Many parents have serious trepidation when it comes to video games, fearing that the content will lead to violent impulses, inactivity and anti-social behavior for their kids. Meanwhile, traditional sports like tennis, soccer and basketball often are viewed as positive character-building activities that teach values such as hard work and leadership.
But don’t write off the emerging world of competitive video games — often referred to as eSports — for your kids. Instead, listen to the them and engage.
That’s the word from former basketball star Rick Fox, who won three NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and now is the owner of professional eSports franchise Echo Fox.
Fox, who appeared on stage at the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit Thursday alongside Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck, noted the positive attributes of eSports, drawing parallels to his own career in the NBA.
“When you think of what today’s eSport athlete looks like, it is your son, it is your daughter. They want to compete,” said Fox, noting that people supported him when he chose basketball as his preferred sport as a kid. That same support system should exist for those kids who hold a passion for video games, and that support should start with parents, he said.
Here’s more of what Fox had to say on that matter:
“My son is a game designer. He started off wanting to be a professional eSport athlete. He has become a game designer, and just living in that world and that passion has led him to find where in the industry is his niche. And that is exciting as a parent because we all want our kids to do simply what they are passionate about because then we will fill confident they will move on in life and do what they want. My son is doing that, and your kids can do that, too.
As I say to all parents that ask me: ‘what is this eSports thing?’ Keep an open mind, keep an open heart to your kids. They are going to communicate to you. Instead of saying put down the controller or the mouse and get out of the house — that’s fine, too, right, there is balance — sit down with them because they will start to speak the language that you guys can speak, because I guarantee that all of you have played video games…. Listen to them. That’s why I am in eSports because I listened to my son.”
Related: Riot Games co-founder Brandon Beck and NBA champ Rick Fox hope more women join male-dominated world of eSports
Fox said that eSport athletes face many of the some obstacles and challenges of traditional athletes. In fact, it was after attending a sold-out eSports event at Madison Square Garden a few years ago that Fox said he quickly became hooked.
“It was there that I experienced everything that I experienced for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics,” said Fox, who purchased Echo Fox in 2015.
eSports is a growing phenomenon, attracting an especially young demographic. In 2016, more than 40 million people tuned in to the League of Legends world championship.