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eSports competitor granted pro-athlete visa

eSports competitor granted pro-athlete visa

Playing League of Legends now officially makes you an athlete, with pro-gamer Danny Le being the first eSports competitor to be granted a P-1A visa.

A League of Legends player has become the first eSports competitor to qualify for a US P-1A 'professional athlete' visa, further legitimising computer gaming as a genuine sport.

Danny Le, who plays the team-based title under the tag Shiphtur, hails from Canada's Edmonton - but recently joined a US team to further his career in professional gaming. Sadly, however, US immigration laws made that more difficult than it sounds: while an easily-obtained business visa allows for gamers to enter the country to play in a single event - and return home with their share of the prize money, should they remain victorious - they forbid the earning of a salary, which Le would be paid as a team member.

The solution: the P-1A visa, a temporary employment visa granted under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(P), Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to athletes, artists and entertainers and their families. Under the P-1A visa, an athlete can enter the country and earn a living so long as they do so to join a group also entering the country or already resident.

Competition for the P-1A visa is extremely fierce: a mere 25,000 visas are issued annually, and that figure includes P-4 visas granted to family members of those lucky enough to receive a P-visa. To quality, an athlete must have achieved 'international recognition' in the sport of their choice as well as demonstrating considerable talent, which is defined by the immigration services as 'having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country.'

For traditional athletes competing in high-profile events like the Olympic Games, that's no problem - but Le has become the first eSports gamer to qualify for a visa under P-1A regulations. According to the LA Times, the visa was granted as the league in which Le sought to compete enjoys revenues of more than $10 million per year.

'We had to show this was a profession,' Dustin Beck, vice-president of League of Legends developer Riot, told the paper. 'We had to make a case that this is just like Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League.'

The move marks growing acceptance for eSports as a legitimate profession and - for those who follow the events rather than compete - hobby, and Le's successful application for a P-1A visa has opened the floodgates: since his visa was granted on the 29th of May, several other eSports players have also had their own applications approved.

20 Comments

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will_123 12th August 2013, 10:44 Quote
I think there is a difference between this being a legit profession and them being athletes. They are professional gamers, not finely tuned rugby player there are large differences. Its clear that you can make lots of money doing this now, but athletes...im not buying that.
steveo_mcg 12th August 2013, 10:47 Quote
Quote:
further legitimising computer gaming as a genuine sport.

ITS NOT SPORT! Its no more sport than darts, snooker or tiddly winks. Its a skill game but it is a game! Don't get me started on calling them e-athletes...
GeorgeStorm 12th August 2013, 10:51 Quote
Some people consider a sport something which either requires physical dexterity, or mental skill, so this would apply.
Gareth Halfacree 12th August 2013, 10:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by will_123
I think there is a difference between this being a legit profession and them being athletes. They are professional gamers, not finely tuned rugby player there are large differences. Its clear that you can make lots of money doing this now, but athletes...im not buying that.
Depends how you define 'athlete.' The OED sayeth: 'a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.' Clearly, while you may need to exercise in order to get your reaction times and general health up to a pro-gamer level, playing LoL is not physical exercise - as draining as competitive gaming may be.

However, other dictionaries have other definitions. The Collins dictionary I have 'ere, for example, says 'a person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed, or endurance.' It could be argued that eSports requires endurance and speed, if not physical strength. Webster's says 'a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, coordination, stamina, or strength' - and, again, eSports requires coordination if none of the others.

In traditional British English, to be an athlete would be to compete in athletics - and no other sport. Thus, if we go for the traditional definition, eSports would be excluded - but so would footballers, rugby players, golfers, basically anyone not involved in track and field.

The word 'athlete' actually derives from the Greek āthleîn, which is one who competes for a prize. Thus, using the Greek definition, you could argue that entering the National Lottery makes one an 'athlete' in that one is competing for a prize.

My point? Damned if I know. I just like etymology.
will_123 12th August 2013, 10:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Quote:
Originally Posted by will_123
I think there is a difference between this being a legit profession and them being athletes. They are professional gamers, not finely tuned rugby player there are large differences. Its clear that you can make lots of money doing this now, but athletes...im not buying that.
Depends how you define 'athlete.' The OED sayeth: 'a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.' Clearly, while you may need to exercise in order to get your reaction times and general health up to a pro-gamer level, playing LoL is not physical exercise - as draining as competitive gaming may be.

However, other dictionaries have other definitions. The Collins dictionary I have 'ere, for example, says 'a person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed, or endurance.' It could be argued that eSports requires endurance and speed, if not physical strength. Webster's says 'a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, coordination, stamina, or strength' - and, again, eSports requires coordination if none of the others.

In traditional British English, to be an athlete would be to compete in athletics - and no other sport. Thus, if we go for the traditional definition, eSports would be excluded - but so would footballers, rugby players, golfers, basically anyone not involved in track and field.

