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College Offers Athletic Scholarships To Gamers 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the prospective-students-zerg-the-admissions-office dept.
New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."
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College Offers Athletic Scholarships To Gamers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not some other team-based game?
    There's hundreds.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      You could ask the same thing about ball games.
      Perhaps because from the plethora of options, they have to choose. More interesting would be to not limit the game at all but have a list of team games, all of which a team would need to be able to compete in.... like a video decathlon.

      Not only need to be good at the games but good at switching between them from round to round, which itself could be difficult.

      • by Rei (128717)

        Why even limit it to team sports? At least if the Olympics is anything to go by, there's more "legitimate" individuals sports than team sports [yellowfinbi.com]. So why not also have scholarships for single-player video games?

        That is, to say, I look forward to getting a scholarship in Kerbal Space Program. ;)

        • Honestly, you could probably do a lot worse than offering scholarships (possibly even automatic admits) to people who finished Robot Odyssey [wikipedia.org]. Kiddie game, or looks like one; but widely reputed to either turn you into a hardcore programming geek for life, or beat you up and take your lunch money, self-worth, and sense of hope.
        • by TheCarp (96830)

          > Why even limit it to team sports?

          I guess it doesn't have to be; but I do think the ability to work together in teams is worth fostering. My own sport was wrestling, which is very much individual, its just you and your oponenent in the circle. All your "Team" can do is yell out encouragement and advice.

          > I look forward to getting a scholarship in Kerbal Space Program.

          Kerbal would make for some interesting competitions. I actually was thinking it would be fun to do rally races ala the Iron Butt. You

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          There is a very limited number of games which fall under the e-sport mantle. An athletic scholarship isn't one because you play some sport, it's a scholarship because you're playing some sport for the college. Your performance is a way for the college to get their name and recognition out there. If they're going to offer a scholarship for a game, any time you're playing it it will be branded as part of the college and it's going to need a sufficient audience to justify it.

        • One step closer to VGHS! I don't know if it should be called an athletic scholarship, but I'm all for it.
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          It's not limited to team sports per se, historically the scholarships go to the profitable sports which just happen to be team sports. Find out which sports sell the most tickets and those will be the ones with scholarships.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Melcher is associate athletic director at Robert Morris University, a Chicago-based university that gives out 1,400 athletic and activity scholarships across its 10 Illinois campuses as a way of recruiting and retaining students. But it occurred to him that one sport, rapidly growing in popularity, was missing from the scholarship roster.

      Seeing it as a way of making the university more attractive, picking the most popular makes sense.

      If you open Twitch at any given time, unless the finals of some important championship are being played at that very moment, the top of the list is League of Legends.

    • Chess (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are chess scholarships [chess-class.com].

    • Why not some other team-based game? There's hundreds.

      Presumably based on its audience popularity. LoL, by all reports, is very high indeed in the ranks of 'people actually watch streams of this stuff'. If a sport doesn't have a long, stuffy, history to justify it's existence, it probably has to be popular.

    • Re:Why LoL? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:16AM (#47314279)

      It's probably because of League's "mass-market" appeal. League of Legends runs on Adobe Air, and will run on pretty much any given set of hardware no matter how outdated it is. In contrast, most of League's competitors require a somewhat powerful computer to run or aren't free - Starcraft 2 is still $60 as far as I know (I never bought it) and requires significantly more resources to run, as does DOTA2. They also purposely market their game as "casual friendly", and it definitely works - many of the people I know who used to talk about how much time they spent playing Angry Birds are now playing League.

      I'd also be willing to bet a significant sum of money that this scholarship was not an original idea by the school. Riot Games essentially depends on popularity to make money - they do so by giving away the game itself, and then charging money to buy characters in the game to remain competitive. They tend to go for things that create headlines, things like starting their own tournament league (which they did several years ago). They also advertise the game heavily, especially on Twitch (where they're usually the #1 most streamed game, although there have been accusations of Riot using bots to inflate their viewer count over DOTA2).

      With all that taken into account, it's not hard to see why LoL got picked.

    • by Salgat (1098063)
      Probably has to do with the fact that it's both the most played game in the world and has the strongest international eSports following.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Most sports scholarships started because there was actual income from the sports themselves. Thus take some of that income to the college to pay for the income earner's education. To use the same process for a fictitious sport which has zero income is bizarre. Treat gaming teams the same as intramural sports, in that the college provides the facilities, you can use the school's name, but no scholarships or kickbacks or easy "math for gamerz" classes.

  • That is the issue so basically if you want to play there you have to pay the other half? per year? and why can't you rent on your own and save?

    But 38,000 + books and other fees an year is why student loans are so big now days.

    Even people in this for 4 years are looking at about 76000 + books and other fees that can be like 100K with loan fees and interest.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      This is completely off topic but, being in Europe, I've often wondered why would people study in the US when they could get the same education in Europe for under a tenth of the price. I can understand language being a barrier but... a hundreds of thousands of dollars barrier?

