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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  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 11 Apr 2017 @ 5:57pm

    So, I guess soon Video Game Highschool will soon be a thing

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Some Canadian, 11 Apr 2017 @ 6:17pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    esportsman, 11 Apr 2017 @ 11:07pm

    esports

    im a man and always been interested in esports as im too thin and fragile to play proper sports. im also very extremely gay as well and take it in the arse as well. im extremely flexible like that. i love mens penis's

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2017 @ 11:54pm

    League? It's like starting your college with ping-pong scholarships.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2017 @ 8:30am

      Re:

      I can see your point but a ping-pong championship doesn't bring over 300 million viewers. Granted, there are likely duplicated numbers due to the nature of IPs but still.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 2:08am

        Re: Re:

        My point was league is a dumbed down version of another game in the genre. Why play/watch ping-pong when you can play/watch tennis?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Apr 2017 @ 4:22am

    It is simply awesome to watch a game being played with expertise, whatever the game is even if it's not multiplayer. It's pleasing to see games finally getting rid of the prejudice that stuck to them for almost all their history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2017 @ 4:35am

    Schools are already doing League and other esports.

    Riot runs uLoL Campus for Canadian and US colleges/universities and the Big Ten Netowrk has partnered for their division of League as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2017 @ 5:01am

    It didn't take long for the football jocks to come out of their lockers to reassert their manhood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hij (profile), 12 Apr 2017 @ 5:12am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2017 @ 5:19pm

    eSports - how to get fat, lazy, and learn to cheat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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