Utah is adding another varsity sport to campus with esports. Yep, that means you can get a scholarship to play video games at The U now. All joking and mocking aside, and I know it’s out there, this is awesome. Esports are a big thing in the world, and up until a couple of years ago, have been much more niche and really under reported on. The first time it was likely exposed to the masses was when ESPN broadcast a “Heroes of the Storm” tournament called “Legends of the Dorm,” which matched schools against each other for prizes.
esports have been around for a long time, and professional video game players make a ton of money for a living, and not unlike many other smaller sports, really thrive off of sponsorships. With the growth of streaming platforms, like Twitch, there are even more revenue possibles in that arena. This is not an NCAA sanctioned thing, but if there’s money to be had, don’t be surprised if they come knocking. And I don’t know about you, but losing a game against a friend online in a game like “Halo” or “Madden” is about as frustrating or maddening as watch your favorite team lose a game... almost.
The U Athletic Department isn’t sponsoring the scholarships, but rather the EAE (Entertainment Arts and Engineering) program will be. They’re the brains behind one of the top video game development programs in the nation, according to the Princeton Review. From a write up on ESPN.com:
"We plan to support four games. Each game will have a main team, one or two substitutes and a student coach. Depending on the games, we expect around 35 total students involved. All students [players, subs and coaches] will receive a partial scholarship," EAE director Robert Kessler told ESPN. "We will have regulations for participation on the team that involve due progress toward graduation, a GPA [requirement], etc." ... click the link above for the full write up.
The first game the department will have is “League of Legends,” which has some serious competitions, I suggest you Google them.
I think it’s super cool for the U to be the first Power 5 program to offer this, and will attract kids from all over, with many different backgrounds. And as our friend Joseph Silverzweig said online on Twitter, it could really help lure people in for the U’s great STEM programs, and encourage young people into that more.
You can also see more about the new varsity team at Utah by checking out their own official article here: https://unews.utah.edu/varsity-esports-comes-to-the-u/