Not so fast, Bryant Gumbel. Esports are cooler than you think.

We here at Kill Screen believe that two teams of intensely skilled gold farmers going at it is a wholly worthwhile activity. But the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily see it that way. When guests on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel recently entertained the question of whether esports count as a real sport, the predictable outcome was astonishment, knee-slapping, and a round of laughter. And also this affirmation: “That it’s not a sport, it’s a game.”

In the clip below, you can see the problem. One is that no one has a clue about what actually goes on in an esports match. This isn’t totally the pundits’ fault. As we’ve talked about before, esports have a visibility problem. It’s much harder to understand the finer mechanics of DOTA 2 than it is to familiarize yourself with the intricacies of, say, tennis. We all know its really difficult to crush a yellow ball at 90 m.p.h. with pinpoint precision, but it’s harder to be impressed when the skills of the players involve strategy and keystrokes that aren’t readily apparent. 

The other problem is cultural. Esports are still seen as a “nerd” thing, to quote the clip. This is just an outdated and unfair bias which will diminish with time, as the vast majority of people I know who play games like DOTA are very cool and ambitious men and women. Admittedly it could be that I just know cool men and women, but the last time I checked sports have nothing to do with the coolness factor. Case in point: synchronized swimming. Esports are so much cooler than synchronized swimming.