Back at the Naval Academy, I had a friend who was on the varsity offshore sailing team. Technically he “lettered” every year, but he refused to call himself a “varsity athlete,” because he didn’t feel he had earned the title. Of course, we always asked him to wear his “N-star” sweater (a right reserved for varsity athletes), but he never would.
I have no doubt that off-shore sailing requires a lot of skill, but it would probably be considered a fringe sport. However, we have now reached a day and age where the term “sport” has become even looser. When I went to CitySide to watch March Madness, I saw the national cornhole tournament was playing on ESPN (somehow I feel like their ratings weren’t quite as high as CBS with the basketball games). If you want to watch people race drones against each other, there is an entire televised league.
But wait, there’s more! It turns out there is actually a CStarLeague that allows college students to form teams to compete with other colleges. CStarLeague players compete in several popular games suc as Super Smash Bros, League of Legends, and OverWatch. Players must adhere to eligibility rules similar to NCAA athletes. They must be full-time students and not on academic probation. Players also may only participate on one team. However, unlike NCAA athletes, CStarLeague players compete for cash prizes. These winnings amount to hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars.
So what does all this mean for students? I’m not inclined to make the argument that parents should start paying for their kids to receive video game lessons. There is a Japanese business that plans to provide such a product (sorry, the website hasn’t really launched yet, so it’s just a bunch of stock photos of people playing video games). I know @oliverhowe14 may wish his parents did that, but he also realizes the risk involved. Most people can’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing video games, but to be fair, the same argument can be made for kids trying to become pro-athletes.
The difference is that traditional sports are perceived differently than video games. Football and soccer build character, instills discipline, and develops teamwork skills that can serve you for life. All those weekends spent at baseball or wrestling tournaments may get you a college scholarship. Video games are seen as a vice. Video games are just a leisure activity and breed laziness and violent behavior ( @neroc1337). But maybe schools like Ashland University, which is offering scholarships for Fortnite players can change the game.
Perhaps there is a place for video games in college (outside of the dorm rooms). Although it is difficult to argue that video games offer better health benefits than sports (unless you consider the downside of injuries), maybe there are benefits for our development as individuals. You can learn a lot about teamwork when you’re trying to defend the HQ in Call of Duty. In my Thinking Strategically simulation course, my professor often spouts how he hopes someday we will be able to have a more immersive simulation experience “like Call of Duty.” Finally, time and dedication put in to improving a skill – even if that skill is in video games – can teach students about diligence.
Maybe there should be a “Plex” where students could hone their Fortnite skills (“Please observe a 30 minute time limit if there are others waiting”).