Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

This weekend, ESPN2 aired a preview for the grand finals of Dota 2’s The International, the 10 million-dollar tournament for the very popular video game. The move is kind of a big deal — arguably, it grants competitive gaming more mainstream legitimacy. But not everyone was happy to see Dota 2 on ESPN.

You can watch the segment here thanks to Mitchell Chea — Gabe Newell appears at about the 20-minute mark:

Naturally, some folks were hyped about the whole thing:

Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments
Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

But most folks seemed confused, irritated, if not downright angry about ESPN2 airing a video game:

Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments
Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments
Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

Here’s a preview of some of the negative tweets you’ll find if you search ‘ESPN2’ on Twitter. Click on ‘expand’ to see the image in full:

Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

Picture: Redditor nicnarcotic

The intense response might seem silly, but it kind of makes sense. The average sports fan might not necessarily know or care about Dota, and its broadcast on ESPN2 was a surprise even to gamers. Plus, gamers themselves have disputes about categorising gaming as a sport. None of this excuses people being mean about how Dota 2 players look, of course!

But to put this even further into perspective, here is the response that sports fans had to ESPN broadcasting soccer during the world cup, as posted by Redditor Vik1ng:

Some Sports Fans Upset ESPN Is Airing Video Game Tournaments

The response to Dota doesn’t seem so bad now, huh? Heh.

Via Reddit


  • I’m curious what these people complaining think about ESPN airing spelling bees.

    • I’m pretty sure ESPN shows NASCAR. So, y’know… real ‘athleticism’ there.

      • Not a good example heh. You actually do require quite a bit of ‘athleticism’ for performance car driving. When you are sitting in a car which can reach over 40c easily (~110F for you mericans) for over 5 hours it is quite draining especially considering you need 100% concentration or it can be the death of you and others.

        • Right, and gamers can get DVT from sitting. But there’s not really much ‘sport’ to it, not much physical activity, is there? Pretty sure it’s a great example of not requiring athleticism. There’s no strength or speed or agility required in NASCAR at all. There’s endurance, but the same is true of taking an epic dump. Drivers might like to take care of their bodies but they don’t all do, and don’t have to. The difference between the athleticism required in NASCAR compared to damn near any other sport people want to see on ESPN definitely puts it the same ballpark as DOTA. 🙂

          (But since you seem to know a bit about the challenges of turning left for four hours and I presume like it, let’s revise out of respect to that…. ‘sport’, to say that I’m pretty sure ESPN also shows darts and poker. The key here is that the people doing the complaining are quite happy to accept ‘non-sports’ that don’t fit the stereotype of moving a ball around a field, just not video games. Which is hypocritical.)

          • Sure, it’s no marathon but it is taxing on the body. Conditioning for a sport doesn’t require people to look the part either. Some sports require a lean body mass as it’s such a huge detriment if they are overweight. Think marathon runner vs golfer – being slightly overweight as a golfer is not going to have a detrimental effect on your ability to play (although the best golfers are generally pretty fit – Adam scott, mcalroy or tiger for example). In nascar your HR & metabolic rate increases substantially. Not many studies have been done on it but have a quick look over

            His metabolic rate (how much oxygen is consumed), was four times more than his resting metabolic activity. That means he used four times as much oxygen as when he’s just sitting in a chair and not doing anything.

            That is rather substantial – it’s comparable to a fast walking/light jog (depending on your fitness level). That’s not even taking into account the heat. If you aren’t conditioned for it there is no way you’d perform very well and it could be potentially dangerous. It’s miles more demanding than a computer gamer.

            That said it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Gaming is definitely closer to chess than it is football. People don’t feel chess is a sport – it is. It will all come down to how popular it is with the general public. If it reaches Korean levels of acceptability you can bet your ass ESPN and every other sporting channel will want to televise it.

          • I’m not sure about NASCAR (though I’d imagine it’s similar) but F1 drivers have to be ridiculously fit. Just because they aren’t running around, doesn’t mean it’s not taxing on the body. I remember seeing something once about the fluid loss and muscle exertion and so on in an F1 race and I think it was comparable to a lot of high-intensity sports. Due to the G-forces and so on at that speed, they need to physically wrestle with the wheel, etc. They have fitness coaches, dieticians and so on just like any other athletes.

