Collegiate eSports: A New Kind of Student-Athlete

June 23rd, 2017 | by Rhett Moroses
Collegiate eSports: A New Kind of Student-Athlete


Collegiate eSports has slowly been implemented among universities across the country. With recent reports of the industry growing rapidly, there is no doubt that we will see an explosion of newly created eSports varsity programs within the coming years.

According to a 2017 PRNewswire article, the eSports market is projected to generate $696 million by the end of the year, increasing last year’s revenue by 41%. On average, there are around 385 million people who watch eSports regularly, which is predominantly broadcasted on the internet.

Earlier this year, the NBA was the first professional league to create a professional eSports league based on the NBA 2K video game. According to a 2017 Denver Post article, The NBA 2K Pro League will conduct a player combine, draft, and full regular season by 2018.

There are currently 30 member universities of the NACE (National Association of Collegiate eSports). According to a 2017 InsideHigherEd article, 42% of eSports programs are run by the athletic department. Another 42% are run by the department of student affairs, and 14% are run as an academic endeavor.

What does this mean for college athletics? Here are some of the positives of colleges and universities embracing the eSports movement:

Another revenue stream:

eSports viewership is continuing to grow substantially every year. Sooner or later, I believe we will see a massive media rights deal for eSports competition. If more colleges create eSports programs, college eSports could legitimately burst onto the national scene. This is an opportunity for more sponsorship, merchandise, concessions, and gameday dollars.

Internet-based media deals:

According to a 2017 Investopedia article, Facebook is one of the biggest players in eSports. There has been much discussion of Facebook or other social media platforms eventually putting out bids for sport media rights, as TV ratings decline and social media use rises. Because the majority of eSports fans watch competitions on internet platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, this can be an exciting new opportunity for college athletics to take advantage of new broadcast platforms, where sporting events are broadcasted through the internet.


More inclusion amongst students:

The vast majority of college students play¬†video games regularly. eSports are a great way to get students out of their dorm rooms and interact with others who have the same passion as theirs. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be a sedentary¬†activity. At Southwest Baptist University, eSports student-athletes are required to be on a cycling bike or use the treadmill as they practice, promoting exercise.


College athletics is slowly embracing this new movement. As more schools join the NACE and create eSports programs, I believe we will only see positives as there will be more extracurricular opportunities for students and more revenue for athletic departments. Mark my word, with the rapid growth of the eSports industry, we will soon see eSports hit mainstream media.

Rhett Moroses About Rhett Moroses
Rhett Moroses is a recent graduate from Endicott College with a Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management. He has held multiple internships in the sports industry including athletic administration in interscholastic sports, sponsorship and marketing in college athletics, and game day promotions and marketing in professional sports. Rhett aspires to have a successful career in the field of college athletic administration.

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