eSports Milestone: University Now Offering Scholarships For eSports 'Athletes'
from the paid-to-play dept
As gaming becomes even more ingrained into the lexicon of modern entertainment, eSports, or gaming competitions, have grown in legitimacy as well. South Korea has led the way in this regard, but gaming competitions in the States have sprung up as well. Still in its relatively early stage, it’s kind of fun to watch the sport grow up, as it were, to become increasingly mainstream. Specifically, it’s fun to watch eSports cross milestones as it matures. One of those milestones was garnering corporate sponsorship. Now another checkpoint has been passed, as Robert Morris University in Chicago has added eSports to their athletic department program and will be doling out scholarships for players.
Robert Morris University Illinois is pleased to announce the addition of an online sport to its athletic program. Commonly referred to as eSports, the activity consists of organized video game competitions. Specifically, RMU students will compete in League of Legends, one of the largest and most popular eSport games. Although eSports have long been a part of the culture of gaming, competitions have seen a large surge in popularity in recent years. Robert Morris University recognizes the value and legitimacy of eSports and is excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic program.
Robert Morris University is in the process of recruiting students for the first year of competition, beginning with the fall quarter in September, 2014. RMU will join the Collegiate Star League, made up of 103 institutions of higher learning and compete against other universities including Arizona State, George Washington and Harvard. Significantly, Robert Morris University is among the first in the nation to offer substantial scholarships for members of the first RMU Varsity eSport League of Legends team. Qualified gamers can earn scholarships of up to 50% tuition and 50% room and board.
Now, while some might scratch their heads wondering why RMU is offering up tuition and board for playing video games, those same people may not be aware of the leagues in which schools compete already. There is a large high school eSports league, the High School Starleague, and a collegiate version of the Starleague that competes for scholarship money. To date, those players haven’t received any benefit directly from their university for their services, but now RMU is treating these competitors like any other athlete. Some will smirk at the idea of gamers being athletes, but those people don’t really matter. Some might also decry playing video games being rewarded with scholarship money as unworthy of higher learning institutions, but, you know, football is all about bashing your head into other people’s heads, so that’s some shaky ground to stand on.
The point is, if this trend continues, RMU won’t be the last university to embrace eSports in this manner. Gaming is growing up and it will begin to penetrate the mainstream in a way that will hopefully quiet all the moral panic hand-wringing it’s endured for far too long.