Society and Culture
Athletic Scholarships for Gamers
Just the other day I was catching up on the happenings around the world and stumbled upon an article that has really annoyed me. Robert Morris University in Chicago is planning to offer athletic scholarships to kids who play video games. Not just five or six scholarships, but 30. Yep, 30 scholarships for kids who play video games; more specifically, one called ‘League of Legends’.
I will be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about video games. My experience was playing the duck hunting game on Nintendo 20 years ago and the occasional Mortal Kombat stint. I know a lot of the lingo and various games because of my brother who still likes to play occasionally when he has free time from, you know, being an adult; but I have never heard of ‘League of Legends’ and had to call upon both my brother and Google to set me straight.
So apparently ‘League of Legends’ is a mixture of RTS (real-time strategy) and RPG (role-playing game). These are both things that I vaguely understand but it seems to me like a group of kids get together around the world, team up, and try to conquer the game. So how exactly is this athletic related? It isn’t and that’s where this makes my blood boil.
I do think that this particular game requires a certain level of strategy but that does not make it athletic, which is defined as “sports, games, and exercises that require strength and skill.” Strength and skill. Where in the world does a video game require either one of those things? Lifting up and holding a controller while sitting on your ass does not require much strength, not to mention the level of skill required on a video game doesn’t seem to be all that much. Yes, you need to be able to understand the rules of the game and the role you are playing and how to win, but does that really require much skill?
Now, let’s look at this from a less self-involved perspective. Robert Morris University is a Division I school in the NCAA so obviously athletic scholarships from this school are tied to that organization. The NCAA website has absolutely no information on requirements for a video game athletem and honestly there really isn’t a true definition of a general athlete there either. The only requirements are certain core classes have to be taken, a decent GPA, and maintaining amateur status throughout school.
Are there professional gamers? I mean legally, real professional gamers? Not just 30-yearold guys sitting around playing video games in their parents’ basements. Does the NCAA even embrace this idea? From all accounts on its website it doesn’t seem to me like it is something that the NCAA would embrace willingly or very quickly. They even have a specific section dedicated to the value of college sports, including college education, academic success, scholarships, student assistance, academic and support services, medical care, elite training opportunities, healthy living, exposure and experiences, and preparation for life. Some of these are no brainers that every student should get from attending college, but others are specific and special to being a college athlete, things that I don’t think apply to the world of gamers.
Elite training opportunities…training for what in video games? Healthy living…so no more soda and chips as you level up? Exposure and experiences…sitting in front of a screen next to someone else not being exposed to anything even if you are in a different city competing for some video game competition? Medical care…for carpal tunnel and the occasional blister? Preparation for life…I don’t see how ‘League of Legends’ would prepare anyone for life outside of the technology world.
As I get older I get more and more annoyed by the fact that younger generations would rather sit inside and watch TV or play video games than go outside and play tag or ride a bicycle. When I was a kid my summer days were filled with sunburns, swimming pools, neighborhood kids, and adventures that took me outside of my house and sometimes out of my own comfort zone. Now I don’t see kids playing in the streets with other neighborhood kids. They don’t even go up to the seemingly abandoned neighborhood pool. Technology is taking over everything, creating anti-social lazy kids and colleges are now going to promote it?
Way to go Robert Morris University, you have taken us one step closer to allowing video games to be considered a sport and to the ideals of Idiocracy.
Allison Dawson (@AllyD528) Born in Germany, raised in Mississippi and Texas. Graduate of Texas Tech University and Arizona State University. Currently dedicating her life to studying for the LSAT. Twitter junkie. Conservative.
Featured imaged courtesy of [Sherif Salama via Flickr]