The worldwide leader in sports can’t stay away from esports—even if its president says there’s nothing sports-like about them.
This weekend competitive video gaming will appear on Outside the Lines, ESPN’s outlet for investigative sports reporting. The Emmy award-winning show, which regularly covers many of the most pressing topics in sports, will air a segment featuring the Collegiate Star League and interview with the group’s CEO, Duran “Xeris” Parsi.
The show will air Sunday morning at 8am ET on ESPN2.
Outside the Lines reports on many of the toughest and most controversial stories in sports with a critical eye, like its Peabody award-winning look at concussions in the National Football League. We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see whether the piece covers esports as a whole or just the burgeoning collegiate scene, but in the grand scheme they mean the same thing—even if esports aren’t sports, ESPN is certainly taking them seriously.
It’s not the first time ESPN has delved into the esports arena. The company was “delighted” with the viewership for The International, Valve’s massive Dota 2 championship, on streaming platform ESPN3. It’s gobbled up other esports programming for its online broadcasts, like the Riot World Championships and Major League Gaming’s X-Games tournaments.
The program caps off a banner year in mainstream esports coverage. The New York Times tackled esports with a five-part series. College esports appeared on HBO show Real Sports. This may not be the year esports broke into the mainstream, but it’s the one where the trend has become so large and persistent that it can’t be ignored.
ESPN certainly can’t ignore esports. Even if its president thinks its just a competition.