ESports 'Not A Sport' Says ESPN President

ESports 'Not A Sport' Says ESPN President

This from the head of the network that streamed DOTA 2's 10 million dollar The International championship. OK then.

ESPN President John Skipper didn't mince words when asked about his thoughts on Amazon's $US970 million purchase of Twitch: "whatevs, breh." OK, he didn't actually say it that way, but he may as well have. Here, via re/code, is how he actually replied:

"[eSports] is not a sport — it's a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I'm interested in doing real sports."

That's quite a thing to say when the US government has declared eSports just as "real" as Big Field Pigskin Toss and Long Distance Precision Hoop Shot (Sometimes Involving Looney Tunes). eSports players also adhere to gruelling training regimens and tend to be dependent on youthful reflexes/physicality/dexterity during the exceedingly brief window of time that is their career.

Sorry Skipper, this ain't Chess. You're comparing apples and pineapples — wildly different things with only superficial similarities between them.

It will be interesting to see if his viewpoint has any effect on ESPN's future broadcasting of eSports. They'd be foolish to dial back on coverage of these tiny, massively popular gladiatorial arenas, but Skipper did say he wants to focus on "real" sports. That doesn't exactly bode well — even if the International and other eSports events have performed admirably for ESPN in the past.

I've mailed ESPN to ask about their future plans. I'll update this post when I hear back.


    I'm so over trying to argue the legitmacy of E-Sports as a Sport its right up there with trying to convince Creationist are not scientist.

    I don't agree with your point that its not like chess. E-Sports can have a lot of similarities to chess especially a game like Starcraft 2 (Which is my main E-Sport).

    I will only say this:
    SportAccord(association for all the largest international sports federations) Definition of a sport is as follows:
    - The sport proposed should include an element of competition.
    - The sport should not rely on any element of “luck” specifically integrated into the sport.
    - The sport should not be judged to pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its athletes or participants.
    - The sport proposed should in no way be harmful to any living creature.
    - The sport should not rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier.

    they classify sports into different categories:
    - Primarily physical (e.g. athletics, football etc)
    - Primarily mind (e.g. chess YES CHESS)
    - Primarily motorised (e.g. Formula One)
    - Primarily coordination (e.g. billiards)
    - Primarily animal-supported (e.g. equestrianism)

    By this definition, E-Sports comfortable fits into what people consider a sport, It does not just mean you must experience physical exertion during play.

      Personally I'm of the opinion that the only real sports are when the loser ends up dead or brutally mauled.

        Hahaha - Brilliant!!


      at the end of the day John Skipper will eventually realise he isnt the deity that he thinks he is

      TBH i cant wait for Gen X to die out.

      Just watch as esports grows on its own and starts raking in millions of dollars more than it already has, meanwhile these idiots sit on their hands watching their market share diminish and stop growing. ALl their underhanded tactics involving broadcasting exclusives and copyright bs will only get them so far

      Eventually theyll cave and start backtracking on their words. Because money is the root of all evil and these guys only care about money at the end of the day

      i dont need some tv executive to me what i should be allowed to think is or isnt a sport

      Last edited 07/09/14 5:06 pm

        "Can't wait for Gen X to die out."
        Wow. I guess being a Gen X who runs regular BarCrafts and Tournaments I should stop then? eSports is a huge passion for me, please don't paint us all with the same brush.

      That's a pretty interesting definition. Especially:
      "The sport should not rely on any element of “luck” specifically integrated into the sport."

      So poker definitely won't count as a sport then? I believe ESPN broadcasts lots of poker.

        That's kind of pointless since they also streamed the Dota championship. Obviously he has no issue hosting things he doesn't consider sport.

      But wouldn't almost any videogame fall under the definition of "equipment that is provided by a single supplier"?

        The video would be the parameters to which a game is competed to and on. The game is the subject/sport itself and cannot be played on its own. Much like the 'idea' of football cannot be played without equipment(football) therefore Starcraft2 could not be played without its required equipment(PC).

