Gaming addiction a growing concern

Jesse Lingard with a Fortnite inspired celebration

A player from the English Football League (EFL) has spoken to SunSport about his struggle with a gaming addiction.

The anonymous player, who is out of contract in the summer, has said that gaming is jeopardising his career and relationships: “When I get back from training, the first thing I do is turn the Xbox on to play Fortnite.

“I play for about eight to ten hours a day, but I once played 16 hours non-stop the day before a match.

“When we have away matches and we travel by coach, I am gaming from the moment we leave and then I carry on in my hotel room at night.

“It is quite normal for me to stay up playing until two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning.

“I get a lot of eye strain, I am tired the next day and I miss training sometimes.

“When I started missing training, that was when I knew I needed help as I was getting in trouble from my club.

“This has been going on for about a year now.

“If I get told to come off the game, I am sometimes quite aggressive. I have mood swings.

“If I keep gaming, I worry that it could potentially finish my career.

“It is also affecting my relationship with my girlfriend because I play on the Xbox instead of seeing her.

He added: “I think some of my team-mates need help as well.

“About 50 per cent of our squad are into gaming.

“And I know they play for a lot of hours because I play Fortnite with them - as well as with players from other clubs.”

PFA Player Welfare officer, Jeff Whitley agrees that gaming is a growing concern: “Some clubs have rung up and asked us to go and speak to their players specifically about gaming addictions.

“Some lads aren't setting sensible boundaries.

"They are going back to their digs after training and playing from two in the afternoon to two in the morning and it is having an impact on their mental health."

Fortnite has around 250 million players worldwide, in the game’s ‘Battle Royale‘ mode, up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing and the user can play solo, as a duo or as part of a wider team.

A number of high-profile athletes in America have also recently spoken about the mental effects of being addicted to games such as Fortnite.

Former Fleetwood Town psychotherapist Steve Pope, believes that sportspeople can be attracted by the competitiveness, skill and speed:

“I don’t think clubs realise what a big problem this is and the debilitating effect excessive gaming has on a player’s psyche.

“Footballers have an addictive personality because that’s what makes them good at their job.

“Footballers are trained to be competitive and with the kind of games they are playing, Fortnite or Fifa, they are continually in a competition. It’s a follow on from playing football.

Getting support via the PFA…

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