Although many may be fighting against it, eSports is quickly growing in prominence among the major media networks. Where before eSports was considered a laughable term, major tournaments like The International have proven that competitive video game events are here to stay.
However, not all media pundits are happy about the looming change. Some have even voiced major concern about having to cover eSports events alongside MLB and NFL news. ESPN analyst Colin Cowherd, for example, said he would quit the network if forced to cover eSports in any capacity. Colin Cowherd no longer works for ESPN.
ESPN’s John Skipper made the announcement earlier today, thanking Cowherd for his contributions to the network and celebrating the controversial figure’s career. He didn’t mention, however, whether Cowherd stepped down from his post as ESPN Radio host and on-air personality, or if the network let him go. Either way, we doubt that Cowherd’s recent comments about eSports, which aired after ESPN featured the finals of the Heroes of the Dorm tournament, played a part in his departure. It’s more than likely a coincidence.
Even so, if eSports did play a part in Cowherd’s departure, it seems very likely that ESPN has put more competitive gaming coverage on their schedule. The International 2015 is set to take place later this month and while ESPN has yet to announce any air dates for the event, they have shown International matches in the past. And with the Dota 2 tournament growing in popularity every year, it only makes sense that ESPN ramp up its coverage.
Then again, Cowherd has been a controversial voice at ESPN for quite some time, and his opinions have often rubbed people the wrong way. Cowherd’s eSports comments may have been the first time mainstream gamers came into contact with his work, but the radio host has been drawing the ire of sports fans for a long time now. Taking that into account, it seems more likely that ESPN is trying to split with its more outspoken and controversial faces; within the last few months they have parted ways with Bill Simmons of Grantland and Keith Olbermann.
So, perhaps ESPN is undergoing a changing of the guard, and while eSports may not be leading the charge it’s potentially playing a part. ESPN wants hosts who are willing to accept that competitive gaming isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and anyone who wants to fight against the current is better suited somewhere else.
Do you think Colin Cowherd left ESPN because of the network’s eSports coverage? Or do you think it was a coincidence?