Robert Morris University has become the first University to recognize competitive video games as a varsity sports. Does this mean we’ll soon see stadiums full of crowds cheering on a game of “Blades of Steel”?
Probably not. Robert Morris University, a non-profit university in Chicago, is offering a scholarship under their athletic division for competitive “League of Legends” players. The scholarship, which cover roughly half the cost of tuition and board, is being offered to potential students. The team will play other competitive teams from around the country in hopes of making it to the North American Collegiate Championship, where participants can earn up to 30,000 in scholarships. This isn’t the first team we’ve seen come out of a University, as many big name university have teams, but it’s the first time we’re seeing scholarship money and athletic recognition given to a competitive gaming team. While the scholarship is currently only for competitive League of Legends players, it’s not unreasonable that one day we’ll see that expanded out to other games and genres. Although don’t hold your breath, competitive “Diddy Kong Racing” players.
The competitive gaming scene has been widely developing in the past years, and it’s no longer just introverted gamers watching on Twitch at home. Competitive gaming even has its own structured league with Major League Gaming (MLG). Competitive video game sports athletes have made entire living off their game playing, including by getting sponsorships from companies. It’s big stuff, and if this recognition of gaming as an athletic sport is any indication of the scene’s trajectory it’s likely to keep on growing. Of course the scene also has its naysayers, including ESPN’s president John Skipper who said video games weren’t a sport.
It’s a competition, right? I mean, chess is a competition, and checkers is a competition. … I’m mostly interested in doing real sports.
Thanks for your insight, Skipper!
He went onto say that he didn’t think a hoagie was a sandwich, frozen yogurt isn’t ice cream, and margarine isn’t butter.
Who knows where we’ll see competitive gaming go from here. Unlike traditional sports, it’s not a singular activity; with so many types of games out there that range in how you play who knows how video games will fall into the ranks of competitive gaming. Nevertheless, video games are developing as a social activity in new ways and becoming a bigger part of our society.