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Does eSports Really Need ESPN?


By  Aaron Arnold

Recently, The CEO of ESPN made it clear that video games will never be a sport. According to Re/, The CEO of ESPN, John Skipper, mentioned that, “{eSports} not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition….Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.”  Obviously this could result in a, “His thoughts are old and antiquated.” argument. Which sounds about right as Re/Code also quotes him on saying that Millennials will eventually move from web based television and return to cable (Because we absolutely love advertisements). But, in the event that his age isn’t affecting his judgment, can we look at his statement deeper?

For Mr. Skipper (I will continue referring to him as Skipper because it’s funny), Chess and Checkers and the like aren’t sports. Chess and Checkers are excellent examples of good game design. They’ve both stood the test of time, they both teach strategic thinking and they’re perfect games that haven’t been patched in years. But years ago, games like these games had a high standing in society. Ancient Greeks viewed board games as proper training for the battlefield. The Summer Olympics features: Archery, track and field and wrestling. Those three activities also fall into the realm of preparing athletes for life in society where you have to hunt, run from hostility or defend yourself at any moment. Years ago these games were training for real life.

Mr. Skipper (I can’t stop giggling) also says that games are merely competition. He is also very much half correct. Competition is defined as:

To try to get or win something (such as a prize or reward) that someone else is also trying to win

Webster’s dictionary

While a game can have competition, competition does not preclude gaminess. Minecraft, the Sims and Solitaire are games where there is no competition. But Football, Basketball and League of Legends certainly fits this definition.


Skipper… Skip…. Skippy… Mr. Skip-to-my-loo lastly states that he’s interested in “real sports.” And just like that, he’s won. If you’re looking for the definition that separates a Sport from a Game is the fact that a sport requires physical exertion as well as skill.

But don’t be dismayed by Skip. He has, in fact, allowed the DOTA 2 finals to be transmitted to homes everywhere via ESPN 2. But one has to wonder, do we need ESPN? Do we as a culture depend on cable television for that matter? The current trend of television viewership is declining as the quality of good television has gone up. More and more people are tuning into streaming services that have gained legitimacy with Golden Globe award winning shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black premiering as Streaming Only television shows. And the final nail in the coffin is the viewership data from Twitch showing that, for a website so young, it has more viewers than many cable networks, including ESPN.





About Armand (1271 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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