eSports are at a crossroads. For centuries, traditional athletics have honored the presence of the shirtless dad as a cheerleader for his children’s teams. The shirtless dad may run right up to the dugout on a hot summer’s day to shout advice to a team of kids who already have a coach. The shirtless dad may jump up from his lawn chair, knocking lukewarm Coors into the grass, to cheer his child on as they sprint across the field for a goal during an important soccer game.
Now, leading Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players have to reckon with whether or not a similar place of respect—or grudging tolerance—can be made for the shirtless dad who’s wandered into their midst.
This inflection point was reached during a Counter-Strike tournament held last Saturday when the feed showing competitor Gabe “Spongey” Greiner was momentarily filled with the belly of his shirtless dad. While in the middle of an online match, the wonderful father arrives bare-chested and carrying a plate of food for his son. Someone giggles. The commentator warns that we “might be seeing a quick little time-out here” before another voice sarcastically yells, “Get out of my room, dad!”
The video, already excellent, then goes on to really cement itself as an all-timer when, in the moments immediately after Spongey’s dad leaves, another competitor exhales a huge vape cloud as an exclamation point on the whole thing.
Sadly, as Vice reports, Spongey’s team, Bad News Bears, lost their match with a 2-0 result. It will be tempting for the players to blame their bad fortune on the shirtless dad, but true athletes know that there will always be distractions to contend with while competing. Sometimes, those distractions may come in the form of a shirtless dad bearing snacks for his son. If Counter-Strike wants to be considered alongside older, better-established sports, the wobbling bellies of these enthusiastic parents will have to be accepted as par for the course. Thank you, Mr. Spongey, for paving the way.
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