One of the criticisms that sim racing gets thrown at it is “It’s not a real sport”, along with the usual “It’s just a game”. Whilst the latter is correct, sim racing is no less a demonstration of skill than any real-life sport and the transferrable skill from rig to cockpit has been proven time and again, Jimmy Broadbent being the latest example in the Praga Cup. But can sim racing be classed as a sport? The dictionary definition classes sport as:
An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
So does sim racing qualify under those parameters? Let’s break it down and see.
An activity involving physical exertion – The critics will argue that “your turning a wheel and pushing some pedals, how hard can that be?”, and to that, I answer “race for 45 minutes and you’ll see for yourself”. The physical aspects of sim racing are directly comparable to real racing. Racing etiquette, racing line, braking points, and even down to the specific actions of “turning a wheel and pressing pedals” are all replicated as close to the real thing as the equipment that the driver is using. G-forces is the one area that sim racing cannot replicate, but it cannot be denied that sim racing requires physical exertion.
and skill – To drive along a road for an hour or two doesn’t feel particularly skilful, but there is a huge distinction between driving and racing. The amount of focus required to race without incident is huge, but all the focus in the world will not make a racer skilful, that takes time, practice and dedication to gain the skill to compete well, however this is subjective (what is skill to one driver is lame to another). What is irrefutable is that sim racing, particularly at a high level, has a requirement of skill.
in which an individual or team competes against another or others – This is the essence of sim racing, competing against other racers to see who is the best, identical to the real-life counterpart. Racing leagues are structured to find the best of the participants, and if you aren’t racing against an individual or team, you are either practising to compete against an individual or team, or you’re against the clock, which is then compared to the times of other individuals or teams.
for entertainment – We race because we have a love of racing. Commentators, broadcasters, officials, anyone involved in motor racing, virtual or real, all have a love for racing. This is then presented to the world in the form of streams, whether a driver is showing their race for their fanbase, or a league is presenting a race, the spectators all watch for the entertainment that a good race provides. Just because sim racing is an esport, this makes the racing no less authentic or entertaining.
So is sim racing a sport? Absolutely.