It's clear that competitive gaming is on the rise, but will eSports ever be seen by the mainstream sports community as a legitimate sport? That's exactly what HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debated recently, with panelists largely dismissing cyber-athletes and their profession.
After acknowledging she had no idea that eSports even existed, sportscaster and former professional tennis player Mary Carillo said, "It's still not a sport. It's a game."
Panelists including Fox News correspondent Bernard Goldberg and Frank Deford cracked jokes about Star Trek conventions and labeled the millions of people who watch eSports events as "crazy."
Co-host Soledad O'Brien defended eSports, saying competitive gaming requires strategy and some level of physical exertion, albeit on a lesser level than traditional sports like soccer or basketball.
In an interview with GameSpot sister site OnGamers, O'Brien explained in greater detail why she believes competitive gaming should be considered a sport.
"Anything that has a high level dedicated structure, business model, prize money, and an elite competitive level is a sport," she said.
At the same time, however, she acknowledged that making a distinction between what is a sport and what is not a sport is not worth debating. "At the end of the day whether or not eSports is a sport isn't important," O'Brien said.
A clip of the Real Sports episode, which aired this week, is available below. The full episode is not available online yet. For more, check out OnGamers' interview with O'Brien.