like Sood want to see. But it’s a start.
Image via Riot Games