eSports Gets An Introduction To Major College Sports At The University Of Utah

from the big-time dept

We’ve been following the evolutionary milestones for eSports for some time now. What was once an event class considered equal parts fringe and foreign has made impressive strides towards the mainstream in mere years. It started with a small university granting scholarships for eAthletes, progressed into the realm of coverage on sports broadcasting giant ESPN, and made yet another leap with an eSports section of the pie being carved out by the NBA.

Not all progress towards the mainstream needs to be of a new type, of course, and eSports reached another milestone harkening back to its first, with the announcement that the University of Utah, a member of the Pac-12 Conference, has started its own varsity eSports program.

The University of Utah has announced a varsity esports program, starting with League of Legends. Part of the Pac-12 Conference, Utah is the first Power Five school to sponsor this type of program, and it doesn’t plan on stopping at one game.

The team, sponsored by the EAE video game development program, hopes to expand to a total of four games, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Students from the current campus esports group Crimson Gaming, as well as high school recruits, will be part of the team. Players will receive partial scholarships, with an eventual goal of over 30 student-athletes and coaches to be on scholarship.

There will always be arguments about whether eSports are sports in the traditional sense, as well as how good a thing it is that colleges are getting in on this at all, but from a market and industry standpoint the progression is all about interest and advertising dollars. For a school like the University of Utah to invest in this sort of thing, it’s likely it required the broadcasting success ESPN has had and the nod to that success that the NBA showed to push this along. And now that eSports has been formally introduced to one school in a Power Five conference, you should absolutely expect many of the other schools to follow suit.

The growth at this point may tend towards the exponential. Once the broadcasting and advertising revenues really start to kick in, eSports will be here in a very big way.

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Comments on “eSports Gets An Introduction To Major College Sports At The University Of Utah”

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Some Canadian says:

Important, but will be ignored.

I’m one of those idiotic millenials that actually follows esports actively (CSGO specifically, don’t much care for other games). Generally speaking most people who actually follow the scene have been dismissing this as some kind of applications-boosting gimmick, mostly since this sort of thing has happened before to some degree, gaining very little traction in the past.

It really does depend on whether this sort of “athletic” scholarship is adopted by other universities. If it is, Utah might (emphasis on might) suddenly become a hotbed for up-and-coming talent, both competitive and supportive. If not, it will just go down as another university trying to capitalize on what “kids these days” are attracted to.

hij (profile) says:

So much for closing the gender gap

Universities are making strides to close the gender gap and make the environment less toxic for women in computer science. The gamer culture has traditionally not helped the situation, so I hope that this aspect will be considered as this trend moves forward.

Also, this is not new. Engineering schools have long had dune buggy teams, snowmobile teams, and a large variety of other technology focused competitions including concrete canoes. The only difference here is that the schools are giving out scholarships specifically for the competition. The esports teams appear on the surface to be relatively passive with respect to technological creativity, and there is no reason to give these kids more perks and treat them differently than the kids who work hard to achieve success in engineering design competitions.

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