Should Playing Video Games Be A College Varsity Sport?

Varsity Sport

Should Playing Video Games Be A College Varsity Sport? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com

The University of Michigan has announced it will be making esports a varsity event with students able to major or minor in playing videos games as soon as the 2022-23 academic year. The change came after a $4 Million donation was made to the “eWolverines” program by a prominent alum who is looking to increase profits at his own business and bring Michigan into the 21st century of college esports. However, despite the millions of dollars in prize money available every year by wearing a headset and using a control pad, should playing video games really be a college varsity sport?

Activision has been around the world of video games for as long as I can remember, going back as far as when Atari was the must-have gaming console. Last week the CEO of Activision Blizzard Robert Kotick donated $4 Million to his alma mater Michigan to jumpstart their esports program. The donation will allow one of the nation’s leaders in research and education to make playing video games a varsity sport, becoming one of nearly 200 universities to do so. It is estimated by USA Today that nearly $16 Million in scholarships are awarded by these school for student-gamers to play, earn degrees and go on to have careers in the world of video game development.

On the surface this concept may sound crazy, because what can college student learn by playing video games or even watching others do so. But with multi-million-dollar tournaments takes place in venues such as the United States Tennis Center in New York City, the ability to make a living for those in their teens and 20’s is very real thanks to video games. 

Now, rightfully so, colleges are seeing that emerging marketplace and are looking to provide the best education for those entering that field. One way they are doing this is by making esports a varsity sport and offering scholarships to the best and brightest in this field.

Many full-time “gamers” will tell you that by 25 years old you are past your prime and no longer able to compete at the national or international level of competition where prize money reaches seven figures. For those who didn’t secure a five, six, or even seven-figure payday while in smaller tournaments in high school, earning a scholarship to a school like Michigan or Ohio State, two of the Big Ten schools that have an esports program, is their golden ticket. Allowing them to find a career in an industry that is expected to reach $1.5 Billion in revenue by 2023.

I must admit I went into writing this take fully prepared to shred the idea of making esports a varsity event at Michigan. It didn’t take long for me to understand this field is growing rapidly and will need those who grew up playing the games we all know, become the developers for the next generation of games. 

You must also credit Robert Kotick and people like him who understand that by funding college programs, the level of talent that will join their companies in the future will be better than those from generations past, making the entire industry more competitive, and likely more profitable for those in it. Sure, it’s in the best interest of those at Activision and other gaming companies to sponsor tournaments to bring attention to their products, but that is not much different from other companies looking to find the best in their fields while also promoting themselves along the way.

For better or worse, gaming and esports are a part of our culture now, with kids now able to apply for scholarships to major universities in order to play and develop the next big game that will blow away the marketplace and set sales records. In order to do that, esports needed to continue to evolve, just as computer programing did decades ago. It’s all progress, and it happens right before our eyes every day, even if it takes a little while to notice it and appreciate it. 

 


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Should Playing Video Games Be A College Varsity Sport? | TooAthletic.com

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