Robert Morris this fall evidently will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game “League of Legends.” It’s a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes.
As esports take root, they may occupy a spot similar to conventional sports. Seeing how this is the first college to offer scholarships for playing competitively in esports, it may very well spark more cases throughout the U.S. That’s not to say that League of Legends competition did not exists at the collegiate level, there are certainly it’s own ladder and ranking system and does offer a route into the professional scene. But this scholarship being given like any other athletics scholarship, helps legitimize esports as a viable competition if not a sport.
My schedule has changed throughout the years. One schedule I had was waking up at 5 pm and playing until 12 pm the next day. The professional gamer’s schedule is playing into the early morning, but that’s getting more and more difficult for me. That’s when people play, though, so you just have to deal with it. -Mason Cobb, professional Halo 3 player
On the other hand, becoming a professional player in videogames is like becoming a professional player in any other sports. It takes dedication. If we were to log the same hours they spend refining their skills on their games to hours other athletes spend training, they would spend comparable hours training. Most U.S. professional gamers dedicate at least 8 hours to playing. But it’s not something anyone can do, same as in sports. Professional gamers adhere to strict schedules and time tables of training, both in their chosen game and physically. “A sound mind resides within a sound body.” It also certainly helps the image they wish to promote.
This of course will spark some controversy, mainly in terms of “should scholarships really be given to people who play video games?” It’s not just any random who gets the scholarship, it’s competitive like any other scholarship. This may also influence the debate on whether or not esports should be considered a sport. This has been going on for a while and esports advertising and set-up has been made to explicitly resemble the format of any other sports coverage. It follows a regular seasonal tournament schedule, has commentators, play-by-play replay analysis of spectacular or game changing plays and has a set of strict rules to adhere to. Esports has done a lot to shape it’s image into a relatable structure and deserves it’s distinction as a sport or it’s own categorization.