American colleges are gradually offering more athletic scholarships to an unlikely group of people: gamers.
Team video game competitions, known as eSports, are slowly making their way into college athletic programs. TNL Media estimates that 655 students from 40 American universities will receive a total of $4.1 million in scholarship money to play video games this year.
This new idea of video game scholarships started at Robert Morris University in 2014. According to NBC News, the school’s eSports director, Kurt Melcher, was met with doubts when he first presented the proposal to the administration. The school ultimately decided to fund the project, and it has reaped the rewards. The school expects 90 students will be competing for five different titles this year.
This growing industry offers tremendous financial benefits to collegiate gamers. According to NBC News, a varsity eSports scholarship at Robert Morris University pays for 70 percent of a student’s tuition.
The popularity of collegiate eSports continues to grow. In 2015, University of Pikeville and Maryland University offered eSports scholarships. Now, TNL Media projects that 60 colleges will offer eSports scholarships by 2018.
It was only a matter of time until eSports made their way into the college athletics scene. The eSports industry has been growing for years. Its success is spearheaded by its massive fan base. League of Legends has 100 million monthly players according to Forbes.
According to CNN, the “League of Legends” World Championship was watched by 36 million people, which was more viewers than the NBA Finals. This support has generated massive profits.
Newzoo reported the total revenue of eSports in 2015 was $325 million. In 2016, it was $493 million. By the end of 2017, the revenue is expected to reach $696 million. Brands are projected to spend a total of $517 million. The brand spending is expected to double by 2020, which would push the eSports revenue up to $1.5 billion.
Some people might view video games as a waste of time, and some argue that video games don’t offer the physical benefits of traditional college sports. Regardless, there’s clearly a large market for eSports. The largest eSports market is in North America. The revenue was $257 million in 2017, and it’s projected to reach $607 million by 2020.
The growth of the eSports industry speaks volumes about the accessibility of technology in America. According to CNN, 90 percent of Americans own some kind of computerized gadget. Society has gotten to a point where access to video games is just as convenient as access to a playground.
We have such easy access to technology, which is why the eSports industry is booming. And the industry will keep growing in America, and all around the world.
Considering North America’s large eSports market and the easy access people have to technology, more universities ought to offer collegiate gaming opportunities.
Americans have an undeniable interest in eSports, and they should be able to continue pursuing that interest in college.