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STEELE SPORTS

Esports on the rise
By
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor
esports, steele county times, johnnie phillips

If you have a child at home who likes to play video games, or even if you are a gamer yourself, chances are that you have heard of the sports world’s newest upcoming star: Esports.

Esports – short for electronic sports – has been around for over a decade in the public eye and has garnered an extensive audience after games like Rocket League, League of Legends and Call of Duty began to blow up in popularity worldwide.

However, while Esports may not hold much value to those of you uninterested in video games, they might be a way to help pay for your kids’ college one day.

Thanks to the founding of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) in July 2016, colleges and universities across the U.S. have begun forming teams for competition as well as scholarships to attract the best players to their teams.

Already active and competing in Minnesota alone are teams at the University of Minnesota, Mankato, Concordia University – St. Paul (CSP), and Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU).

According to the University of Minnesota’s Esports website, the university has been working since 2017 to formulate a team and is currently in the late stages of looking for an official partner before building the official program.

Overall, the U.S. currently has over 130 colleges and universities with active Esports teams.

For those wondering how Esports teams practice and compete, as well as what perks come with being an Esports athlete: look no further than the investment that CSP has made into its Esports program.

Since its start in 2019, CSP has invested in a practice facility, competition arena, coaches, merchandise and a boosted social media presence.

According to the university’s Esports website, the sport has also been one of the university’s “fastest growing sports on campus.”

With the rise in popularity and investments from universities, Esports athletes are becoming able to reap the benefits of their efforts.

The Golden Bears’ Esports team currently carries over 30 athletes on its roster with all athletes currently being under scholarship.

For those interested in introducing their kids to the real possibility of competing in a college program, universities have begun dedicating parts of their websites specifically to Esports and have ways to come in contact with coaches through the site.

So, next time you’re worried about your kid having his or her eyes glued to their screen playing video games, maybe let them keep practicing.

It might just pay off down the line.

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