By Gary Brode, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Dozens of fans showed up to Boston Sports Grille Friday night to cheer on their team. Not the Sox, Celtics or Pats. They were there for the Boston Uprising. An esports squad who plays the video game Overwatch.

The question, “Did you catch the game?” Doesn’t usually apply to video games. But it’s starting too.

A video game or a sport?

esports Study: Esports Are Nearly As Popular As Football

Boston Uprising fans watch match at Boston Sports Grille (WBZ-TV)

Caroline Lares is a Boston Uprising Fan. “It’s not a real sport,” she says she hears. “We get that a lot.”

Whatever it is, it’s catching on. It’s called an esport. Gamers compete and tens of thousands watch. Some at a bar but mostly on video streaming sites like YouTube.

Boston Uprising fan Andrew Merriman says, “I personally don’t see the difference between watching them play Overwatch, Counterstrike, Dota, League of Legends or football, baseball, hockey or basketball.”

lare Study: Esports Are Nearly As Popular As Football

Caroline Lares, Boston Uprising Fan (WBZ-TV)

A study from UMass Lowell polled more than 500 14-21 year olds. Forty percent of those teens and young adults said they are football fans, 38% said they like esports.

Lares explains her fandom, saying, “It’s fun because it’s a game that I can go home and play afterwards.”

The other sports world has noticed. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also owns the Uprising.

Merriman says, “I like watching competition and being that we have a Boston team, that’s going to be the team I root for.”

Another recent study found consumers spent $16.5 billion in 2015. Not on the games, but accessories to the games. So it may be an expensive hobby but it also can be a lucrative career. The minimum salary for a member of the Boston Uprising is $50,000, but some gamers can make about a half a million dollars per year.

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