The Pipe Bomb #12: The ESPN Degeneration

Sometimes in life, you have to question someone’s mindset. This is one of those times. ESPN is known as the #1 worldwide leader in sports, and MLG is the recognized name of competitive gaming. So really, what could go wrong with this partnership? They’re taking the most reviled game and placing it in the X-Games in Austin as an actual sport.

Yes, in other words, gamers can win medals by playing video games, so what’s so critical in my opinion? First off, the X-Games are known for things like skateboarding, BMX, skiing, and snowboarding, but competitive gaming? Really? What’s next, extreme dodgeball? Pretty soon, we might be seeing ESPN 8 “The Ocho” and if you know what that’s a reference to, give yourself two thumbs up.

So what’s my issue with this? I mean, this is a match made in heaven, at least to the die hard COD fans it is. Just imagine little Johnny saying to his mother “I wanna be like those guys, get me Call Of Duty for Christmas mommy so I can win a gold medal.” What in unholy fuck could inspire you to be like little Johnny or any of these MLG “athletes” and aspire to win a medal by playing video games?

On paper, this seems like a good concept because it gives gamers an opportunity to show what they can do to a national audience, even a worldwide audience. In practice, this not only gives ESPN a bad name, gives gaming a bad name, but also promotes one of the most, if not the most, despised game of all-time, and probably will convince Activision to promote every future COD game as part of the X-Games despite the fact that every game is the same, just made by different developers.

In an article on ESPN.com, MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni said he wants COD to be a tradition for both the summer and winter X-Games.

“It’s going to be [MLG] bringing our high-level production into a really full weekend,” MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni said. “We’re looking to build something here that hopefully becomes a tradition at both the summer and the winter X Games over time.”

“We are for the first time in a position where we have the league structure, the broadcast piece, the direct access to media and brands who are interested in advertising and marketing to this audience, and it’s built in such a way where there’s this tremendous scale in front of us,” DiGiovanni said.

 

While I applaud their attempt to add content to the X-Games, why gaming? What qualifies gaming as a sport and gamers as athletes, especially the slugs of the MLG circuit? To be an athlete not only requires the skill, which no doubt gamers have, but also the off-scene respect too. If you do it for money, you not only tarnish the reputation of gaming, but also your own reputation and makes young gamers believe that this is what they’re supposed to be.

While I don’t think competitive gaming qualifies as a sport, there are some who will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. ESPN’s efforts to diversify the X-Games aren’t the point of this pipe bomb. Diversifying the X-Games is all well and good, but really, Call Of Duty? Why not Starcraft, League Of Legends, or NBA 2K14 even? This is half directed at ESPN and the MLG COD base because you’re doing more harm than good.