        Equipment could be hardware. Given when not all participants are gathered in a LAN to perform, hardware will come with all different types of hardware, plus I'm sure a lot of high end players will never part with their preferred keyboard and mouse

      Sports cooking! I'm just saying, Masterchef and co. are therefore sports lol.

        I don't know. I mean, Chiefs helmet does look like a biker helmet.

          MasterCHEF MasterCHEF!!!!!!!!

            Ok I get it. You're Puerto Rican and have trouble with pronunciation.


              Cómo puedes decir que me siento muy ofendido. No soy peurto rico, soy Portugués!

      I wasn't going to do any PvP when Destiny comes out next week, but if it means I can call myself a sportsman then maybe there'll be benefits. Should at least impress the ladies.

      Formula One is also primarily physical. It's not just the coordination of making turns but also withstanding significant forces of acceleration.

    How does the following classification not affect e-sport?
    - The sport should not rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier.
    Equipment i.e the game can only de supplied by a single developer.

    Modern man likes nothing than to remind themselves how badass they are by doing virtual war games either by being a general or being a grunt & there is nothing like giving people the experience of not being left out by giving people a virtual experience of what people who have trained in all sorts of combat fighting each other by having virtual fighting tornaments (although 1 of the contestants of a virtual tornament had to be nerfed as they could easily DESTROY all WWE combatants in a battle royale, source of info came from the codec page on it). But also man has found a way so that there is a tornament which duplicates racing so that they don't die racing. So to the pres of espn, esports is a series of sports where you can think on your feat while playing withtypes of games that simulate an aspect of either combat or real sport

      That being said; MOBAs dont really have a real-world equivalent in the way that you're putting it... But other than that i pretty much agree.

    The thing that seems weird about defining esports as a sport is the typical gameplayer that hates sports and criticises people that like it.

    He's right in a way, esports are not sports. Just like email is not mail.

    They are two very similar but ultimately different things. That's why they have a different name.

    Sport is sport. Esport is esport.

    Last edited 07/09/14 5:52 pm

    Sport is sport. Esport is esport.

    Yer i'm not entirely sure why people can't just accept this. Is it as simple as people trying to justify it's legitimacy as something more than just a recreational pastime by comparing it to something that is socially acceptable?

    There is no doubt its popularity is growing rapidly and it's requires a huge amount of skill but it is most definitely not a sport in the traditional sense and imo has no real need to be labelled as such.

    There's no reason ESPN couldn't have an E-Sports channel stand alone if there was enough content to fill 24 hours every day. There's also no reason John Skipper would want or need to have any involvement in such a channel either.

    Arguing E-Sports is a sport is boring and pointless, who cares, to me it shows a real lack of creativity on behalf of the community to find a better name. Fighting to be recognised as a sport can only hold the medium back. Given it's a digital medium with no boundaries, breaking from the sport genre, allows so much freedom, from game rulesets to game types.

    This from the network that fills most of their spare airtime with Poker and Crossfit?

    This is the kind of person whose business eventually become superseded by the very new models they now despise as trivial and end making impassioned public declarations about "going back to our roots" and "the way of life that our fathers died defending" all while (ineffectively) lobbying against, associating with former rivals, and underhandedly attempting to sabotage the new ways.

    Last edited 08/09/14 2:23 am

    Golf: A sport.
    Croquet: A sport.
    E-sports: Not a sport.

    Clearly it's a generational thing.

    Can we call it E-Comps instead and put this to rest?

    fat unhealthy teenagers with luminescent skin? yeah sure they are sportsmen for sure. NOT! gimmie a break Esports is nothing more than just playing games IT IS NOT A SPORT !! you can dress a pig up and take it to the prom but its still a pig.

    Last edited 08/09/14 10:15 am

      And football is nothing more than carrying an ball back and forth across a field. Its quite literally just as pointless as playing video games. They are both just a form of entertainment.

      I have no idea why 'sport' is held in such high regard.

      Do you know what a sport is? The definition of a sport is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team which competes against another or others for entertainment."

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