When ESPN broadcast Heroes of the Storm earlier this year, ESPN anchor Colin Cowherd was seething. If eSports was ever broadcast on his employer’s network, he said he’d quit.
Cowherd no longer works for ESPN. But that hasn’t stopped him from being outraged about the growing association between professional gaming and traditional broadcast mediums, and he’s only too happy to let the internet know.
The sports broadcaster isn’t a stranger to controversy; some say he courts it. And when he took aim at ESPN, his current employer at the time, people were hardly surprised. SBNation said at the time that Cowherd made his career “by going after the lowest-hanging fruit”.
Others pointed out that ESPN broadcasting Heroes of the Storm was no different from the network televising spelling bees and competitive eating tournaments. But nuance and respect for things that are different, at least in regards to eSports, aren’t traits that Cowherd upholds a great deal.
His swipe at gaming — professional or otherwise — is just as simple, where he struggles to finish reading from the press release without laughing, before showcasing a clip of Guilty Gear Xrd from this year’s Evolution fighting game championships.
Never mind that Guilty Gear wasn’t the biggest game at EVO 2015 — or anywhere close to the biggest game in eSports at all. But then why tackle reality when you can cherry pick and nerd shame? But I digress. To borrow a phrase from Cowherd, let’s roll the tape.
It’s difficult to feel contempt for Cowherd when the faux play-by-play of an EVO champion supposedly going home to his parent’s house kicks off. The man is a jock, epitomising the absolute worst of sport and the divisive kind of attitude that is already too pervasive in some gaming sectors.
But there is a positive to all of this: at least everyone can band together, point at Cowherd and collectively say, “We’re better than this.” As gaming as a sport becomes a more common activity around the world, more characters like Cowherd are going to come out of the woodwork spouting the kind of maniacal, rabid gibberish that Cowherd repeated on air.
Let’s not be apologists: eSports has lots of problems to resolve before it gets to the stage of other sports. But appealing to simpletons like Cowherd isn’t one of them.