ESPN Says eSports Isn't a Sport -- What Do You Think?

"It's a competition."

772 Comments

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It might have the word "sports" right there in the title, but according to ESPN's president, playing professional League of Legends and Dota 2 isn't the same as playing professional football or basketball.

“It’s not a sport—it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition,” ESPN president John Skipper said at Re/code's Code/Media Series: New York conference when asked to comment on Amazon's $1 billion acquisition of Twitch. “Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.”

It's a surprisingly dismissive position coming from the president of the company that just a month ago partnered with Valve to stream the $10 million Dota 2 world championship tournament The International on ESPN 3, the cable television network's online branch.

It's also not the same position as that of the United States Government, which last year recognized League of Legends players as professional athletes.

It'll be interesting to see if Skipper's position is reflected in ESPN's programming. From a strictly business perspective, there's certianly money to be made by airing eSports. According to a recent report from IHS Technology, 2.4 billion hours of eSports were viewed during 2013, and the eSports video market will be worth $300 million annually by 2018.

We've reached out to ESPN for comment and will update this story with anything we hear back.

Do you think eSports is a real sport? Let us know in the comments below.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Luirio

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Well if Poker is considered a sport due to the fact that those who are on the poker scene play for a lot of money, Esports can be considered a sport due to the fact that gamers on the esport scene play for money too and also, just like any other sports, you need to take decisions on the spot, have strategies, have a million and one scenarios of what could happen, analyze your opponents play so you don't make mistakes, people who are on those chairs are not regular gamers, they have coach, they take training just like any other athletes.

So my question: Is Esports as much a sports as Formula one? The answer? go to the gym and make the F1 program, you won't stand two exercise...trust me...YOU...WON'T.

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Kcekjm9797

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Personally I don't think gaming is a sport, I think its a competitive game. And how do you distinguish what kind of games would be sports anyway because nintendogs is a video game. And now if i race my dogs against your dogs does that make fucking Nintendogs a sport? Of course not

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Banjhex

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By definition it is not a sport. Technically. It is a competition. But I don't see why that's a negative. I don't agree with the term esport either. There needs to be something else to define it. Not sure what. But in order to call it a sport they would need to redefine sports and athletes.

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PookaMustard

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What ESPN says is the truth. A shame for them they actually streamed a game; the blame is half on them for making idiots calling 'gaming' a sports.


Let's face it guys: gaming is not and never will be a sports. If you say otherwise, revise yourself!

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mundox86

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<< LINK REMOVED >> So poker is a real sport?

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BuzzLiteBeer

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> No, it's not and it still blows my midn that it is aired on ESPN.

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pizzaman107

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I believe that if theres no physical strain then it shouldnt be considered a sport.It pisses me off theyre trying to include formula 1 or whatever in the olympics.

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Morgueson

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Says the ones who used to show Magic the Gathering competitions back in the days...

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1Post

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@Morgueson: And Magic isn't a sport.

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Mega_Skrull

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"Sport: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment"

From some dictionary. So now, do games require skill? Yeah. Are they competitive? In multiplayer yeah. Do they involve physical exertion? Well, maybe a bit and depends on how long you play. Should we really care this much about a definition? I think not, and I'd be playing some absolutely non sporty singleplayer game instead of caring a little if I wasn't at work.

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bicepsul

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<< LINK REMOVED >> it's not the definition i am worried about, it is just about twisting the image of something to conform to some sort of new trend. Games are games and provide competition and fun, they are not related to any notion of sport. They never were.

"Do they involve physical exertion? Well, maybe a bit and depends on how long you play. "

there is a difference between physical exertion, and feeling worn out and stiff cause you spent 20 hours on a chair without moving at all.. Mind me suggesting something to you, a little experiment, play for several hours and then when you feel "physically exhausted" go run or do some physical activity, or just take a walk outside, you will see that you no longer feel like that, you will actually feel rejuvenated, It is only your brain that is tired and is telling that to your body. It is physically impossible for your body to feel exhausted when you are barely using it, well of course if you play for hours and don't eat and drink well then yeah, you are exhausted but that is not because of your gaming effort.

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joahfitzgerald

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> So why am I slightly offended "Real Sports" are still considered games on a daily basis. Mr. Skipper needs to re-think where everything started and that people used to have fun playing Sports as Games rather then this angry themed, dried up business model he seems to be pushing towards.

Seriously, they could learn so much if they embraced esports instead of shunning it for those many old school, hardcore "Real Sports" fans that will have actually left the planet in 10 - 20 years.

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1Post

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@joahfitzgerald: That actually isn't true. Some sports like baseball and basketball had professional levels right from the start.

