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League of Legends: The Next-Gen University Sport?

Coming to a school near you!  In the last couple years we have seen a dramatic rise in the popularity of competitive gaming. Gaming is now becoming main stream. The gamer identity is less and less being associated with the fat bald dude living in his mom’s basement and more and more what they really are—regular guys that enjoy the hobby of playing video games. The reduction in this social stigma is knocking down a lot of barriers and people are seeing that skills, brains, and talent are required to be one of the best in eSports.

eg2Furthermore, we have things like this happening. Robert Morris University of Illinois is the first college is North America to offer scholarships for exceptional League of Legends players. Just like they would a baseball, football, or basketball star, they are offering the same time of perks to gamers. They will mainly be recruiting from the High School Starleague.

Robert Morris University of Illinois Reports:

CHICAGO – Robert Morris University Illinois is pleased to announce the addition of an online sport to its athletic program. Commonly referred to as eSports, the activity consists of organized video game competitions. Specifically, RMU students will compete in League of Legends, one of the largest and most popular eSport games. Although eSports have long been a part of the culture of gaming, competitions have seen a large surge in popularity in recent years. Robert Morris University recognizes the value and legitimacy of eSports and is excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic program.

Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher states, “Robert Morris University has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills. League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires significant amount of teamwork to be successful.”

Robert Morris University is in the process of recruiting students for the first year of competition, beginning with the fall quarter in September, 2014. RMU will join the Collegiate Star League, made up of 103 institutions of higher learning and compete against other universities including Arizona State, George Washington and Harvard. Significantly, Robert Morris University is among the first in the nation to offer substantial scholarships for members of the first RMU Varsity eSport League of Legends team. Qualified gamers can earn scholarships of up to 50% tuition and 50% room and board.

Currently there are over 750 schools in 46 states and eight Canadian provinces that participate in League of Legends High School Starleague (HSL). Robert Morris University seeks eSport athletes with experience in the HSL or similar for their inaugural competitive season. Teams in the Collegiate Starleague compete for Riot’s North American Collegiate Championship and $100,000 in scholarship money. Qualification to the event can be obtained through league play or through the North American Collegiate Open tournament.

That’s right. Students can ear scholarships of 50% tuition and room & board. If we would have heard someone saying this was going to be a reality about 3 years ago we would have barked and laughed in their face.

What do you think about RMU’s foray into eSports? Do you think other colleges will follow?

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