Game Theory: Why ESPN is WRONG about eSports

Why ESPN is WRONG about eSports

Last year, ESPN's John Skipper stated that esports are "not a sport" and that on ESPN he's interested in doing "real sports." Today we're on a crusade to prove that Esports and games like League of Legends, Smite, and DOTA can stand toe-to-toe with the NFL, NBA, and the rest of the traditional ESPN roster. Not only do these games require the same rigor and commitment as traditional sports, but the structure of Esports as a whole has even started to look and feel like traditional sports leagues, with everything from internationally-recognized athletes to team sponsorships to league tournaments. It's time for Esports to get the recognition they deserve!

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I think Skipper may be confusing "traditional sports" with "real sports".

However, I don't think demonstrating other events they've had on their channels that weren't traditional sports is really a point. They've also portrayed e-sports like you mentioned at the start so there's no banning of e-sports even if their focus is going to remain on traditional sports.

I think it's fairly clear that e-sports is not a traditional sport. I think this is because you don't have to be an athlete to compete in them. Is e-sport a sport? Sure. But what most of mankind thinks of when you use the term "sport" is athletic sport that is absent of digital analogs except where officiating is concerned. I certainly do not blame people for adhering to the common vernacular when discussing sports even if the text book definition would allow e-sports in many cases.

I personally just think of ESPN as the competition channel though. Who the hell could argue that MOBAs aren't competitive?

This was truly a great, informative and funny video. Thanks for posting!

Yeah, let's give gaming the respect it deserves so that hyper-competitive assholes can ruin it like they did sports!

Well this comes a bit late. It was widely reported last week that ESPN is hiring an eSports producer now.

Don't forget the corruption! That's the important part.

Lightknight:
I think Skipper may be confusing "traditional sports" with "real sports".

However, I don't think demonstrating other events they've had on their channels that weren't traditional sports is really a point. They've also portrayed e-sports like you mentioned at the start so there's no banning of e-sports even if their focus is going to remain on traditional sports.

I think it's fairly clear that e-sports is not a traditional sport. I think this is because you don't have to be an athlete to compete in them. Is e-sport a sport? Sure. But what most of mankind thinks of when you use the term "sport" is athletic sport that is absent of digital analogs except where officiating is concerned. I certainly do not blame people for adhering to the common vernacular when discussing sports even if the text book definition would allow e-sports in many cases.

I personally just think of ESPN as the competition channel though. Who the hell could argue that MOBAs aren't competitive?

I agree. I think to really qualify as a traditional sport there really needs to be full athletic ability, not some specialized part. I barely allowing things like NASCAR to be a traditional sport(You need endurance to drive in 140F temperatures for hours at a time). While as bowling is not a traditional sport. Although people should have no problems ESPN broadcasting competitions other that traditional sports. Hell they even broadcast Chess vs machines.

Just comparing ABC to Twitch is a little deceptive. The Superbowl might be broadcast on ABC in the US, but it's broadcast over much of the world on different channels, so you can't really compare to the two. The last Superbowl set the viewership record at 114.4 million, which is over 4 times the viewership ABC had. Doesn't diminish ESports popularity, it's just a little disingenuous to compare the two.

Anyway, I've always hated this "is it a sport?" debate, because if you begin to split hairs and really go crazy with the logic, you can essentially consider anything to be a sport or not a sport. "Is it a physical activity?" doesn't really work because technically ANYTHING is a physical activity (even just sitting there and breating) and anything requires some sort of brain power to do. Basically, anything that is competitive and not determined solely by luck can be considered a "sport".

Though I will admit that the thought of labeling something that actually makes you MORE out of shape the more you do it as a 'sport' does seem kind of counter-intuitive, but again, the label of sport is so vague that you can essentially make it mean anything.

Ihateregistering1:
Just comparing ABC to Twitch is a little deceptive. The Superbowl might be broadcast on ABC in the US, but it's broadcast over much of the world on different channels, so you can't really compare to the two. The last Superbowl set the viewership record at 114.4 million, which is over 4 times the viewership ABC had. Doesn't diminish ESports popularity, it's just a little disingenuous to compare the two.

Anyway, I've always hated this "is it a sport?" debate, because if you begin to split hairs and really go crazy with the logic, you can essentially consider anything to be a sport or not a sport. "Is it a physical activity?" doesn't really work because technically ANYTHING is a physical activity (even just sitting there and breating) and anything requires some sort of brain power to do. Basically, anything that is competitive and not determined solely by luck can be considered a "sport".