Skipper is right--e-sports are not sports. You are quite the hipster if you delude yourself with your statements. "Real Sports" are going nowhere anytime soon.

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Evariskitsune

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >>

Okay, but what about in 4 years or so when the Virtuix Omni is out? I mean, that's physical exertion as much as any sport, given you're physically moving your body as much as your character is moving in-game.

So will esports be sports then?

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bicepsul

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i agree, since when has playing video-games become similar to sports, they used to be totally opposite? okay you need to have good coordination and fast reaction but so you need if you are a waiter and have to run with plates through a crowded restaurant, is that a sport? I agree it is a competition, but never a sport.

definition of sports: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment:

where is the physical exertion in e-sports, sitting on your ass and moving 5 fingers and a wrist is now considered physical exertion? sports always involved athletic capabilities such as - speed, strength, stamina, balance, coordination, fast reactions, all of these apart from having a strong mind, good skills, being focused and mentally prepared for competition.

No wonder obesity is fucking skyrocket, gaming always promoted a bad lifestyle, people died in front of pc's due to starvation and dehydration, now we call them atheltes in e-sport.

When kinect came and it offered "jumping and moving around to play" everyone fired up, couch potatoes wanted just that, to sit down and do a minimal effort and just "have fun" not "sore muscles". Now they have the guts to call themselves athletes.. the world is fucked up.

Like this guy said, it is a competition, but it is not a sport and will never be.

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stealth6spy

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And yet they air Poker on TV...

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StompNooblets

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ESPN if so then don't host anymore esport tournaments on your channels, and yes we won't watch it from your web anymore thanks.

simple as that guys.

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StompNooblets

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It takes critical thinking with fast reaction threw apm and team work. To accomplish this takes up alot of time with pratice just like any physical sport. Just because its a different sport, doesn't mean its not consider as one. Its very ignorant really...

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1Post

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@stompnooblets: Thing is e-sports were never sports to begin with.

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Dieknochenblume

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Meh, it doesn't really matter. I like to think pro gaming or esports are sports, and that's just something I enjoy. Doesn't need to become a law or be in dictionary. Let anyone think whatever they want.

I don't think anyone considers fishermen as athletes, but fishing is a sport. Pro gamers can be considered athletes and there's nothing wrong with that either. It's not like it's insulting anyone. Suddenly the internet takes things too seriously.

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1Post

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@Dieknochenblume: If you want to live a lie that's fine by me. But I live by facts. Neither e-sports nor fishing are sports in any way.

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Vubz

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Pretty ignorant. Doesn't know anything about the community or exports themselves. And to call it a competion not a sport is stupid, lol players have practice, scrims, championships, ext and get paid.

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1Post

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@vubz: If it doesn't require physical exertion then it is not a sport. Thus, e-sports aren't sports.

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MrMilkmann

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Sport-

1.anathleticactivityrequiringskillorphysicalprowessandoftenofacompetitivenature,asracing,baseball,tennis,golf,bowling,wrestling,boxing,hunting,fishing,etc.

2.aparticularformofthis,especiallyintheoutofdoors.

3.diversion;recreation;pleasantpastime.

4.jest;fun;mirth;pleasantry:Whathesaidinsportwastakenseriously.

5.mockery;ridicule;derision:Theymadesportofhim.

6.anobjectofderision;laughingstock.

7.somethingtreatedlightlyortossedaboutlikeaplaything.

Pretty sure at least one of those could apply to eSports.

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1Post

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@MrMilkmann: Guess watching movies must be a sport too then using your logic

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Thanatos2k

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Of course eSports aren't sports. Sports are played by athletes. Sports requires a physical conditioning component.


These are games.


And there's nothing wrong with that.

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joahfitzgerald

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I thought "Real Sports" were considered games? Crap I'm so confused.

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Zerabp

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Beat me to it.



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stalepie

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Chess tournament, street fighter tournament.


I think if it wants to be taken seriously it should drop the "e" from the name (eSport) - tournament is a better word. Sport usually means physical activity

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ronid76

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The Jocks are all scared because soon the nerds will be the cool guys haha. I used to get picked on in my dungeon and dragons after school class by the football kids. Not that i couldnt play i just enjoyed roleplaying way more. Those same guys are mostly all losers in life now, i know thanks to the magic of facebook. Meanwhile now i write code for google and have a beautiful wife a nice little home and a totally souped up BRZ that i drive home from work...to play Diablo3 haha. Its only a matter of time before esports blows up. All these old business guys have no concept of technology and whats comming down the line. Once this next generation of kids grows up ...you know the ones at 3 playing on the IPADs everything is going to change. School in 15 years from now the computer kids are going to be the cool kids while the low intel bunch are kicking the ball around outside.

