Competitive eSports Gaming Nearly As Popular As Football Among 14 to 21 Year Olds

A new poll has been published by UMass Lowell-Washington Post that looked at the popularity of competitive gaming among young adults in the 14 to 21-year-old age range. The poll has found that among that group, e-sports are about as big and popular as football. A full 40% of people who fall into that age group says they are fans of football while 38% of the same group say they are also fans of e-sports.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Marco Verch)

This is a good thing for the popularity and growth of new e-sports leagues like The Overwatch League that launched in January. That league plays major matches in the former "The Tonight Show" studio in California. The matches are streamed all over the world for fans to watch and cheer on their favorite teams.

"The popularity of e-sports and online gaming among American teens and young adults as both a recreational activity that you participate in or can also watch reveals a shifting landscape for what constitutes a sport in American life. It is absolutely telling that the fan base for e-sports is just as large as the fan base for professional football among Americans ages 14 to 21," said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the poll with The Post. "The reasons teens and young adults give for participating in e-sports/online gaming mirror many of those given in our survey of adults 18 and older about why they watch live sports."

As for the reason why e-sports are so popular among that age group, one reason cited is because simultaneous gameplay can be supported by millions of users. The survey found that 59% of teens and young adults say they have either competed in a video game competition or played an online video game with multiple players in the last 12 months. In the same group, 58% say that they have watched people play games on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

E-sports are the most popular with young men; 89% of male teens and young adults have played online games, participated in competition, or watched others play in the last year. Only 1 in 10 males in the group had no interaction with online gaming in the last year. Among females in the 14 to 21-year-old range, 56% of them have played or watched games in the same period. Adults 18 and older count only 18% of the group among those who have played or watched multiplayer gaming in the last 12 months.

Friendship building is a common reason that Americans play video games according to the survey. "Teens and young adult gamers were more likely to say that they have made friends by playing competitive online video games (45 percent) than adults (32 percent)," the survey claims.

The survey results are from a probability-based survey of 522 teens and young adults with a plus or minus 6 percentage point margin of error. Data was collected by NORAC AmeriSpeak panel that is representative of the U.S. household population.