For years the popularity of video games and Esports has steadily increased. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) now offers membership to over 170 colleges and universities that operate their own Esports leagues. The importance of collegiate Esports will rise as there is a push for an integration of Esports into mainstream sporting society. The NCAA will play a major role in whether such a phenomenon will occur.
The NCAA unanimously voted in 2019 against the idea of taking esports under its governance. There were a couple of complaints that the NCAA had with Esports. The first was that video games were played by a predominantly male population, which the NCAA believed could complicate terms with Title IX. The second complaint that the NCAA had was that the violence in some of the games proposed would project a distasteful image of the NCAA.
The NCAA’s gender-based arguments remain invalid when truly analyzed, as women have been shown to make up 45% of gamers in the United States in 2021. With such even splits between men and women, it would be more than reasonable to field both a men’s and women’s Esports team, which would combat the proposed Title IX complaints the NCAA had put forth.
As it stands today, there is a level of regulated real-life violence already associated with the NCAA. Sports like football and hockey consistently create violent scenes. It is very rare to find fans of either sport complaining due to too much violence. In fact, acts of violence are so far as celebrated by fans in such arenas, and no one seems to bat an eye over that.
One day collegiate and professional Esports will be broadcasted on television networks with real network deals rather than tucked away on YouTube, Twitch, or ESPN+ at God knows what hour of the night. Esports need to be accepted as a sport by the NCAA to unlock the full potential of the industry.
As an official NCAA sport, Esports teams would be able to provide partial and full scholarships for their athletes. This would create real sporting incentives revolving around Esports, creating a potentially concrete youth movement.
In the United Kingdom, some universities have begun to offer degrees in Esports. Degrees focused in Esports, such as Event Management, Production Coaching, Management, Business Management, Media, and health, among many others. Much like how the business of sports was taboo until it was introduced into universities, the same can be said of Esports and the industry it brings with it.
Between gaining scholarships and introducing Esports as an academic pathway, these phases of acceptance will surely begin to fall in a domino-like effect in the next few years.
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