GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Is competitive gaming a legitimate sport?

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

No Caption Provided

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.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 830 comments about this story