      There are certainly many reasons not to do it, but it's a loan I suppose some people take decades to pay so...

      • by alen (225700)

        last i read only a minority of people in europe go to college, unlike the USA

        • High tuition seems to have very little to do with the number of students but everything to do with services/administration bloating and the policy of "you get a loan! you get a loan!" policy from the US government. One would think with more students, you would achieve better economy of scale and so be able to charge less per student.

          Looking at this: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/... [yahoo.com], it seems countries can have a high percentage of college-educated people without charging them a lifetime of debt.
        • by Thanshin (1188877)

          Nope. Other than Spain and Canada, which are way beyond, the US and the rest of Europe countries are all in a 10% wide span.

          You can have updated info by searching "college and university education mismatch oecd"

      • by Kelbear (870538) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @10:50AM (#47314915)

        I think international enrollment may very well start to be a thing.

        But I would point out that in Europe, there's people crossing countries on a daily basis just commuting to work, while in the US, there are families who haven't left the country except for brief vacations, or not at all. Living in the US is all they know, and all they want, and the parents are already twisted up inside about having their kids leave home, to consider sending them halfway around the world adds to their stress.

        For many years college has been seen as the indispensable class gateway to access the middle-class life. No introductory price could be high enough to offset the prosperity the graduates would see on in their career. This vision changed VERY suddenly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

        The cost of college grew at a lightning pace since the time the parents had gone to college, the kids had never dealt in financial matters, and the intangible debts accrued were a problem for the future when the kids would already be enjoying a successful career that would allow them to pay it down...except that with the recent financial crisis and recent-graduate employment rates falling off a cliff as recently laid-off middle-age workers are taking up entry-level positions, the young graduates found themselves with significant debt but without the middle-class career path they'd counted on to help pay down that debt. I think that international enrollment will indeed grow in response to this problem unless something else is done to address it. It's just that this problem had hit so suddenly that the culture of choosing colleges hasn't shifted quickly enough to keep up. Colleges transformed from a gold mines to minefields in a short time span. We're seeing the opinions shifting now though.

        It's important to bear in mind that the massive spike in tuition is at least, a progressive pricing structure (though it has its flaws and gaps). US colleges defend their pricing by saying that the ridiculously high tuition is the list price that gets charged to the more affluent families, and that inflated price helps allow for tuition discounts to the less affluent families to get into the college.
        http://www.npr.org/blogs/money... [npr.org]

        There is some nuance to that pricing structure. TL;DR, if a student goes to a reputable STEM college to major in STEM, then that high tuition is funding the salaries of famous professors and their projects that make your STEM college reputable (and your degree as well). If a student goes to that college to major in art history, they're probably going to get a very bad deal out of it.

    • by alen (225700)

      don't go to college far from home, go to your state school and live with mom and dad

      you're crazy if you think society should pay for 4 years of your living expenses

  • by dcw3 (649211)

    This will likely have mostly male applicants, and put pressure on the school to attract and spend more on females in other areas. They'll either have to shut down other male dominated sports, or find more funding to balance the equation for the women.

    • Re:Title IX (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @08:57AM (#47314155)

      They could make a scholarship for pole dancing.

      No. I'm not kidding.
      Yes, such thing already exists.
      No, I don't know if there's a male counterpart, nor am I willing to investigate that facet of the topic.

    • Given that videogaming is cheaper than just about anything except pick-up frisbee on the quad, (maybe $4K over the course of undergrad if the school is buying the hardware and keeping it fresh, and likely substantially less insurance exposure than any more active sport), if the Title IX metric is monetary, they'll need to free up very little extra funding for parity on the women's sports side. If the metric is participation, what a handy excuse to axe some comparatively expensive and not terribly popular me
      • Given that videogaming is cheaper than just about anything except pick-up frisbee on the quad, (maybe $4K over the course of undergrad if the school is buying the hardware and keeping it fresh, and likely substantially less insurance exposure than any more active sport), if the Title IX metric is monetary, they'll need to free up very little extra funding for parity on the women's sports side. If the metric is participation, what a handy excuse to axe some comparatively expensive and not terribly popular men's sport...

        IIRC, monetary parity is not required, equal support is. So if you pay to send the men's BB team on a trip you need to pay for the women's team trips as well; although they may cost less.

    • This will likely have mostly male applicants, and put pressure on the school to attract and spend more on females in other areas. They'll either have to shut down other male dominated sports, or find more funding to balance the equation for the women.

      Nopt necessarily. Numeric parity is not required, availability is acceptable as well provided all other criteria are met. It could also be an attempt to increase mail participation since Title IX cuts both ways.

      • It could also be an attempt to increase mail participation since Title IX cuts both ways.

