John Skipper, President of ESPN, commented on Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch.tv for roughly $1Billion by saying that video games (eSports) are not “real sports”. I tend to agree.
I’ve never thought of video games as a sport, just like I do not think of poker, chess, Magic the Gathering, or even Nascar as particularly sporty. When I think of sports I think of what’s in the Olympics or Soccer, Football, Basketball and Baseball. While some might disagree completely that racing cars is entirely sport-like, I think that still leaves a very large gap for DotA 2 to traverse.
To say that video games are not a sport doesn’t denigrate the games or the act of playing them — even competitively. Video games are a competition, a hobby, and entertainment — the best available, in my opinion. I’m not sure why players or those who enjoy watching eSports feel the need to vehemently defend the label. Does it make video games any less fun or enjoyable to watch because we can’t put them in the same category as a bunch of guys in shorts running back and forth throwing a ball into a hoop?
Skipper is getting flack for the comment because ESPN does indeed cover events like MTG, chess, Poker, and even DotA 2. Even though Skipper doesn’t see video games as sports, ESPN still sees them as something worth showing on their network. That alone says something and should be all the validation people need to continue calling this competitive show of skill, even “eSports”, whatever they want.
They’re not sports. Really, they’re not. But in the end they are awesome, take enormous amounts of talent, and clearly carry with them the ratings and the interest to be worth billions.