NCAA exploring sponsoring eSports as actual varsity sport

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on January 18th, 2019 at 11:44 AM

“This is going to be a D-I activity,” Hersh said. “I’ve had university presidents call and ask about it. The first thing I tell them is to get it out of your engineering department and put it in your athletic department. Why? Because you’ll be ahead of the pack and that’s where it’s going to wind up anyway. You might as well just do it. … Put it where the athletic department is and just call it what it is. It may not be there yet, but in two or three years, it’ll be an Olympic sport


The Maize Halo

January 18th, 2019 at 11:50 AM ^

I would say I hate this and to get off my lawn, but they aren't even on my lawn -- they're in basements guzzling monster and smashing cheetos. I know you can make millions now through twitch, but it's not a damn sport. Put it in its own category, sure -- just not something called athletics.


January 18th, 2019 at 12:31 PM ^

ViDeO gAmEs WiLl NeVeR bE a SpOrT.  -_-

When you have tournament's with prize pools nearly doubling the Daytona 500 and U.S. Open, or having pools with 10x more winning than the Kentucky Dirby or Tour de France, you can't deny that people will flock to the money. But that's just a fraction of it. I hate to break it to you, but gaming is competitive and an extremely difficult craft to learn and to hone.. It has a following, and an audience that is only growing.

If you have a problem, maybe you should ask if other sports should be doing something different? I just find it funny that you don't like people on your lawn, but have no problem stomping on your neighbors'...


January 18th, 2019 at 1:52 PM ^

Correct, And I never said you said those things. But what I was trying to say is if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck (or a sport for that matter). Rifling (ncaa), bowling (ncaa), golf (ncaa), e-sports, poker, darts, they're all the same in my opinion. What distinguishes an "activity" from a "sport" in your opinion?


January 18th, 2019 at 2:50 PM ^

WD, they all require physical activity, but the extents vary. People who play football, soccer and tennis could say golf, bowling, and rifling aren't "athletes" because at no points do they require running. Then the golfers, bowlers, and riflers could say poker, esports, and racers aren't athletes because they're always "sitting down". Then the gamers and racers could say that their hands and their brains are strained 10x more than a bowler or a golfer with the need to constantly adjust and have a head on a swivel.

There's never going to be an absolute consensus on what a sport is, and what it isn't; similarly, who an athlete is and who it isn't. We're all entitled to our opinions, but so is the NCAA (and they'll add what they add: like rifling for example). I just don't know why so many people die on the hill that gamers aren't athletes, it's not a sport, and it shouldn't even be a conversation. It's all relative.


January 18th, 2019 at 2:06 PM ^

These games have rosters, coaches, scouts, practices, etc.  The matches are live, real-time competitions with other humans.  The games require insane reflexes, instant decision-making, and play-calling/coordination with your teammates.  There are specific objectives and scoring with rules which govern how you can play. 

I'm not sure how you can get much more "sport" than that.  But, I will agree that they are in no way "athletics", which then would seem odd for them to come under the wing of the NCAA, which is an "athletic association". 


January 18th, 2019 at 2:47 PM ^

According to who?  And what are the qualifications of the person who made this definition to determine what is or is not a sport based on the level of physical activity performed?

The IOC recognizes chess and golf as sports.  Golf is mainly a game played solo, not against someone else directly, but does have physical requirements.  Chess is directly played against an opponent, but has zero physical requirements. 

The games being discussed here have more physical requirements (hand-eye coordination, muscle memory, finger dexterity) than chess and share a myriad of similarities with team sports that golf does not have.  You can take a pedantic stance that there is not enough of a physical element to the games to call them a sport if you'd like I suppose.  I see enough qualities in them that they are sports to me.  Not athletics, but sports.


January 18th, 2019 at 3:57 PM ^

That doesn't make it a sport, though.  I mean, poker requires an immense amount of mental focus and skill, yet people wouldn't consider it a sport.  Chess the same way.  Not that the definition of "sport" is all that relevant beyond semantics, but I can't think of any other NCAA-sanctioned sport that would be analogous.  Bowling, maybe?  But even that is more physical strenuous than eSports at least in terms of the actual "action" of the sport.  And yes, I recognize that physical dexterity in one's hands is some degree of exertion.

Nobody is denying that eSports is incredibly popular and generates a ton of money.  But if I told you "hey, the NCAA is going to officially recognize 'Magic the Gathering' as a sport", you'd probably cock your eyebrow at least.


January 18th, 2019 at 6:04 PM ^

Haha fair. Though, rifling is the one NCAA-sanctioned sport that sticks out that could be synonymous to e-sports in terms of physical activity; if you haven't seen any videos you should take a look. Though you do make good points. While I land on the side that it should be considered a "sport" in general, I agree that e-sports isn't exactly a fit for the NCAA in terms of what they offer. It probably won't get adopted, but I can see a lot of positivity if they did; just some ideas:

- Could be a domino in allowing student athletes to make money off of themselves.
- Could offer another way for students who can't afford an education to pay for one.
- Could grow e-sports in the U.S. (even some college sports are more popular in the U.S. than pro sports).

LSA Aught One

January 18th, 2019 at 12:00 PM ^

Let's talk about how that would work:

  • 4 year scholarship plus stipend
  • Best gaming gear on the market
  • Logo clothing
  • Coaches and Trainers
  • Meal Plan (assuming no Cheetos/Monster, but who knows)
  • Travel to events
  • Dorm rooms blocked with the other gamers

This sounds pretty sweet for an 18 year old kid.


January 18th, 2019 at 11:52 AM ^

Honestly, I don't have a problem with it. A lot of schools already have teams, including Michigan. BTN has already put events together with schools playing against each other.

This will happen sooner or later.

Mike Damone

January 18th, 2019 at 12:43 PM ^

If that's the case, then Reddit CFB Risk should be a sport too.  Last Spring, it was so damn exciting!

"What a night - we took Pennsylvania from the Buckeyes!  Don't attack Maryland yet - we have to honor the ACC Alliance.  Make sure to hit our secret site for directions tonight - password:  areola.  Look out for spies and double agents."

Really, has all of the drama and skill needed in any D-1 athletic competion.  Can't wait for this Spring - it is going to be wild!

UM Fan from Sydney

January 18th, 2019 at 11:54 AM ^

Love this. I recently got into the NBA 2K series. My mate is a pure slasher. Never owned or even played this franchise until about six weeks ago. It's fun. It's even more fun when you have a group of friends to play online with.


January 18th, 2019 at 12:01 PM ^

It'll be interesting to see how the NCAA attempts to regulate something like this - the best gamers in the world are usually signed to teams from very early ages (sometimes as young as 12 years old) and are compensated - whether that be with prize winnings from tournaments, sponsorships, Twitch/YouTube following, etc - they're getting PAID. The best in the world probably wouldn't go to college and play on an E-Sports team anyway, just wouldn't make sense from a financial perspective.