Newberry Launches Esports for Intercollegiate Competition
January 9, 2019
Competitive gaming, otherwise known as esports, will launch at Newberry College as an intercollegiate scholarship sport for the 2019-2020 season.
“Esports is experiencing exponential growth, particularly with high school- and college-age students,” said Newberry president Dr. Maurice Scherrens. “We believe it is a natural fit for Newberry College.”
It may not fit our traditional view of collegiate athletics, but competitive gaming has quietly grown into one of the most popular team sports of the past decade.
Esports experiencing worldwide growth with both competitors and spectators
Esports appeals to a broad range of competitors with leagues running at the recreational, intercollegiate and professional levels. In fact, interest in gaming has become so widespread that ESPN added esports as one of its coverage categories in 2014.
Research by the Entertainment Software Association found that 150 million Americans play video games, and 64 percent of American households have at least one person who plays video games at least three hours per week.
Americans may be ardent gamers, but the appeal of esports is global. According to gaming and esports market intelligence provider Newzoo, there are 2.2 billion active gamers worldwide.
Likewise, the global fan base for competitive gaming has surged over the past decade, making esports the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. The Washington Post recently reported that substantially more people watched the 2017 League of Legends World Championships (106.2 million) than watched the 2018 Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Daytona 500 contests combined (42.8 million).
Intercollegiate and recreational esports leagues forming at Newberry
Esports will launch at Newberry College for the 2019-20 season under the auspices of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). As with any intercollegiate sport, students will win a seat on the team roster based on their playing ability and will be eligible for gaming scholarships.
“Intercollegiate and recreational esports leagues formalize a structure that will help students connect with one another and with the campus,” said Dr. Sid Parrish, interim vice president for Academic Affairs. “These connections can be an important factor in whether a student stays in school and persists to graduation, just as they do with students in other intercollegiate sports.”
Esports teams compete in different leagues based on the specific games they play. Newberry College will compete in “Overwatch” and “League of Legends.” Both are multi-player games in which players compete as a team against other intercollegiate teams. A recreational league will be offered concurrently for students preferring more casual competition or seeking to hone their gaming skills to be considered for the intercollegiate ranks.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Newberry to establish itself in the arena of competitive gaming,” Parrish said. “Not only will we attract a new segment of students to campus who are highly motivated and technologically savvy, they also will experience the benefits of team competition that strengthen their connections to their teammates and enhance the overall student experience in college.”