ESPN has decided to pull the broadcast of the X Games Apex Legends Invitation after mass shootings took place in El Paso, TX, and Dayton, OH. Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau, a prominent figure in the esports scene, revealed an email from the company on Twitter announcing the decision.
ESPN and ABC has made the decision not to air the TV broadcast of the X Games Apex Legends EXP Invitational that was scheduled for this weekend, in response to the recent mass shootings, according to an ABC Affiliate TV station source pic.twitter.com/6BMwdbk93t
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 8, 2019
The tournament was due to be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, August 11, but will be replaced in the broadcast line up. The show would have consisted of a highlight show from the X Games Minneapolis Apex Legends Invitation from August 2 and 3.
Since the shootings occurred, renewed calls have come from prominent politicians and public figures blaming everything people can think of for the kind of mass shootings that recently took place. There is also a renewed focus on blaming violent media, particularly video games, for the shootings.
Evidence of links between violent video games and actual acts of violence in real life is thin on the ground, however. Study after study has repeatedly questioned the validity of claims that engaging with violent games will lead to violence in real life.
Video games and mental health seem to be the go-to areas for blame after the recent shootings. This is despite no known link between violent games and violent acts being found, and recent moves to roll back restrictions on people with mental impairments being able to purchase guns. As usual, the post-shooting cycle has entered into a blame game where very little of substance happens.
Even the links between mental health and mass-shootings tend to be vague, as shown by a New York Times report. According to researchers, about one in five mass murderers are likely to be psychotic or delusions, but four in five will present with no diagnosable disorder.
Does any of this mean that ESPN should not have pulled the broadcast? In my honest opinion, I have no issues with the choice that they made. It is common to see broadcasters change their lineup in the event of a tragic event, often driven by simply empathy for the people affected. Probably one of the most famous cases was the changing of a promotional piece for a Spiderman movie which featured the Twin Towers in New York in the wake of the September 11 attack on the city.