      • Next dota tournament should feature the female teams (scantly clad). There you go ESPN, you’re welcome.

    • I was going to comment something along those lines.
      I personally have no interest in e-sports, but to complain it’s not athletic enough to be on a channel that also broadcasts hotdog eating competitions is a bit ridiculous.

  • No matter what you do some people are going to not like it.

    I personally don’t understand the allure of Dota at all but I am really happy to see that gaming is making it’s way into the big leagues.

  • Ah the sound of ‘jocks’ complaining their asses off because competitive gaming is on a sports channel, believe me, professional physical sports people need their talents spotted early on & need to endure body breaking injuries that threaten your life, competetive gaming however requires you to strategise & sometimes a talent agent might pick you if they spot your talents regardless of age

    • ha…ha…. yes.. that’s all there is to competitive gaming, especially on the level of this competition… it’s not like they spend a lot of time practicing, working on their team work, memorizing information from each new patch, figuring out how it could affect their current strategies … no no.. they just go and play for fun

  • oh mercy…
    i dont use twitter, but is it mandatory to post in a way that you have to decipher what they are saying? the first few picture i cant understand WTF they are going on about…
    #tawklikdis (did i get that right social media vets?)

  • I don’t even know Lorde. Why would I care about her?

    Oh, sorry, wrong rant in the wrong thread. *Checks Internet weathercock* Oh, that’s right, we hate Lorde having an opinion but these people are stupid for the same thing. Sorry.


    Why are they so ignorant don’t they know lord gaben stupid people NASCAR isn’t a sport this is awesome for video gaming.

    • I don’t know if I would call “It’s like being in someone’s filth, but on a pure level it’s nice. Kind of like communism.” much of an opinion….

  • If darts and poker are sports-channel-worthy, then professional gaming is too. I say this as someone who used to play darts fairly seriously.

  • I get the feeling that if we crossreferenced these tweets with those awful ones showing up celebrating the Earthquake in Japan a few years ago, we’d find many repeating usernames. Who else could possibly come up with stuff like “soccer is akin to terrorism”?

  • As a big games fan I’d have to say that they’ve got no place on a real sports channel. I’m happy for them to be broadcast for sure, I’m happy for gamers to make good money if they can, but I don’t want to see games when I flick over to watch sports.
    Can I repost what I wrote yesterday?

    “Some people get so caught up in the idea that games should be accepted and loved by all that they lose track of reality.
    I love games, I want others to love them, but I don’t think the world is made better by people who are good at games being given the same level of admiration and recognition those who succeed in more physical pursuits.

    If you’re die-hard enough about it you can totally make the argument that gamers are “athletes”, that succeeding in games requires many of the same attributes as are required in traditional sports, or even that games themselves are no different to traditional sports.
    To me the argument is kinda embarrassing, like someone who works at McDonalds but who craves validation so badly that they tell girls that they’re a professional chef. They can totally do it, but why would you?

    Games are a skill, they’re a competition but I think it’s stretching to call them a sport in the traditional sense which the average person would understand. If I met someone in the pub who told me they were a professional gamer who made a living off games I’d think that was awesome, if they called themselves an “e-athlete” I’d be more likely to think they were a massive tool.

    That might change one day though. There’d be a level at which something like the Oculus Rift would meet the criteria where an average person would view it as an athletic endeavour. We’re still a ways off yet though.”

    • You forgot to add these important sentence fragments:
      – back in my day
      – kids these days
      – get off my lawn
      – when I was your age

      • You don’t need to get off my lawn, just my sports channel.
        I’m 100% supportive of any of the 30 odd entertainment channels on Foxtel or free-to-air putting pro-gaming right up front of their programming.

        Don’t you like real sports? I love both, but I’m not so desperate to see gaming legitimised that I want to see it cannibalise real sports (not that I think they will).
        Games are competition, like gameshows or reality TV. I’m not trying to put shit on them, that just what I see them as.

        Games can be respected for what they are, gamers shouldn’t be so desperate for validation that they shoehorn them into a box that they don’t fit into.

        • Yeah, they should totally be happy being shoehorned into the pitiful excuse for competition that is reality TV. Much more respectful.

