Sports Scholarships for E-sports and video games.

E-sports. The next big thing?

Those countless hours spent glued to your favorite video game console could finally start paying off in the form of college scholarships. Robert Morris University (RMU) in Illinois is the first school to offer scholarship money for e-sports or video game competitions.

The architect of this groundbreaking program, Kurt Melcher, will award $600,000 in scholarships to his “e-athletes,” which will cover anywhere from 35-70 percent of their college tuition, according to WGNtv.com.

At RMU, the expectations for e-athletes are very similar to those of student-athletes. Competitors wear a team uniform, they have scheduled practices and they even have to adhere to academic requirements in order to stay eligible.

The history of e-sports and e-sports scholarships

If you haven’t heard of “League of Legends,” “Hearthstone,” “Counter Strike” or “Dota 2,” get ready because these games and the people who play them are about to become household names. E-sports is a burgeoning entertainment industry with millions of fans worldwide, packed stadiums for live events and its own video streaming service, Twitch, which was purchased by Amazon for almost $1 billion.

Participation on college campuses is also growing at a meteoric rate, as about 10,000 e-athletes, 4,400 more than the previous year, currently compete in the Collegiate StarLeage. To put that into perspective, there are now 4,600 more e-athletes than basketball players at Division I schools. Christopher Wyatt, a senior manager for North American publishing at Riot Games, told the New York Times that he sees parallels between e-sports and basketball:

“This is just how basketball was in the 1940s. A lot of the structure and organization you see in more formal athletics, that groundwork is still being laid down here.”

As colleges embrace the e-sports phenomenon, other schools will certainly join RMU in granting scholarships for e-athletes.

 E-athletes time commitment

Unlike traditional sports, you don’t have to be a physical specimen to excel in e-sports. All you need is a passion for gaming and the time to hone your skills — maybe a little too much time.

The sheer amount of time it takes to master these games, coupled with the tournament travel requirements, could ultimately be an obstacle for e-sports at the collegiate level. It is very difficult for gamers to compete at the highest level while still taking a full class load. But with 155 million and growing players in American alone, there’s bound to be plenty of talented e-athletes up to that challenge.

College sports are shifting to video streaming services.


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