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ESPN boss: “eSports not a sport”

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A little over a month ago, I told you that ESPN was going to be expanding their eSports coverage. They obviously liked all the attention they got during The International, but did it also mean more acceptance for eSports? Well, not exactly.

When asked for comment on Amazon’s deal to buy Twitch, ESPN President John Skipper was quite direct on the subject:

It’s not a sport — it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.

Okay, so not a sport but competition. But what about the other stuff that ESPN shows, like eating competitions and the world series of poker? How does that fit into his idea of promoting sports instead of competition?

Unfortunately, I think this just goes to show that eSports still has a long way to go before it’s accepted as mainstream. ESPN will probably still boost their eSports showings – they want the ratings after all. However, it’s interesting to see that the big boss isn’t interested in it. I just wish that the interviewer had pressed to find out which “real sports” he wants to see more of and which ones he thinks can be scrapped from the channel.

The DGC is almost upon us, and we know that tons of people will be taking part. It’s one of the largest competitions we see in this country, and it will probably only get some quick mentions on the evening news, if that. Would you like to see it broadcast on Super Sport? Can you imagine a future where that’s possible, or should we just change our expectations for eSports to go mainstream?

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Last Updated: September 8, 2014


  1. Sir Rants A Lot: On Pandora

    September 8, 2014 at 10:40

    It’s not a physical sport.

    It falls in the same category as chess, checkers, poker etc. So I agree there. But by saying it’s not a “real” sport is a bit nasty and unprofessional


    • jaction10

      September 8, 2014 at 11:03

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    • Grant [_G_] Hancock

      September 8, 2014 at 11:11

      So a ‘Mind Sport’ ? *runs away*


    • Sith JJ

      September 8, 2014 at 11:22

      That’s what I’m thinking.
      And if you’ve every played The Forest, by the tension pains in your back afterwards it feels like a physical game.


  2. Ryanza

    September 8, 2014 at 10:44

    Real sports hey.

    Shot put – how far can you throw the Xbox One console.


  3. PERSONA 5!!!! (Umar)

    September 8, 2014 at 10:44



  4. Kensei Seraph

    September 8, 2014 at 10:47

    I imagine this guy is like Mr. Torgue, but with better editors.


  5. Hammersteyn

    September 8, 2014 at 10:49

    At least John is aware of Esports, plus if he sees how many people watches it,it would be silly not to show it. They would need new commentators though.


  6. SlagywaG

    September 8, 2014 at 10:49

    Why does his opinion even matter?


    • Hammersteyn

      September 8, 2014 at 10:51

      Because he kinda has a say on what ESPN broadcasts?


  7. Alien Emperor Trevor

    September 8, 2014 at 10:51

    Well I still don’t believe it’s a sport. While there’s definitely serious skilled involved in being competitive, the world you’re playing in has clearly defined rules for all actions & there’s little room for random chance affecting those rules. Dealing with chance is what separates a sport from a game for me.


    • Dutch Matrix

      September 8, 2014 at 10:55

      Wot about during a Call of Duty match an opponent sneezes and his aim goes way off, allowing you a kill shot and so win the thing for your team?
      Is that not chance? :Edit: Not fighting, just asking.


      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        September 8, 2014 at 10:57

        Yes, but not the point I was making about game systems.


      • Sith JJ

        September 8, 2014 at 11:24

        Most of my BF kills are by chance, but that’s not what I tell people.


        • Spaffy

          September 8, 2014 at 12:20

          So true lol


    • Rinceable

      September 8, 2014 at 11:16



  8. Rags

    September 8, 2014 at 10:52

    That is wrong with it viewed as a competition and not as a sport? Why does this make him less accepting of esport? What is this an obstacle to becoming mainstream? Competitions like SWOP can have both their support and mainstream coverage.


  9. Robert Hart

    September 8, 2014 at 11:09

    “Okay, so not a sport but competition. But what about the other stuff that ESPN shows, like eating competitions and the world series of poker? How does that fit into his idea of promoting sports instead of competition?”

    I think the fact that they show those things on their channels means that they will still take “eSport” seriously. At least as seriously as they take those odd things.

    IMO I see “eSport” as a category that houses potential sports. Physical sport is not a sport in its own. Physical sport is a category housing numerous sports. In the eSport category, “Dota 2” on its own would be a sport.

    When people speak about football, they dont refer to it as physical sport. They call it football. We need to do the same for our esports. Call Dota 2, Dota 2.


  10. Thats_how_I_Troll

    September 8, 2014 at 11:13

    But kinect Sports…. SPERTS I Tell ya!


  11. Sith JJ

    September 8, 2014 at 11:21

    That “sports” in eSports is very misleading.


  12. Ross Woofels Mason

    September 8, 2014 at 11:48

    I agree it’s not sport. That’s why the coin E-sport was coined. Don’t see anything wrong with drawing a separation between the two.

    In all honesty as well I don’t want to see my E-sports on main stream networks like ESPN. Twitch does a bang up job and unless we can get a network station that is run by people who understand and enjoy playing video games we are going to end up with all the corporate crap that actual sports casts deal with.

    Something just to touch on but to pivotal is something like foul language. I know these days most of the high class streams especially for big events try to keep a cap on the language but if someone goes “OH HOLY SHIT!” it’s not the end of a the world and big omg they swore on a live television broadcast scandal.

    I quite enjoy seeing and hearing commentators loose their nut and composure.

    If big corporate broadcasting networks start getting involved in this, personally I think it would end up killing the hype a-little.


  13. NickTheEagle

    September 9, 2014 at 09:01

    Rage games should be shown on supersport 🙂


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