          • If you want to stretch the commonly understood definition of ‘sports’ to include video games then I can definitely make a good argument that Master Chef is a sport.

            Direct competition, teamwork, technical knowledge, speed, physical finesse (have you seen those guys chop an onion?!?), coolness under pressure, strategic planning….. Yep that’s the EXACT same attributes that DOTA has, with the exception that unlike DOTA players (and more like players of traditional sports) the cooks in Master Chef are competing with hands covered in actually painful cuts and burns.

            Back to the same point again; you can appropriate the term ‘sports’ for JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. The difference is that the title of Professional Chef on it’s own carries a high enough social standing that the people who do it arn’t claiming it’s the same as something that it’s really not.

            While gamers would love the validation and recognition that comes with the term ‘sports person’ I see exactly why people are a little annoyed at the idea of gamers stretching the term. If you’re offended by being compared to MasterChef- Mark Webber is 6ft tall, diets all year round and weighs 75kgs, can bang out hundreds of pushups at a time and does a job that is hot, exhausting, dangerous and which subjects his body to forces which would render an untrained body unconscious….. yet look through these comments- “he sits in a chair just like Gabe!”…… right.

          • 1. No one is forcing you to watch it
            2. you can change channel when its on, not that hard
            3. How does DOTA being labelled a sport in any way affect you negatively?

            Get off your high horse, Gaming is already a sport in South korea. Its their national sport. Get with the times

        • Here is the thing, its not and will never be your sports channel. Esports is a rapidly growing industry and I’m really glad to see that happening. I won’t be surprised if eventually an EESPN becomes a channel in a few decades.

          You make a point of calling games a competition like game shows. Esports in general is exactly the same as mainstream sports eg Football, tennis etc. What it boils down to is a team or person playing a game with a dictated set of rules to reach a goal and achieve victory.

          • While I’d still think it was unnecessary to use the sports label at all (I feel like it’s something a lot for gamers want to appropriate for social validation as opposed to actually being the appropriate term) I’d LOVE to see a games entertainment/ competition channel on television one day.

    • Don’t forget curling, poker, darts, lawnbowls, golf, archery.
      Its going to be ok though as soon as you can gamble money on it sports fans will be happy.

  • I don’t care what anyone says, watching finals last night was easily as exciting as any sportsball match I’ve ever watched.

    People complaining about the amount of “athleticism” required and if that equates to how worth it makes the game shown on a TV station dedicated to sports is ridiculous. Do you debate the amount of athleticism required for motor sports compared to rugby to declare if it’s a sport or not too? How about cycling to gymnastics? How about the pseudo sport called UFC compared to basketball? Get out of here.

    • Last night’s MasterChef semi final was also a high level competition of wits, speed and finesse. It’s no more or less of a “sport” and it’s competitors “athletes” than DOTA 2. They can be fun to watch and enthralling, but neither of them belong on the sports channel.

      Also I love how you implied that i’m a closed minded old fogey who didn’t consider gaming a sport and then called MMA a “pseudo sport”. Slightly hypocritical there.

      • Sorry I don’t find grown men beating the living shit out of each other and bleeding into each others eyes (I know it doesn’t happen every match but it does happen) entertaining in the least or more worthy of being called a sport. I think it’s a bigger tell on the human race that UFC gets a pass and people like you want to bitch about video games being put in the same category as it.

        Mind you technically rugby, football, netball basketball etc all games, so why are they worthy of being suitable for sports yet video games are not? But yeah we should totally let meathead jock* mentality dictate what a TV station can show because of the generalised prejudice against anything even remotely intellectual opposed to physical.

        *This is not an insult directed at you. You just seem to buy into this mentality for some reason.

        • It’s not about it not being “jocky” enough, it’s just that it’s REALLY not what Sports channels traditionally show, it’s not what they exist for. The fact that you raised the term “jock” only fuels my suspicions that plenty of gamers (maybe not yourself necessarily) come into this argument with a yearning for social validation that offsets their ability to objectively assess where games sit in the realm of “sports”.

