Sunday, November 4, 2018

Made The Big Time At Last

Watching the world go by
Surprising it goes so fast
Johnny looked around him
And said "Well I made the big time at last."
--Shooting Star by Bad Company

I was watching some college football yesterday* on ESPN. If you've ever seen a sporting event on ESPN, you'd know that a staple of ESPN's coverage is the ubiquitous ticker at the bottom of the screen that every other sportscast seems to have added to their own coverage. The ticker covers all sorts of sports, and a measure of a sport's popularity in the US is whether it gets a line on the ticker. For example, about 20 years ago you'd never have seen soccer on the ticker outside of MLS scores, but now there's coverage of the Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga, and Italy's Serie A.**

Even knowing this fact, I was surprised to see this on the ticker yesterday:

I know that eSports has been broadcast on ESPN and other channels in the past, but this took me by surprise. Oh, not that FNatic lost --I don't follow eSports enough to know whether FNatic had won any LoL Championships since xPeke left the team-- but that League of Legends was even on the ticker at all.

Well done, eSports. You've now made it to the big time.

And I'd love to have been in a bar somewhere watching a bunch of college football fans when THAT showed up on the ticker for the first time.

*Yes, American football. And "watch" is a relative term here, as I was cleaning and doing the laundry.

**As a measure of soccer's penetration into the US monolith, NBC broadcasts the Premier League, FOX Sports the Bundesliga, and ESPN will show the occasional Serie A and La Liga match. ESPN and FOX also share broadcast rights for MLS, and ESPN streams the second tier US league the USL over its ESPN+ service. Even the National Women's Soccer League gets airplay on ESPN, and anyone who says that the women's league doesn't have quality soccer hasn't watched a match. Quite a few players on the US, Canadian, Brazilian, and other national teams play in the NWSL. While I doubt that soccer will ever displace American football in the national consciousness, soccer is rapidly closing the gap in popularity between it and the other "big four" American sports leagues: baseball's MLB, basketball's NBA, football's NFL, and hockey's NHL.

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