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eSports, Not a Sport?


Most of you visiting this site have probably watched or at least have heard of some pro gaming competition somewhere. Read this article here. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

What do you think? I know this guy says it doesn’t matter, but I think here in America the label totally matters. Labels are what define success and opportunities in this country. Consider your football player who can get a scholarship to college, or a cheerleader even. Is pro gaming any less reputable than cheerleading? As of February of this year, the top ten pro gamers in gross earnings looks like this:

1. Lee “Jaedon” Jae Dong – $504,486
2. Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel – $454,544
3. Lee “Flash” Young Ho – $446,371
4. Danylo “Dendi” Ishutin – $438,142
5. Oleksandr “XBOCT” Dashkevych – $435,838
6. Clement “Puppey” Ivanov – $433,638
7. Jang “MC” Min Chul – $426,526
8. Jang “Moon” Jae Ho – $424,757
9. Jung “Mvp” Jong Hyun – $390,116
10. Dmitriy “LighTofHeaveN” Kupriyanov – $270,156

The lowest grossing player on that list has earned just shy of $300k. I have yet to make that in my entire life and I wipe butts for a living. Yes I realize a majority of the names listed here are not from America but that is exactly my point a second ago. What if one could go to college to pursue gaming-related careers here? Yes I’ve heard of Westwood and other Universities but what most students fail to realize (before it’s too late) is they’re not fully accredited institutions. If you were to transfer to another school it is very likely your credits would not go with you and you’d be starting all over. Here, look at Westwood’s own FAQ website.

Did you see the number of school’s you’d have available to you to transfer to? That number is grossly miniscule considering how many colleges we have in this nation. For me this whole debate boils down to respect and recognition. I would love beyond all logical reason having an opportunity to just pursue a game related career. But here, it’s all about location, location, location. Don’t get me wrong I’m well aware that there are some accredited institutions that allow for such, I’m lucky enough to be attending one of them in The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. But it took me a long time to find them, and only after spending years of attending a commute campus for a degree in physical therapy that I ultimately dropped out of because I was unhappy with what I was doing with myself. Beyond that, these schools offer degrees in programming, coding, and animation. Playing video games doesn’t entail squat in terms of academics.

Imagine if there were a number of schools that offered actual gaming scholarships? The same as there are schools that offer scholarships for twirling pompons and doing backflips? No disrespect to cheerleading, it’s a very physically demanding sport, more so than even football. But you can’t tell me a school couldn’t make money off of video gaming teams the same way they could a football time. And with what I’m assuming would be a much smaller roster than a football team I’d imagine a lower bill to foot for funding. This is all a theory here, and strictly opinion, but it makes plenty of sense to me. And I’m not even saying this should be a gateway toward playing video games being a regular job either. Just a gateway to opportunity. How many football players or basketball players in college go on to play professional ball? Very few considering the number of players that play in college. Apply the same scenario to a gaming scholarship. You’ve got a degree, now go forth with your life and do something with yourself. Johnathan Wendell rarely competes in professional tournaments anymore, but he scored a job as an analyst and commentator for live events. He gets to travel the country and the world doing something he loves to do and the opportunity to do so came just from playing video games.

Much the same way Peyton Manning made a success of himself just for throwing a football.

Again theoretically, lets think about what types of things one might be able to get involved in after gaming just from experience in it. Telecommunications. Advertising. Programming. Multimedia. Acting perhaps? The exposure in itself is a reward. And the chance to travel, meet people, and create memories that last one’s entire life.

In America a label is much more than a label. A label means either acceptance or rejection in our culture. A label means respect or dismissivness. A label could change the way our entire society operates. There are plenty of opportunities to be had in the world of video games. I label could make those opportunities available to anyone who wished to chase them.

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