The world of eSports is bleeding more and more into that of professional sports.
Major eSports competitions are regularly broadcast on ESPN, and Turner’s TBS just recently announced a deal to carry an entire season of competitive “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (a first-person shooter game produced by Valve Software).
But some sports fans aren’t having it.
Enter Colin Cowherd: Fox Sports host, author, pot-stirrer. This man has a dedicated “controversy and criticism” section on his Wikipedia profile.
Cowherd’s not anti-video games, necessarily. He is, however, against the concept of people playing games competitively while being watched by fans. He’s anti-eSports.
“It’s not that I’m anti-video gaming, but because I have a belief in life that how you react to criticism defines how accurate it is. And the fact that all these eSports nerds are upset with me, I’m hitting a very, very sensitive spot,” Cowherd says on a September 29 episode.
Cowherd’s done this before. Recently, even!
Back in April, when he was still employed by ESPN, he took to his radio show to decry ESPN’s broadcasting of a “Heroes of the Storm” tournament (part of a series on ESPN called “Heroes of the Dorm,” where college teams competed).
“Somebody lock the basement door at mum’s house and don’t let ’em out,” he said, while video of the competition played in the background.
This time, however, a prominent sports star got involved. Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward heard Cowherd’s rant and responded with a simple, effective tweet:
Hayward is a longtime eSports fan, specifically “League of Legends” — the game at the center of Tech Insider’s “League of Millions” series, and also the most popular game in the world — and he proudly professes his love for it. Here’s Hayward in a blog post on his website back in October 2014:
One on one versus LeBron James? He would get crushed. We would all be witnesses to a straight up annihilation.
The reigning MVP, Kevin Durant? I’m LOLing. Go ahead and put him with Russell Westbrook. Throw Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in there, just for kicks. They’d still have no chance.
Honestly, take any five NBA players you want and put them on the same squad. It doesn’t really matter. I’d beat them all. It would be like playing a bunch of kindergartners.
I repeat: I’m the best in the game. And probably in all the other major sports, too.
No athlete on earth is as good at League of Legends as I am.
Throwing down the gauntlet!
Sadly, regardless of Hayward’s burn, and regardless of the ever-increasing mainstream acceptance of eSports, Cowherd’s onto something with his baiting of the eSports fan base. One look at Cowherd’s YouTube page reveals just how effective his baiting is:
Also, notably, despite the eSports segment on Cowherd’s show only being a five-minute conversation, his production crew has broken out pieces from the conversation to capitalise as much as possible on his pot-stirring:
Considering that the videos on his YouTube channel average under 1,000 views, the spike in views on his anti-eSports videos is strong vindication that his pot-stirring is working. All it takes is a quick scroll further down his YouTube channel’s video page to see just how effective it is:
That’s FORTY TIMES higher than anything else near it. Here’s a list of his videos by most popular:
Of the top five, two are videos of him railing against eSports.
So, yes, Cowherd is hitting a “very, very sensitive spot” — one that’s netting him far more attention than usual, which is the actual goal of his rants. In 2011, Business Insider named Cowherd one of the 10 worst sportscasters on the planet. At the time, Business Insider wrote, “Colin Cowherd is the loudest guy in the room, and he’s routinely the most uninformed person there too.”
In 2015, that statement remains woefully accurate.
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