Electronic sports, known as eSports is gaining popularity on college campuses. eSports features multi-player video gaming competitions. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Daemen College in Amherst has a brand new eSports center and club as it considers it a possible part of athletics.
“This is possibly the beginning of what be part of the redefinition of collegiate sports nationally,” remarked Gary Olson, president at Daemen College.
Olson said someday envision giving modest scholarships to students to participate on an eSports team.
“This is cutting edge – it’s brand new, so this is the future and Daemen is really happy to be part of the future,” Olson stated.
Olson also serves as vice chair of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council. He said as eSports gains in popularity, the NCAA has considering supporting it. However, there are some concerns because it’s very popular among males 18-34 years of age and they worry about Title IX.
“Does it look like any of the traditional sports at the moment – so it doesn’t look like track, baseball or football or basketball – so you have to get your mind wrapped around a whole different kind of competition,” Olson explained. “I can tell you, that as a member of the board of the NCAA – nationally – we are struggling as an organization to determine whether eSports should be embraced by the NCAA as an official part of collegiate sports. I don’t know what the outcome of those discussions will be.”
“The too big ones are ‘League of Legends’, ‘Hearthstone’ is another one, which is a card game – those are the two big ones that they do. For us, for the fall we are looking at ‘League of Legends’,” explained Greg Nayor, Daemen's vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of students.
Nayor showed off the new eSports lab for students in the campus’s Wick Center.
“But in the fall, the NCAA and the East Coast Conference – specifically the East Coast Conference – is going to have a league and we are going to have a tournament and so we are calling it our eSports lab,” remarked Nayor.
eSports is viewed by millions on-line. And globally it is making money. According to the numbers eSports generated more than $300-million in 2015, so it’s making it more very attractive for a varsity sport on college campuses.
“For those presidents, who are part of the NCAA board, who have gotten their mind wrapped around eSports, they’ve decided that – well it is a competition, it does add to the collegiate experience – yes it is different, but it’s something that we could see as part of the future of sports in American.
The Daemen Game club opened this past fall and now this semester each Friday night, the college features conversations around eSports.