The New "Sport" Of The Century?

Shooting hoops: it's great exercise. But as a sport … it's so last century.

In South Korea, the new athletes of the 21st century are gladiators with nationwide TV audiences. They have names like Emperor or God of Destruction - and screaming fans a rock star would envy.

Their implements of battle: a nimble mind. Two players squaring off on a computer game, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports.

The most popular is Starcraft, with multi-layer strategies that would challenge Napoleon and demanding tactics that only end when the opponent's army is destroyed.

"The feeling that I have when I win is indescribable," said professional gamer Jea Dong Lee.

Lee and others call themselves professional athletes - playing for one of 12 teams.

The best earn hundreds of thousand of dollars and have fans who swoon for autographs.

"I like his playing style," one fan said. "I really love him!"

At home or in the country's 26,000 cybercafés, online gaming is a national pastime.

South Korea has so many people online because so many people can be. This is the most wired nation in the world. About 94 percent have broadband connections. That compares to only about half in the United States.

But turning a pro is not fun and games. At Team Lecaf, they eat here, sleep here, and train from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., seven days a week.

It's dedication that leads head coach Jung-Woong Cho to predict that someday his athletes will be as well known as Brett Favre or Tiger Woods.

So parents: If you want your kids to be rich and famous in this century's new sport, you'll have to make those hated computer games the new homework.
  • Barry Petersen

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