Kurt Benkert — Twitch partner, member of Ghost Gaming, and NFL quarterback for the Green Bay Packers — hit back at the stigma surrounding gaming, and even credited GameBattles with helping to sharpen his competitive drive as an athlete.
Gaming has unquestionably come a long, long way from its earliest days. What was once considered by many to be a hobby reserved for “geeks” or “nerds” is now something that nearly ever child, teenager, and young adult partakes in on a regular basis.
A wider cultural appeal has been helped in large part by athletes. Whether its MLB pitcher Trevor May streaming Apex Legends, or Bronny James appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated decked out in FaZe Clan apparel, the mainstream spotlight on gaming has never been brighter.
NFL quarterback Kurt Benkert — also a Twitch partner and content creator for Ghost Gaming — is another pro athlete who puts gaming front-and-center in life. During a press conference with the Packers, Benkert extoled his love of gaming, and hit back at the stigma that often still surrounds it.
How competive gaming started for me.
S/O to @GameBattles
I’m glad the stigma on gaming has changed https://t.co/fgPvhaNwJY
— Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert) August 7, 2021
While fielding questions from media reps, Benkert was asked about his connections to esports — specifically, how he first got involved in the world of gaming. “I used to love video games as a kid,” he began, laughing to himself.
Benkert explained that during high school, he discovered GameBattles (a site for organizing matches against other like-minded players) and fell in love with the competitive side of gaming: “That’s where it started for me, [as] another way to be competitive outside of football.”
While attending college at the University of Virginia, Benkert’s love affair with gaming almost fizzled out. “I didn’t tell anybody about it because everyone looked at it [like] ‘If you played video games, you didn’t care about what else you were doing’,” he confessed.
Fortunately, the quarterback believes that the stigma against gaming has largely changed “for the better,” and after a friend convinced him to start streaming on Twitch, the rest is history: “It’s changed my life.”
— NYSL Clayster (@Clayster) August 7, 2021
Benkert’s ode to his gaming roots quickly caught steam on social media, with plenty of figures from the gaming community chiming in with their support. James ‘Clayster’ Eubanks, Call of Duty pro for the New York Subliners, responded to a clip of Benkert’s comments with his own seal of approval.
Ryan ‘Fwiz’ Wyatt — head of YouTube’s gaming division — was another strong supporter of Benkert’s comments, and voiced his own appreciation for the QB. “Great to hear Kurt breaking the gaming stigma, which is far overdue! Glad he played GameBattles with us OGs!”
Even other pro athletes tossed their hats in the ring with Green Bay’s newest quarterback. Fellow NFL player Will Compton responded “Let’s f**king go,” reaffirming that Benkert is far from alone when it comes to pro athletes with an appreciation for esports and gaming.
— Will Compton (@_willcompton) August 7, 2021
Benkert is just one of an ever-growing lineup of pro athletes who’ve made a name for themselves in the space, and with credentials like the support of Ghost Gaming and his partnership with Twitch, he’s definitely backed up his verbal appreciation for gaming with action.
The worlds of gaming and mainstream media continue to blur, and with massive partnerships like Faze Clan teaming up with McDonald’s and Ariana Grande holding a massive virtual concert in Fortnite, it certainly seems that stories like Benkert’s will continue to become more frequent and accepted.