For some, this weekend was a pivotal moment for esports. When the collegiate Heroes of the Storm competition, Heroes of the Dorm, was broadcast on ESPN2, it was the first time in recent history that a serious esport got serious time on television screens nationwide. Not everybody is so happy to see video games hit the airwaves, however. ESPN personality Colin Cowherd went off on the tournament earlier today, captured in the video below.
The response from esports Twitter was predictably swift and outraged.
Colin Cowherd can dislike eSports and find it stupid. What isn’t alright is making fun of suicide and showing zero research into his subject
— The Esports Writer (@FionnOnFire) April 27, 2015
Nice how some sports radio guy is making fun of video games. @ESPN_Colin shows us ESPN’s true colors. Self absorbed, babbling idiots.
— SeacoastBevLab (@SeacoastBevLab) April 27, 2015
Lost all respect for @ESPN_Colin today. Could’ve made his point this morning with a little more class for having a national radio show.
— Zach (@Zach_Kondrach32) April 27, 2015
Cowherd hasn’t responded, though we’re guessing it won’t amount to anything more than nuanced”shut up nerds.”
For actual esports fans, the tournament was a lot of fun to watch, and it also raised awareness of the industry. In addition to favorable coverage on sites like SBNation, the tournament yielded lots of social media interaction with sporting bigwigs, such as Bill Walton.
Heroes of the Dorm – I have never been so proud. Go Pac12, no truck stops here. Just reporting the facts
— Bill Walton (@BillWalton) April 27, 2015
The finalist team from UC Berkeley got a shout out from their school’s Twitter.
Last year, ESPN president John Skipper’s said that an esport is “not a sport.” And combined with Cowherd’s rant, you might get a sense that ESPN is somehow completely out-of-touch with the audience it’s trying to court. But Scott “SirScoots” Smith, a long-time esports supporter and broadcaster, was onsite working with Blizzard and ESPN. And he hinted on Twitter that most ESPN employees were far more in favor of esports than Cowherd and others were letting on.