Are consoles the new stadium?: The world of Esports in college

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Heath Rice

Local Saint Ambrose gamer Gabe Smith after winning a Battle for the Beehive tournament this summer.

Heath Rice, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Sports have been a large part of American culture and they have shaped not only athleticism, but also media, sponsorships and even the opportunities for huge scholarships. 

Hundreds of athletes around America are offered huge sums of money in scholarships to bring their athletic talents onto the field. 

Even a few students from PV, like senior Aidan Kilstrom, have received multiple offers to play collegiate sports starting in fall of 2022 “As for now, I have 12 division one offers to play football including Harvard, Air Force, Navy and Colgate,” he stated in an interview last Friday. 

The 21st century has brought immense digital advancements and accessibility to watch events like sports from anywhere in the world. Along with this new accessibility a new form of sport has emerged: E-sports.

This form of competitive gaming has taken colleges by storm in the past few years. Esports is a form of competitive gaming where players compete to be the best at their game. Thousands of colleges around the nation are building their rosters and creating competitive gaming leagues. 

Whether it is a team specializing in popular first person shooting games like Call Of Duty or classic fighters like Mortal Kombat, all games are welcome. A local college in Davenport, Saint Ambrose University, has a gaming team of their own. 

The university has offered scholarships for popular games like Super Smash Bros for their student body. A PV alumni, Gabe Smith, had received one of these scholarships for his incredible ability in the game.

Smith offered some insight on how the gaming league works. “I competed in tournaments and after some time and results, I ended up getting scouted and they offered me a scholarship,” he said.

Saint Ambrose scouted Smith just like thousands of other schools hunting for players around the nation. According to an article on Esports, “Robert Morris University was the first college in the U.S. to offer video gaming scholarships, where students can earn up to $19,000 a year in gaming scholarships” it stated. 

Following suit, thousands of private and public colleges started to offer aid for those who have a passion for gaming. Unlike physical sports, E-sports take up less time and require nothing more than a gaming console and some way to stream them.

Just like physical sports, there are practices and training for tournaments. “It has given me something to focus on and work towards outside of my general class considering I have practice 4 times a week and constant competitions,” Smith stated. 

Ambrose’s weekly tournaments, known as Battle for the Beehive, allow gamers from any school or age group to play a variety of games. These events allow teachers and scouts to watch players in their element. 

Smith’s passion and drive have allowed him to stay focused and strive for the top place in his weekly tournaments. This determination and skill has allowed him to maintain a strong win rate and has held first place for the past month in weekly tournaments. 

These new scholarships open thousands of doors for those looking for scholarships outside of academics and athletic abilities. 

Gaming has changed the entire nature of sports as world tournaments like Dragon Ball Fighters, Red Bull World Tour and those on ESPN are accessible to stream and watch anywhere. 

According to a survey answered by teens, “Thirty-six percent of adolescents (80% of boys and 20% of girls) played video games.” 

With such a huge number of gamers in the United States and as games continue to become more accessible and competitive, the future remains unknown. E-sports are on track to be worth over 1.8 billion dollars by the end of 2022. 

To all of those who have a passion for gaming and a drive to compete, then ESports may be a future full of bright possibilities. 

To all who want to give gaming a shot, Smith offered a bit of advice: “You need to get beat to improve. So stick with it even if it seems rough and you are continually losing because you will learn through these losses. You need a proper mindset to learn and improve.”