It seems that anything and everything can be a competitive sport.
Sure, we’ve all heard of baseball, football, basketball and hockey — the major collegiate and professional sports, but what lesser known sports?
There’s professional archery, professional poker, professional eating and even professional video gaming.
This spring, the schools of the Big Ten Conference all 12 schools in the Big Ten sent teams to the Big Ten Network League of Legends tournament thanks to scholarships provided by the company that makes the game.
Now e-athletes, as they call themselves, are seeking an equal standing with other college athletes. They want colleges to take the sport seriously to the point of offering scholarships.
League of Legends, or LoL as it is known in the gaming community, is a multi-player game that takes place in a fantasy realm. According to its Wikipedia page, players in LoL assume the role of an unseen "summoner" that controls a "champion" with unique abilities and battle against a team of other players or computer-controlled champions.
The goal is usually to destroy the opposing team's "nexus,” a structure which lies at the heart of a base protected by defensive structures, although other distinct game modes exist as well. Each League of Legends match is discrete, with all champions starting off fairly weak but increasing in strength by accumulating items and experience over the course of the game.
Before you go pooh poohing the entire thing as nonsense, I’d like to offer some other facts that may or may not change your view of this game.
Again, according to Wikipedia, League of Legends has been played online since 2009. As of January 2014, over 67 million people played League of Legends per month, 27 million per day, and over 7.5 million concurrently during peak hours. By 2016, the monthly total had grown to 100 million.
League of Legends has an active and widespread competitive scene. In North America and Europe, Riot Games organizes the League Championship Series (LCS), located in Los Angeles and Berlin respectively, which consists of 10 professional teams in each continent. Similar regional competitions exist in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and various other regions. These regional competitions culminate with the annual World Championship. The 2016 World Championship had 43 million unique viewers and a total prize pool of over $6 million.
Computer games have become a big business as faster internet speeds and more affordable computers become more common. The market has grown to $91 billion worldwide and it is an entire segment of the entertainment field.
But is it a competitive sport deserving of college scholarships?
I guess that will be left to the individual universities to decide.
Anything that will help get someone to learn so they may become a contributing member of society is good.
But is it a good idea to pay people to play fantasy games to subsidize their education?
I can argue for increased physical activity to combat our growing obesity epidemic, but I can also argue that people who have great problem solving skills (like solving puzzles in a game) have a place at the table.
The trick will be making sure killing dragons online translates to a marketable skill in the real world.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.
Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.