Since the dawn of academia, it looked to have always been the jocks versus the geeks. However, it seems that now the two may be one in the same; at least at the University of Utah. The University of Utah has taken a revolutionary approach and has decided to include competitive video gaming as a viable option in sports scholarships. Hit the jump for more details.
The University of Utah is a big sports school; one of the five biggest athletic college conferences (also known as the “Power Five”) in the nation. Although, other colleges have embraced esports, the University of Utah is certainly the biggest. Utah’s involvement in a competitive gaming scholarship is making a powerful statement to other universities and their sports teams, possibly lending more validity to esports.
Currently, the University of Utah’s varsity esports team will be playing League of Legends (developed and published by Riot Games) and will be back by the Salt Lake City school’s game development program. More games will be added to the roster later in the year. The team will be competing in the Riot Games’ collegiate league. Utah’s varsity esports team will not be receiving financial support from the school’s $70 million sports programs, either. Instead, Utah will be funding its new esports venture through their Entertainment Arts and Engineering department, lauded by the Princeton Review as the best video game design program of 2016. Some other, smaller universities that are taking part in collegiate competitive video gaming are Irvine and the University of California. These schools have even built arenas on campus that are dedicated to their competitive video gaming teams.
So what exactly does this mean for the future of esports on college sports teams? Will we soon be taking bets on Warframe and Alien Swarm runs? Personally, I think anyone who can beat The Lion King video game should get a full ride scholarship to any university of their choosing. Maybe Daikatana, as well.