Get on the Boat or Get Left Behind

Collegiate esports competitions have already seen some establishment. The European collegiate esports scene is organized by the University Esports Masters league. Now more than ever, the NCAA should begin to organize Division I esports. Since 2015, a handful of colleges in the United States had already created varsity esports teams. Club esports teams are also popular in the U.S. and could make the jump up to the varsity level, adding to the pool of available competitors. These established teams can serve as models for other schools interested in participating. If the NCAA accepts the currently established teams, then an organized NCAA esports league could be no more than two years away. Financially, collegiate esports makes perfect sense. An esports team’s budget would simply require funding enough for the consoles, wifi, apparel, and travel. The players would be considered student athletes and thus would be managed the same as any other individual in that classification. Esports teams for popular games like League of Legends consist of 5 players and a coach with a potential for a couple alternates. A Division I esports team could consist of a relatively small amount of individuals when compared to other sports. In turn, they would not impose as large of a financial burden as football, hockey, and basketball. In addition, the audience market is shifting digitally. Traditional sports audiences are “cutting the cord” and the audience numbers for esports are on the rise. If the NCAA can organize esports to the same level of detail they organize football, that provides an opportunity for success. It opens revenue streams that would help fund other NCAA sports/events. Bidding wars can be held between both traditional cable companies (i.e. ESPN, FOX, CBS) and new age online video companies (i.e. YouTube, Twitch) for the rights to broadcast the NCAA Esports Championships. Esports also maintain the pinnacles of NCAA competition through an emphasis on dedication, teamwork, fair play, study, and practice. Large scale collegiate esports in America is on the horizon. Now is the opportune moment for the NCAA to solidify itself as the Collegiate esports monarch.

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