It is becoming a national trend for colleges to launch esports programs in their athletic department. Howard Community College and Hudson Valley Community College are among the schools that plan on providing esports programs for gamers this fall.
With the coronavirus pandemic shutting down college sports across the globe, esports is thriving and keeping their students involved. Esports has blossomed so much that networks like FOX Sports and ESPN have been broadcasting esports events such as simulation racing and Rocket League competitions.
The viewership numbers have skyrocketed for many gaming broadcasts. The League of Legends European Championship, for example, reported 81% viewership growth for the summer split.
Esports on Campuses
In 2019, the US video game industry generated revenue of $35.4 billion. With the rise in popularity in gaming and esports, schools and institutions have started to see value in them.
Howard Community College has decided to start a sports program that can survive in a virtual format amid the coronavirus. The esports program will be their 12th athletic program, and the team will compete in the New England Collegiate Conference.
Erin Foley, Howard Community College’s Athletic Director, said he was excited about the esports team and sees a bright future for the programs. Despite the excitement, the first esports program will be altered due to the coronavirus, and athletes will practice and compete from home.
Dawson Community College and Hudson Valley Community College also joined HCC and created esports programs for gamers. Dawson has already found two coaches for the esports team and provided space for players. They are offering scholarships to gamers and aims to have a full team by August, whereas Hudson Valley is still searching for coaches and players and does not have space for the team to practice on campus yet.
Hawkeye Community College already had esports programs for the student and plans to expand the teams as they add more video games. They are looking to have more than 50 players and want players to only focus on one game. They have strict guidelines for the coronavirus, such as doing temperature checks before players enter the arena and wearing face masks at all times.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports has more than 170 members, including the University of Montana and the University of Providence. The first-ever varsity collegiate esports program was formed in 2014 by Robert Morris University in Illinois with their League of Legends team.
Madden Summer Challenge 2020
With college football undecided on whether it will return this fall, the Big 12 Conference has come up with an esports tournament. The Big 12, in conjunction with Learfield IMG College and Mainline.gg, has come together to launch the first college sports Madden NFL 20 tournament.
A total of 249 teams registered for the tournament and the qualifiers have already started. Each individual school will host its own tournaments and 10 of the winners will proceed into the championship tournament along with six wildcards to create a 16-team bracket. All the qualifiers and championships will be broadcasted on ESPN Esports Twitch channel, and ESPN’s Big 12 Now’s digital channel.
Schools have managed to incorporate sponsorships with each school having its own tournament sponsor. Brands are recognizing how well esports is doing and hope to get involved and reach the esports audience.
Dr. Pepper & Cream Soda is the main sponsor of the event. The Kansas State Lottery is the title sponsor for Kansas State and the University of Kansas, while Mountain Dew Game Fuel is the sponsor of Oklahoma State. For Texas Tech University, the Texas Credit Union is the sponsor, while H-E-B sponsors the University of Texas, and West Virginia is sponsored by Papa John’s.