ESPN president says eSports is “not a sport”: “Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports”

Dota 2

Oh, ESPN – you were doing so well at internet comms. First, Valve triumphantly announced the news that the 2014 Dota 2 International would be broadcast live by the monolithic US sports network. And later, an unnamed source close to ESPN reported they were “delighted” by their inaugural Dota 2 viewing figures.

For a while there, it really looked like the MOBA had established a foothold for games in mainstream sports coverage. At least until somebody slid a dictaphone in front of ESPN president John Skipper.

Skipper was asked about Amazon’s Twitch acquisition at the recent Code/Media conference in New York. His answer was disconcertingly dismissive.

“It’s not a sport,” he said of eSports. “It’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports.”

That “mostly” leaves room for occasional dashes of Dota or LoL – but doesn’t exactly equal the shared electronic sporting adventure that was rumoured in the aftermath of The International’s success.

Perhaps the sportfully-named Skipper is mindful of the bewilderment regular viewers suffered after stumbling acrossDota 2 on ESPN. Or perhaps he has his definitions and sticks to them. Whatever his reasons, it’s a shame to see this mainstream MOBA crossover curtailed so quickly. What do you lot make of this?

Cheers, GamesIndustry.