Though I will admit that the thought of labeling something that actually makes you MORE out of shape the more you do it as a 'sport' does seem kind of counter-intuitive, but again, the label of sport is so vague that you can essentially make it mean anything.

Jeah and when you start arguing only about semantics, you know you're running out of arguments. We can just label everything as competition and be fine with that.
Chess, Dart, Bowling and Golf aren't really heavily athletic sports but they're competitions. All Billard versions too, and all of these get broadcasted too, because there's an audience that enjoys them.

The aversion to broadcast esports is just the typical "eeww, something new and diffrent" reaction and the best course of action for the fans is just to not back down. Others will only take your thing serious, if you do it yourself. Don't plead for recogintion, just do your own thing and the rest follows automatically.
Riot and co. apparently knew this and just went and did their own thing, because they took their game serious and weren't afraid if someone thinks it's silly. People usually respect such a behavior and apparently it worked.

I think competitive gaming is going to find itself slotted in with the likes of poker, darts and snooker - activities that take great amounts of skill, practice, and dedication but that are still not formally recognised as 'sports' in-so-far as the Olympic committee or other governing bodies are concerned. This doesn't belittle or demean gaming in any way, but if games that have been widely played for over 200 years are still struggling to be accepted as 'sports' rather than 'games' we shouldn't hold our breath for competitive gaming.

I can't wait till a trading system is implemented. I would love to see a great LoL player get traded for three mediocre ones. Perhaps they can even add in farming systems and double and triple A leagues to train and call players up.

If esports want to be recoginzed as a real sport it needs to implement systems other sports have.

Ihateregistering1:
Just comparing ABC to Twitch is a little deceptive. The Superbowl might be broadcast on ABC in the US, but it's broadcast over much of the world on different channels, so you can't really compare to the two. The last Superbowl set the viewership record at 114.4 million, which is over 4 times the viewership ABC had. Doesn't diminish ESports popularity, it's just a little disingenuous to compare the two.

The bit comparing how e-sports teams enter their league (qualify through play-in tournaments) vs. how NBA teams enter (buy membership in the NBA) is also misleading. Most non-USA leagues (particularly soccer) have promotion-relegation, where the worst teams in the league each season are kicked out and replaced with winning teams from a lower league. And even within USA-based leagues, teams have minor league affiliates. So lots of people play at various levels, and the ones good enough to compete at the highest levels eventually work their way up there.

Maphysto:
Yeah, let's give gaming the respect it deserves so that hyper-competitive assholes can ruin it like they did sports!

I wouldn't say competition "ruined" sports, there's just a clear division between professional athletes and a couple of friends having fun.

This division is less clear in videogames, however, and I think that is having an adverse effect on how people play them and treat their fellow gamers. League of Legends is the infamous example I've had plenty of experience with, where even outside of ranked matches some people will get up in arms over the performance of other players and insult them, even when there's nothing at stake.

UberPubert:

Maphysto:
Yeah, let's give gaming the respect it deserves so that hyper-competitive assholes can ruin it like they did sports!

I wouldn't say competition "ruined" sports, there's just a clear division between professional athletes and a couple of friends having fun.

This division is less clear in videogames, however, and I think that is having an adverse effect on how people play them and treat their fellow gamers. League of Legends is the infamous example I've had plenty of experience with, where even outside of ranked matches some people will get up in arms over the performance of other players and insult them, even when there's nothing at stake.

Yeah, that's exactly my problem with it. I enjoy the gameplay of MOBA's, but the hostility and elitism of their playerbases is so repellent that it ruins the game for me. So there's basically an entire genre of games that I would enjoy, but can't play because of how toxic they've become.

Lightknight:
I think Skipper may be confusing "traditional sports" with "real sports".

I'd say pretty much everyone over 50 confuses what's "traditional" with what's "real". Or maybe it's just a conservative thing.

ExileNZ:

Lightknight:
I think Skipper may be confusing "traditional sports" with "real sports".

I'd say pretty much everyone over 50 confuses what's "traditional" with what's "real". Or maybe it's just a conservative thing.

Well, to be fair, conservative and people over 50 aren't entirely different things. But this is a generally good point. Though I'd say that all political affiliations have their own logic that basically calls what they believe right and everything else wrong.

 

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