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ESports Will Never Be Sports But Who Really Cares?

The University of Utah will give letterman jackets to nerds and Darren Rovell is still terrible.

The University of Utah this week announced that it will become the first school from a Power Five conference – the ones that play for the college football championship – to launch a varsity esports program. That’s competitive video game playing, which means the jokes on this one are low-hanging fruit, so let’s just get them out of the way quickly.


First and foremost, where was this when I was in college? Because maybe I could’ve been a college athlete after all.

What’s next, varsity Beirut? Competitive bong-making?

Sure, it sounds great now, but just wait for the Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start scandal of 2019.

Okay, are we good now? Because as news goes, this is actually pretty cool, even if you have no interest whatsoever in esports, and let’s be honest, odds are you don’t. It’s sports because the word “sports” is in it, and it’s competitive, but the only way you’re into it is if you’re playing, or if the person whose place your hanging out with is playing and you’re a couple beers in. It’s been on TV, and it’s terrible, but that’s not the point.

Anytime that there’s intercollegiate competition and the NCAA isn’t involved, it’s a delight. The esports team – currently a club – at Utah is not part of the athletic department, but the Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program. Being competitive at playing video games while learning about designing video games is connected to education at the school in a way that college sports generally are not. Maybe if college football was run under the auspices of neuroscience programs, but even then…

“I don’t think it should be odd that any sort of player – a chess player, a lacrosse player, a football player, or a ‘League of Legends’ player – to be able to support and represent their university in an official capacity,” said Angela Klingsieck, the executive director of Utah’s Crimson Gaming Club, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Klingsieck is right, of course, and it’s great to see a big-time sports school ready to give scholarships to nerds for their nerd sports, something I say in my full capacity as a nerd. Colleges are always telling you how they want to attract students who are great at lots of different things. “If you’re a great piano player, or really good at chemistry, blah, blah, blah…” was a pitch you heard on any campus tour you ever took.

Utah is ready to put its money where its mouth is.


Speaking of money and mouths, let’s check in with ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell on Twitter, which requires switching to incognito mode because we’ve been blocked for two years after comparing him unfavorably to toilets. For more on why that is, just peruse Deadspin’s vast archive of his crapulence.

What are we missing out on by being blocked? Vital information on pimento cheese sandwiches at The Masters being two cents less expensive, after adjusting for inflation, than they were 20 years ago. This was followed by a tweet saying that the pimento cheese sandwich at The Masters is second only to mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby among overrated sports “food/drink.”

Having never had the pimento cheese sandwich, nor having even ever heard of it before this, there is absolutely no way that it can possibly be overrated. It is a pimento cheese sandwich.

“Perhaps the issue isn’t so much what’s on the sandwich as where it’s eaten,” opined Sheri Castle of Southern Living magazine. “Just as seafood never tastes as it does at the waters’ edge and French food is best when eaten within sight of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps the secret ingredient in the Masters Pimento cheese is the Masters itself. Any sandwich eaten beyond the perimeter of Augusta National will simply never measure up.”

That is, quite simply, not true. If you’ve got a good fishmonger or a skilled chef, seafood and French food can taste great anywhere. What’s being described here is a sort of culinary Stockholm syndrome, because, again, it is a pimento cheese sandwich.

By the same token, how could strawberries and cream be overrated? It’s strawberries and cream.

Being popularly tied to an event does not make a food item overrated. If you want an overrated sports food item, here it is: the Shake Shack burger at Citi Field. People line up and miss multiple innings of Mets games to eat them. They’re fine burgers, but not even the best burgers on the field level in Flushing. Those would be the beefy delights served at the Keith’s Burgers stand. Those even come with a Tootsie Pop, because that’s how great and not overrated Keith Hernandez is.



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