E-Sports college scholarships on the rise

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E-Sports college scholarships on the rise

PHOTO BY VINA NGUYEN/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY VINA NGUYEN/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY VINA NGUYEN/THE PIONEER

By Vina Nguyen, CONTRIBUTOR

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Video games haven’t always been viewed as a positive thing. Over the years, video gaming has become very popular and many people play competitively as a career and make loads of money from it.
High school students who are avid video gamers and are passionate about it are able to obtain an esports college scholarship and further their esports goals and dreams by being a part of a collegiate esports team.
An esports college scholarship would allow high school gamers to begin their journey as a competitive video gamer.
Some may be reading this and question what “esports” are. It is the competitive world of video gaming and it has become more popular over the years. Video game competitors compete with other people in different leagues or teams. There are many different games played such as Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and more. Games are viewed by millions of people on television or by live streaming.
High schools can form their own esports teams and work with organizations such as the National Association of Collegiate esports (NACE) which also work with their partners such as BeRecruited, Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), and many more which help student-athletes get connected with scouts and NACE college esports teams to further their esports career.
One might think that becoming an official esports team may be complicated but it is not.
“Becoming a member of NACE isn’t too difficult. The biggest hurdle is that there is a fee to be a member,” said Matthew Williamson, the Head Coach of an esports team at Marietta College located in Ohio. “Part of this is to ensure that schools are taking esports seriously when joining NACE. The requirements to join NACE are pretty straightforward.”
Esports college scholarships are not that much different from regular sports scholarships. The qualifications for both types of scholarships are similar. Students must maintain a good grade point average in order to stay on the team and show their dedication towards their passion.
However, there are some differences.
“The biggest difference is that esports isn’t part of the NCAA. This means some of NCAA rules don’t apply to esports. For example, Division III schools are not allowed to give sports scholarships,” Williamson said. “However, they are allowed to give esports scholarships. Another example is that NCAA athletes have to follow amateurism rules, so if they’re receiving an athletic scholarship, there are restrictions on how to receive external money.”
Williamson says that amateurism rules don’t apply to esports players. Students are still able to stream on Twitch regardless if they are on an esports scholarship or not.
This type of college scholarship is very unique and it would benefit high school gamers who are serious about furthering their esports career in college. Not every single student in high school is an athlete and will earn a sports college scholarship.
With esports scholarships, it would open up doors for students who are interested in playing in a team and in college.
“As with any scholarship, an esports scholarship can help reduce the cost of going to college. With the cost of tuition rising, it is important for high school students to find various scholarship opportunities,” Willamson said. “For some players, an esports scholarship could be the difference between affording to go to a specific college and not affording to go. By being able to attend college, students will have an opportunity to get an education that can lead to a variety of career opportunities.”
Not just anyone deserves an esports college scholarship. There are some characteristics and qualifications a potential candidate should have.
“To be able to qualify for this kind of scholarship, you’d need the same qualities as any other athlete looking for a college scholarship which would be an insane work ethic, a competitive fire, and a genuine passion for the sport,” said Scott DeSelms, a local Bay Area online gamer and Twitch Affiliate. “I’ve never heard of any other instance where an education system can recognize and reward someone for their talents in the world of competitive gaming. I think that alone sets it apart from any other scholarship I’ve ever heard of. It’s truly a beautiful thing.”
With having an esports team, you need to have a dedicated area for players to play and practice along with the equipment such as gaming computers which can cost up to $2,000 to $2,500 apiece. If you have a team of six, that’s going to cost roughly $12,000 to $15,000 just on the computers. Other things to consider are headphones, keyboards, and a mouse. A number of high schools have very limited funding, so it might be difficult to find enough money to start an esports program.
Although it is exciting that students can earn money for college playing video games, there are people that may oppose that idea such as some schools, universities, and the players’ parents.
“The older generations don’t understand video games as well as younger generations. That’s just because they didn’t grow up with video games like we have,” Williamson said. “Some of them believe that playing video games will ‘rot your brain’ or impair your ability to socialize in the ‘real world’… If they keep covering esports, and more people watch those broadcasts, the public will more likely be accepting of esports.”
Esports and competitive video gaming has become more popular and is becoming more accepted. Esports revenue will reach up to $179 million in 2022, according to Newzoo, a market intelligence for gaming and esports. If schools were to consider offering students an esports college scholarship, it would become more accepted and provide many opportunities for those who are passionate and have a love for video gaming.