Video games take plenty of heat for their supposed ill effects on health, but a recent comment from former Major League Baseball player and current NRG Esports investor Alex Rodriguez took things farther than most. While calling a recent MLB game, Rodriguez made the bizarre claim that the current generation of kids would die before their parents due to playing esports.
All sorts of health problems have been blamed on video games, usually with little or no evidence. Some of the most persistent, and certainly the most spurious, claims are those that say video games can cause mental illness and violent behavior despite plentiful evidence to the contrary. That’s not to say that gaming can’t have any negative consequences if the hobby is taken too far, though. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization voted to recognize gaming addiction in the 2022 edition of the International Classification of Diseases - a move that generated controversy even among the group’s members. Specifically, the diagnosis would apply to those whose gaming gets out of control and begins to interfere with the rest of their lives.
Like almost any other recreational activity, gaming could be harmful if it takes over someone’s entire life, and spending hours inside playing video games is unarguably less physically beneficial than spending the same amount of time playing sports or doing any other form of exercise. That’s a far cry from the claims Rodriguez made, though. Esports consultant Rod “Slasher” Breslau tweeted a video Sunday night in which Rodriguez claims that “this is the first generation of kids that will not outlive their parents” due to spending too much time playing video games. The comment seems to come out of nowhere, as Rodriguez segues out of a conversation about baseball players retiring, and his fellow hosts don’t engage with his remark.
tonight while casting baseball @AROD said dumb things— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 19, 2019
"this is the first generation of kids that will not outlive their parents. to think there's more kids today playing esports than physical sports...kids today too many times decide to sit inside and play video games" @bkoo pic.twitter.com/Lp1aKA5jys
Aside from the sheer strangeness of Rodriguez’s claim, what’s most striking is that he's an investor in NRG Esports, which fields teams in several popular esports. NRG Esports also counts athletes such as Marshawn Lynch, Michael Strahan, and Ryan Howard among its investors. Like any sports team, esports organizations are well aware of the need to keep players healthy, investing in physical trainers and team doctors to make sure that members don’t suffer the negative consequences of long hours of sitting and performing repetitive tasks that can arise from excessive gaming sessions.
It’s not entirely surprising that a former professional athlete would take issue with kids spending more time playing video games than playing outside as he presumably did at their age. That doesn’t excuse Rodriguez for using his position to spread false information to his listeners, though. Setting aside the reductive idea that all esports players are “kids,” it also raises questions as to why he would willingly invest in an organization that he thinks is killing the people it represents.
Source: Rod Breslau/Twitter