Is competitive gaming a legitimate sport?

HBO's "Real Sports" debates merits of eSports.

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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.

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