Terry is the coolest dude I have ever met. The 78-year-old strolled into a GameStop in 2005 when I was in there buying a game and told the clerk he needed "three new things for his DS." The manager later told me Terry played about five games a week and was always on top of what was coming out -- playing games helped him "pass the time" since his wife died, while keeping his mind sharp. When I'm 78 I want to be like Terry, but I'll be damn sure I'm not like Colin Cowherd when I'm 51.
On Monday, Cowherd made a grand declaration that he would "retire" if ESPN ever forced him to talk about video games. All because ESPN2 elected to show "Heroes of the Dorm" on Sunday night. Cowherd is a dinosaur, whether he knows it or not. This pejorative has nothing to do with age and everything to do with perspective. It's not a phrase used to say "this person is old," but rather "this person is out of touch." Not everyone who works for ESPN understood eSports, and that's OK. What many of them didn't do, however, was tread the supremely well-worn path of nerd-shaming.
It's not just video game fans, or nerds, or lovers of nerd culture who should be offended by what he said. What he did, willingly or not, was support the notion that the world of sports is little more than a jockocracy. Forget that Jazz forward Gordon Hayward plays League of Legends, that Jeremy Lin considers himself a serious Dota 2 player, or that former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe uses social media to discuss Bloodborne or his own love of eSports. In Cowherd's book they're just nerds ... all of them.
This kind of talk shouldn't surprise anyone who knows about Cowherd, a man who's made a career by going after the lowest-hanging fruit. One day he'll gleefully assume Skip Bayless' mantle as the worldwide leader's hot takes ombudsman, and it's going to be hilarious to see how he reconciles this with eSports.
Deep down, he's probably worked out the truth: that ESPN needs eSports more than eSports needs ESPN. The average viewer is in a demographic the network needs. This is a market that already has a captive, active audience that has used their own methods to help generate millions of dollars in prizes and help make these "nerds" six-figure salaries with huge endorsement contracts.
If nothing else, "Heroes of the Dorm" reminded us just how awesome Michelle Beadle is in relation to her former ESPN co-host. No, she didn't understand what was happening, and there were a fair share of bemused jokes, but most importantly she wasn't shaming anyone.
No joke, these announcers are killing it. I don't have a damn clue what I'm watching, but they won't let me leave.— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) April 27, 2015
It should be noted that Beadle's adorable pug is named "Leroy Jenkins," presumably after the well-known World of Warcraft meme. The point is: She gets it.
We no longer live in a world where there are four TV channels and no Internet. There are plenty of avenues for people to become connected with their passions, and something merely existing isn't an affront to you. It's not about understanding something, it's about respecting it -- respecting that people have passions that don't align with yours. This isn't about wanting a man to quit a job he loves (hollow threat or not), it's about asking for just enough respect not to outwardly shame people.
Until then, Cowherd will be Homer Simpson yelling out his car window because it makes him feel superior.