Nick Wingfield reports at the New York Times that Loc Tran, a top player on the school’s competitive video game team, became a big man on campus at San Jose State University in Northern California after helping San Jose State claw its way to victory in June over California State University, Fullerton, in a tournament watched online by nearly 90,000 people. When the new school year started this fall, classmates’ heads swiveled toward him when professors said his name during roll call. “I thought that was pretty cool,” says Tran. Winning big video game competitions, also known as e-sports, can sometimes earn players several years’ worth of tuition money and, in a possible sign of the future, the athletic department of Robert Morris University Illinois in Chicago created an official video game team this fall, offering the same sort of scholarships given to athletes playing soccer, football, and ice hockey.
The rise in e-sports has been so abrupt, many schools have not determined what to make of it. Carter Henderson, a spokesman for the University of Washington’s athletics program, said no one from the department was familiar enough with e-sports to discuss the topic. Game companies say it is too early to predict how university administrations will become involved in e-sports. “This is just how basketball was in the 1940s,” says Christopher Wyatt. “A lot of the structure and organization you see in more formal athletics, that groundwork is still being laid down here.” In the meantime, game companies and collegiate league organizers predict that college e-sports could become a pipeline for the growing professional circuit. “We really want e-sports to become as ingrained in the academic environment as anything else," says Tyler Rosen like "speech competitions, football competitions."
(Score: 4, Insightful) by bradley13 on Thursday December 11 2014, @11:50AM
I don't care if it's football or DOTA - offering scholarships for non-academic skills is just dumb. The vast majority of colleges lose money on their athletic programs [acenet.edu]. Athletics is a money sink that has nothing to do with their primary mission of teaching.
I paid my own way through college in a work study program. I still vividly remember standing in line at the cashier, holding my check for a semester's tuition. For the guy in front of me, it went a little differently: the cashier handed him a check, for pretty much the amount I was about to pay. Why? Because he was a basketball player. The school also put these idiots into special classes in the business department, so that they wouldn't fail out. Since engineers were required to fit the the odd business class into our schedules, occasionally one of us wound up in one of these classes. Where the professor would spend two weeks explaining how to calculate interest on a bank account, and then pass the athletes anyway, after they failed the test. It was irritating as hell, to see my hard-earned money subsidizing this crap.
Scrap it all. Let the professional leagues set up junior leagues, if that's what they want. If the college ties is so important, pay the colleges money for the right to use their logo. If the players want to go to college, they can do it the same way any other working stiff does: by managing their time and money carefully. Colleges have no business providing athletic scholarships.
Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.