Video games could help pay for college.
Video games have come full circle from hobby to pro league. Some colleges are adding scholarships for the best students talented with the controller. UC Irvine is leading this charge. It recently announced that starting in fall 2017 Overwatch players will have a chance at a scholarship for playing the game. Overwatch joins League of Legends in UC Irvine’s roster of games played competitively for academic money.
The Scholarship package is worth $2,500. The catch 15-20 hours of practice weekly, plus team meetings, workouts competitions and community service. Players also receive access to an Esports arena on campus. Fair value I would say.
Though here’s where it gets ridiculous. The school is providing coaches, team psychologist and a mess of analytic and supports staff. It’s a game people. A hobby, fun, not life, or death. If you need someone to break down your every move in a video game you may not have your priorities in order.
This is a club team anyway. Club teams fall under sports teams in hierarchy, it’s just how it happens. Club sports usually don’t have scholarships added to them. You don’t get scholarships to join and affiliate with academic clubs. Why does a hobby deserve scholarships, it’s not an academic pursuit?
Sports aren’t academic pursuits either, yet they get big money thrown at top athletes. To which I say, yes this is more than acceptable. Those athletes bring in money for the university. So much that there are arguments they should be paid in more than just scholarship money.
Esports could bring in money for the university. Though Esports are just starting out and the number of schools with them is small. It won’t surprise me if you could not fill out a full 68 team NCAA bracket for Esports. While in basketball they extended from 64 to 68 and still have bubble teams not get in. You aren’t going to get a big TV contract if you don’t have a lot of schools playing. Same with not having big name schools involved. UC Irvine is in The Big West conference. Not really a power five, or even 10-15 conference. You need the hook to draw the audience in and I don’t quite think Esports has it yet.
Esports maybe the next revolution, coming. It is great that anyone can with enough practice and dedication be good at games, unlike sports where talent goes the farthest. It’s wonderful to see serious and competitive play in something other than sports. Though I just don’t think you should throw money at video gamers at the expense of other clubs. Give the club money and then have the members support it. If the NCAA sanctions Esports then go ahead and add scholarships.