          It’s not enough for games to be respected as their own thing, they can’t be a competition that rates well on Fox 8 and makes the competitors well off. It’s this idea that gamers could be SPORTS PEOPLE. That sitting on your ass for 8 hours a day playing CoD should be respected by the community in the same way that being out running around in the fresh air should be, or that being the best mouse and keyboard guy should get you a BJ from the hottest girl in school.

          To me, games are most certainly competitions, on the basis that no real physical interactions are occurring directly between the competitors or the environment. There’s a big enough disconnect between the physical and the virtual to rule them out of the ‘sports’ category.
          You can certainly make the argument that some of the traditional sports (like motorsport) are similar… but I’d have to argue that the link in tenuous and I’d want an explanation as to WHY it was so important to you that the publicly understood definition of ‘sports’ should be stretched to include your particular hobby.

          As an aside regarding MMA. It’s just blood! We’re all full of the stuff!
          All those guys get tested just before their fights and while I’m aware of people having been pulled from fights (very rarely) for having blood infections, I’ve NEVER heard of someone contracting something via an MMA fight. It’s not like the point of the fight is to drown the other guy in blood either, it’s just a consequence of competition.
          To me MMA is THE essence of sport, it’s as pure and competitive as you can get without making it unreasonably dangerous. I understand 100% that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea though.

          • I find it ludicrous you want to keep what is quickly becoming a well formed, well let’s say game to avoid further pointless argument, game league from a more respectful place of showing just because you personally believe it’s about social acceptance. Not only is that point so far from the truth (as the big push is coming from Asian countries where starcraft players are already bigger than most of their national sport identities) it’s so socially counter productive.

            It’s not even about the transmission of disease, although that does become an issue when like all of these types of sports gets imitated at home, it’s just disgusting inhumane bullshit. As a species we should be trying to move forward not cheering on the missing link while howling for blood in grand collesseums like the ancient Romans. I have seen several occasions where the bleeding has been used to specifically hamper an opponent, completely unpunished by any rule, just a consequence eh.

          • Hehe, well I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on this.

            Like I’ve said I don’t see any problem with professional gaming becoming their OWN form of socially accepted entertainment. I don’t see a problem with the participants gaining wealth and fame from their participation, I just think it’s wilful a overreach to call it sport and while if you look at it from a purely gaming perspective there’s not harm in that, I think it is degrading to the common understanding of what sport is if you include video games.

            Can you tell me honestly would you be happy to look your neighbour in the eye when asked “Do your kids do Saturday sport?” and say “Yeah, they play DOTA 2”. No? That’s because it’s entertainment, it’s competition, but it’s NOT sport no matter how much gamers would love for it to be.

            I disagree with you on MMA but I certainly understand your point of view. It’s not for everyone but I think it’s good that men who want to compete against each other in an aggressive environment can do that.
            I will tell you thought that those guys train amazingly hard at the high levels. A top level mixed martial artist puts in as many training hours as just about anyone.

          • Sorry but you’re wrong pure and simple, you can’t be arbiter of what is and isn’t something, especially when you’re saying what’s on ESPN now is sport and what they want to put on isn’t. They show darts and snooker for crying out loud.

            Hopefully by the time my son has grown up a bit all people will have been and if it is his choice to strive to do well at games I won’t have to worry about a social stigma that you have to be playing a ball game to fit in. I will support him in his choice and will try and make sure he maintains a healthy balance in his life to remain physically active and not suffer like many of my generation through sedentary choices.

            The five guys who won first walked away with a million each, second places 100k each and one of them was a 17 year old. How many 17 year olds in “traditional” sports are walking away with 100k for second place without putting stress on their bodies that will cause them to be near crippled by 40? Why wouldn’t I back my son in that if he had the skills to pull it off?

            I don’t disagree that the UFC competitors are physically fit, they clearly are but there are plenty of martial sports that have existed long before UFC that don’t devolve into Neanderthal blood letting.

  • Eh, traditionally I don’t think I’d classify gaming as a sport (it is a competition and it does take talent though) in the same way I wouldn’t classify an eating contest or a trivia competition as a sport. But in this day and age when spelling bees and competitive eating are considered sports I don’t see how you can complain if gaming is included in that category. I don’t think ESPN is the right channel to be showing it though as it’s pretty obvious the usual ESPN audience isn’t tuning in for gaming.

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