The word 'athlete' actually derives from the Greek āthleîn, which is one who competes for a prize. Thus, using the Greek definition, you could argue that entering the National Lottery makes one an 'athlete' in that one is competing for a prize.

My point? Damned if I know. I just like etymology.

I agree it depends on how you define athlete I suppose. I did lots of sports as a youngster and still play rugby now. So that is probably why I see an athlete as somebody with physical attributes.
Phil Rhodes 12th August 2013, 12:03 Quote
US visa rules can seem alarmingly arbitrary at times. I know a few people who've gone over on O-1 visas as actors. One particularly skilled and experienced example fought for two years to get one, despite being what I considered to be a very deserving case, whereas someone else I'm aware of, who's rich enough to pay an immigration lawyer a lot of money, found it much easier.
theshadow2001 12th August 2013, 12:19 Quote
A definition of sport should require the participant to display a large degree of physical exertion. Or perhaps a ratio of calories per second used whilst participating.
vdbswong 12th August 2013, 12:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
A definition of sport should require the participant to display a large degree of physical exertion. Or perhaps a ratio of calories per second used whilst participating.

But the point isn't a debate about sports.

League and any other eSport isn't a sport... it's an eSport (hence the designation).

The debate is whether or not they qualify as athletes.
Alecto 12th August 2013, 15:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
Some people consider a sport something which either requires physical dexterity, or mental skill, so this would apply.

Eating pies or hot-dogs requires more physical and mental skill than playing computer games. I should know, I play computer games all the time (online, competitively) yet wouldn't ever be arrogant enough to consider this a "sport".
GeorgeStorm 12th August 2013, 15:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecto
Eating pies or hot-dogs requires more physical and mental skill than playing computer games. I should know, I play computer games all the time (online, competitively) yet wouldn't ever be arrogant enough to consider this a "sport".

I was just making a general point, and as others have said, it's an esport rather than a normal sport.

As far as I'm aware there is quite a lot of both mental and physical skill in a variety of games (physical more so when it comes to things like guitar hero/dance mat type games).
will_123 12th August 2013, 15:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alecto


Eating pies or hot-dogs requires more physical and mental skill than playing computer games. I should know, I play computer games all the time (online, competitively) yet wouldn't ever be arrogant enough to consider this a "sport".

Definitely I have had a few burgers that have tested both my mental and physical attributes.
lacuna 12th August 2013, 15:37 Quote
I like playing games but it is the antithesis of what my intepretation of 'sport' is.

Doesn't the internet make your physical location irrelevant for these competitions? If it doesn't then surely it should!
theshadow2001 12th August 2013, 17:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by vdbswong
But the point isn't a debate about sports.

League and any other eSport isn't a sport... it's an eSport (hence the designation).

The debate is whether or not they qualify as athletes.

Ok fine,

The definition of an athlete should include a requirement to display a large degree of physical exertion. Or perhaps a ratio of calories per second used whilst participating.

Anyway the point is these guys aren't athletes, although if they were coming into my country I wouldn't have a problem with them getting a VISA. Its all just a bit of legal loopholey nonsense in order to get them a visa.

Really what needs to happen is for esports to be categorised by the US to make it fit in with their current VISA policies.
DriftCarl 12th August 2013, 18:11 Quote
I consider an athlete as someone who is physically fitter than the average person, and works on their stamina, endurance AND fitness with the aim of improving their area of expertise.
and I am sorry but gamers are not included in that. You only have to go to a lan to see that half of the gamers are not fit and conditioned in any way at all.
I dont know why they have tried to merge esports with sports, they dont work together.
I would say nearly all athletes could run/wheel a marathon in a reasonable time, i doubt nearly all pro gamers could do the same.
Andy Mc 12th August 2013, 18:56 Quote
eSportsman would be the most accurate definition I think. They are not athletes.
DC74 12th August 2013, 21:07 Quote
I play games, some of them e-games and I'm in shape, Round is shape :P
fluxtatic 13th August 2013, 08:13 Quote
Any sport where you can be covered in Cheeto dust is my kind of sport. Bonus points if it leaves one hand free...for my Mountain Dew.
wafflesomd 13th August 2013, 21:36 Quote
OH COOL THE STUPID IT'S NOT A SPORT ARGUMENT AGAIN.
NaThRo 14th August 2013, 02:14 Quote
What's the problem...?
Quote:
a temporary employment visa granted under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(P), Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act to athletes, artists and entertainers...

They aren't claiming to be "athletes" they're "entertainers".
Gareth Halfacree 14th August 2013, 08:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NaThRo
They aren't claiming to be "athletes" they're "entertainers".
Actually, they *are* claiming to be athletes: the P-1A visa is granted to athletes, the P-1B visa to entertainers; same statute, different sections. As the players in question entered under P-1A, that means the US authorities consider them athletes, not entertainers.
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