Video Games Are Not Sports, But They Deserve The Respect

It didn’t take long for “too cool to be a nerd people” to see the coverage and immediately jump to lame geek jokes galore. Yet one of the comments sticks out to me the most. ESPN’s Colin Cowherd stated that he would “quit his job if ESPN forced him to cover that.” You have most likely heard the story before (If not, here you go). So I won’t dive entirely into how stupid it is for a “sports journalist” to talk down to an entire industry he has no knowledge of. His job is to talk about sports, just like my job is to talk about video games, both provide the same level of entertainment for their respective audiences. I understand his job is to “rip” everything, but to disrespect an entire industry?

My real question though is why exactly is he throwing a fit about it? Looking at ESPN’s history this isn’t the first “non-sports” program they have ever aired. ESPN also airs Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, Bowling, and oh hey look another video game, Madden tournaments. Yes ESPN airs things like the “Madden Challenge” every year just before NFL football season starts. (Honestly they have had several specials revolving around Madden.) These normally consist of two things. Either they get NFL players to play the game, or they get the “best players” from Madden and have them square off. Was there a single sign of some journalist getting angry at any of those airing at any point? Nope, but wait one whole second here…. What is that I see? Cowherd actually HOSTED some of the Madden specials? Yep! He actually covered the “fan voting” for which athlete will appear on the cover for several years. I mean he talks about how silly covering a game event is, but yet here he is getting all giddy about a cover?

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Being honest this guys job revolves around being a hypocrite to make headlines so it comes as no surprise. This guy seems to be awfully angry that a rival network, TNT, was hosting a basketball game while his network was trying something totally new to combat it. I guess ESPN could have filled the game with more useless talking about the NHL playoffs (which NBC has rights to)? The MLB games taking place that day (That will serve no long term purpose)? Or maybe ESPN should have hosted another poker game for him? (Or you know, hired him to cover Madden again….Maybe even NBA Jam on Wii? Yep he also covered that too!)

Yet, wouldn’t that be considered silly too? I mean at the end of the day we are talking about people playing a GAME. Basketball, football, hockey, or video GAMES, they are all games. Your “job” is to sit there and tell the world your opinion of a GAME. I honestly have not heard of this guy until I realized it’s people like him that made me not want to watch ESPN any more. His broadcasts basically boil down to finding something popular, yelling an opinion into a microphone, and pretending anyone that opposes him is stupid by editing out anything logical used against him. It becomes a show of who can talk louder, or who is better at twisting words, but it’s all just an opinion.

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That is what happened here. His comments are so vague and lacking of any intellect what so ever during his rant about video games, so it is rather hard for me to see what exactly it is he is crying about. His comments such as “I stopped at Harry Potter” (Which somehow has to deal with video games I guess?) make it seem as though he is attempting to convey that video games are not accepted by society? Or perhaps he is just appealing to his drunk jock demographic with a simple minded approach? Maybe he simply lacks the ability to do a little research into a $22 BILLION dollar industry, with a target audience of over 155 million users, before he opens his mouth? You know part of his audience is actually gamers too, but if we keep pretending they aren’t then how will it be accepted?

No, let’s blatantly show the world that we are stuck living in the 1990’s and completely incapable of growing the hell up. If I was sitting in grade school back in the early 2000’s I’d expect a person like him to make a stupid comment such as this, but we are adults now and you just aired this on ESPN… Above all else you would assume a journalist would look into his own comments before airing his opinion such as this. Why are you covering sports related games, but crying when your network expands outside of that? Why are you judging an entire industry, but follow up with a segment about not judging people? (Google Define “Hypocrisy”)

Honestly I’m an Arizona Coyotes fan (NHL) so I’m actually used to listening to how stupid sports journalists are. People honestly make fun of entertainment journalists, and video game journalists, and yeah it seems silly, but at least some of us do our research and remain passionate about an industry we love. I couldn’t care less about most sports, but if a sports article popped up on Cinelinx I wouldn’t throw a fit about it. It’d be up to our audience really. Sports journalists (like this, but not all of them) seem more reliant on blabbing out the first opinion that comes to mind, and most of them lack any ability to actually dive into a topic outside of football. (At least here in America) With hockey I’ve read stories that have “confirmed” my team is moving for over 5 years now, and I still read them to this day. I mean honestly hockey is a “niche” sports in most of the West side of America and most of these journalists couldn’t name 5 players on any given team without looking it up, but they do know how to get people to respond to things by yelling loudly into a microphone. So it comes as no surprise that one of them attempted to attack videogames (an industry they have even less of a clue about) and came off more stupid than the media reporting about “violent video games” on national news. He got us angry, got people talking, and now you know his name. 

Now flipping the table, as I said above, no video games are not sports. They can be competitions, but I personally believe that calling it “eSports” is rather laughable. Like it, agree with it, or not, the term “sports” paints an image of athletes, and while video games can be mentally tasking this is not the athlete we see. The question then becomes does it belong on ESPN?

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At first thought my reaction is this. If I were to see football on my Twitch feed, I’d turn it off.  The same can be said about ESPN, right? Well it gets a little odd from here because, as stated above, ESPN airs plenty non-sports related programs. If “eSpots” is getting a ton of advertisers, a massive audience, and the appeal to be aired, then why not air it as well? It is after all a competition, just like bowling, just like lumberjack competition’s or playing Pool, and so on. Above all else it was aired on ESPN2, not the original sports channel, but ESPN2 which is rather known for off the cuff competitions.

So overall if it is being aired on a secondary channel and it isn’t invading any real important sports moments, I see nothing wrong with it. Sorry to Mr. Cowherd, but even fans of the NBA failed to show up for an NBA playoff game this past weekend…. And hockey? NBC owns rights to that and ESPN won’t talk about it anyways. So overall this event really didn’t interfere with anything ESPN had going on, and probably even gave them a fighting chance for a new demographic to fend off the other networks.

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Overall while I believe they are using the wrong lingo to get video games into the spotlight, I still feel as though it deserves that spotlight. I see no reason why video games, especially tournaments of this skill level, should not be highlighted. If it’s not League of Legends, then it’s Madden or Call of Duty. Places like Twitch are not gaining audiences for no reason, people love watching other people play. In-fact a lot of gamers were extremely excited to see the tournament on ESPN and this guy had to go and ruin it with negative reactions.

Yet I’m glad he did it because now the internet is ablaze with his comments and reactions from real gamers. You can see that we, as gamers, will not stand by and be called basement dwellers anymore. Gaming is popular, it’s for everybody, and in some instances it requires extreme skill and dedication to keep up. Yes it will be hard for an older person to see how much the industry has grown when they “stopped caring at Harry Potter,” but it’s not too late to learn. Do we need to force them to care? No. I personally couldn’t care less about the NBA, but it doesn’t mean the NBA can’t still be popular. Same goes for video games, we may grow, and we may still have some people that simply don’t see why it is so popular, but overall we simply demand the respect to just enjoy it. We shouldn’t be pushed aside every time we try to gain rights to the big stage either.