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hystavito

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<< LINK REMOVED >> They called you a loser, now you call them losers, don't you see, you've become them. :)

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samanoskay

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<< LINK REMOVED >> yup because tall handsome and physicaly fit men will totaly go out of fashion.

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MaciMate

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@ronid76 And that wife of yours probably cheats on you with those very jocks you think you "have beaten" lol.


Not to mention she would've ignored you in her prime.... now you're good enough when she's done with the cock-carroussel and looking to settle down with a nerdy chump who thinks she's an innocent angel.. hahahaahah. You'd die if you knew the amount of cocks your wife has taken.



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chuckles471

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Bitter much?

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KitchMurder

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Yet Poker/Playing cards is a sport? Golf? Figure skating? Diving? That thing were the dude jumbs around on a matress?


F*cking baby boomers...evil and dumb 'til the end!


Sports means $$$$$$ not actual athletism.


But when you're a dumb ass baby boomer, you have to be an hypocrit. That's the very nature of their existence.

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SirApathetic01

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@KitchMurder It takes many years to become as professional athlete, or to even be decent competition for other competitors in the Olympics. For something like Dota 2 or LoL, it takes only but a few months to become decent. Especially if your friend is highly ranked and is teaching you. I can give you Michael Jordan but you won't learn significantly faster and join the NBA the same year.


The diet of athletes is also extremely crucial; it's a fundamental thing in sports, whereas in Dota 2 or LoL, it's not...just look at Scarra. Heck, even Dyrus used to be slimmer and "in shape" than he is now.

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StompNooblets

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<< LINK REMOVED >> you think its that easy huh? A few months?? You got to be kidding me. In dota it takes time and effort with team work and strategies, and can take up to a year and longer.

I'd like to see you go pro in dota in 4 to 6 months.

better yet go in amateur league, you will get murder.

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chuckles471

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I would take the figure skater to beat a E-sport competitor 9/10 in any sport. Do you understand the fitness needed to do that?

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Red122

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> I agree with chuckles slamming redbull and sitting eight to 24 hours in front of a screen isn't a sport its a one way ticket to diabetes and high blood pressure. I heard a twitch guy say hes an "esport", athlete but the only movement he made was ten feet to the toilet.

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ronid76

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Actually...its a fine line because to play these games you need strong mental fortitude and rapid hand eye dexterity so the point that there is no physical activity involved is not true. Golf is considered a sport and as stupid as golf is, any one of these kids could get up on that field and hit some balls around. Ask the golfer to sit down and play a round of Dota or Lol...goodluck. The reality is many people look down on video games and have the mentality that no skill is involve. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Its proven science that hardcore gamers are much better at multi-tasking and have higher brain activity than a non-gamer. Anyways i could go on and on but whatever....i for one would watch Esports over golf any day of the week.

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1Post

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@ronid76: Golf isn't a sport however. Neither are e-sports. Negative studies also exist for hardcore gamers too, like becoming more aggressive.

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Baldeagle91

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Well it's not a sport... but it is a "mind sport".

Many mind sports such as chess and bridge are recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committe and SportAccord recognize 5 different mind sports.

So yes esports can be seen as a sport.

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Thanatos2k

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Mind sports aren't sports either. They're games.

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keeper262

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Of course esports are a sport. It is competitive physical activity...hand eye coordination with the movement of your fingers. There is both casual and organized competition. The goals of which do aim to improve the physical ability, hand eye coordination and to provide entertainment to both participants and spectators. I do think that it isn't a very demanding physical activity but "demanding" isn't a requirement for a sport.


This ESPN leader obviously has no idea he is talking about. He could just read Wikipedia for crying out load. Video games are Electronic Sports. Games like football are physical sports. Since when do we have only one type of sport? Water sports, Winter Sports, Mind Sports, Combat Sports, Motor Sports....


My point is in our society the term "Sport" covers a lot more than just physical sports.

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Jacanuk

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<< LINK REMOVED >> hehe the only one who has no idea is you.


Again E-sports is not a sport and not its not a physical exertion to move your hand or look at a screen.


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keeper262

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@Jacanuk @keeper262 Another person who can't read, you and the ESPN boss should hang out. I never said gaming was a physical sport (physical exertion). Even blinking counts as physical activity. Read my post before commenting please.

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1Post

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@keeper262: And, and your definition of "sport" is wrong. It MUST have physical exertion, and e-sports, chess, and other certain games do not have that.

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Baldeagle91

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> That's not a requirement for "mind sports". As such chess and bridges are recognised as sport by the international Olympic Committe