        I find myself confused. I thought the subject was athletic scholarships, not the US Postal Service.

      • If availability is all thats required why can't a League of Legends team be coed? Just because team siren was awful doesn't mean that female players can't or won't play League of Legends professionally and/or on competitive teams at a high level. Considering how much effort has been put into making female players into placekickers in college football, in league of legends the admittance of female players should be a trivial non-issue.
        • If availability is all thats required why can't a League of Legends team be coed? Just because team siren was awful doesn't mean that female players can't or won't play League of Legends professionally and/or on competitive teams at a high level. Considering how much effort has been put into making female players into placekickers in college football, in league of legends the admittance of female players should be a trivial non-issue.

          Depends on what they want to accomplish. If a school needs a men's sport to keep the balance and save money by eliminating a more expensive one, then a men's team makes sense.

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      Some universities have a disproportionate number of women, so it is quite likely that the only gender related issue with a this scholarship is that it will probably attract applicants to programs that are male dominated.

    • I don't think Title IX applies here.

      Last time I checked, video games were not a gendered sport...Since it isn't going to be a "Mens Only" team, availability will be considered equal. It may attract more men (although the only person I see posting about LoL on my facebook is a woman--the male MOBA players all seem to prefer DOTA2), but if it is being offered and competed in a coed league, then it is Title IX neutral.

  • Video gaming might be a sport, (in a similar way to which chess is a sport) but its not athletic

    • by schwit1 (797399)

      The Olympics jumped the shark long ago when they added more and more events that are 100% choreographed and the winner is determined by judges. These are not sports or games, they are ballet.

    • I once saw people competing in a hot-dog eating contest being referred to as athletes. That was about a decade ago, and the last time I watched ESPN.
      • I once saw people competing in a hot-dog eating contest being referred to as athletes. That was about a decade ago, and the last time I watched ESPN.

        There is hope for me still in the pro's!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who cares whether it's used by males or females? It's open to everyone and the skill requirement can obviously be measured independently from the sex. Why the hell does everything have to be genderfied these days? It should not play any role in a debate like this.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:17AM (#47314291) Journal
      Title IX, mostly. (Which, at the risk of bringing down the MRAs on my head, didn't exactly make it through the house and senate by substantial margins, and across the desk of notorious liberal Richard Nixon; because the treatment of women in college athletics, or even college generally, was exactly peachy-keen...)

      Given the relatively chickenshit amount of money a few 'cyberathletes' are going to cost, compared to existing sports, I'm not overwhelmingly convinced that it will make much of a difference.

      (Note, I'm against athletic scholarships entirely, and the degree of emphasis that the more competitive tiers of college athletics as a whole get, so I'm unconvinced as to why it would be a good use of money to pay gamers, as much as I'm unconvinced by the virtues of paying rowers, football players, or anyone else. If having some athletic offerings is good for work/life balance, exercise, and whatnot, all well and good, I certainly participated when I was in school; but once you get to the realm of paid atheletes, just drop the "Oh, just a 'student athlete', not a real employee or anything" bullshit and just cut them a paycheck, rather than dicking around with scholarships based on academically irrelevant criteria.)
    • by PPH (736903)

      Whoo, hoo! Co-ed locker rooms!

  • Bad for the educational system at a time when both sides and more are at issue.

    We have big ncaa student athlete issues (and at least some of the player should be in some kind of minor ledge system) also some of the students are not college material and should be some kind of tech / trades program. Also when you are doing team stuff 40-60 hours a week you don't have time for classes.

    On the other side we have issues with skill gaps, cost , big blocks of time, college credit transfer issues (some student athle

    • To be fair, the school in question here is not the kind where student athletes likely have a large skill gap compared to the other students. It is a glorified step up form a community college.

      Unlike the under-qualified athletes who get scholarships to schools with strong academics, this is a school where they can probably keep up just fine. I don't mean to sound disparaging (and since I live nearby, I have met good people who went there), but it is not a good school.

      I mean, look at their wikipedia page

      • There are other sports schools and the said thing is HR will take the some from a well known sports school over some one who was more real skills and or went to tech / trade school.

        I was talking in general about educational system where the non student athletes have skill gaps in there classes with to much theory vs real skills.

  • and after the courts rule on ncaa student athlete issues the fail out may force schools to rethink stuff even things like this.

  • So what does the school plan to do with the student athletes once the game's publisher shuts down the multiplayer servers? Or if the publisher brings legal action against the school for allowing matches to be televised in violation of the game's copyright?
    • That is why for any kind of gameing to hit NFL, NBA, NHL levels that there needs to be an players union, games that have 100% off line play / off line LAN play, and maybe even some cases an ban on people who work for the place who makes the game and or run the league from being able to play in the league.

      Sponsorship rules as well.

      • It's even worse with video games. In a traditional sport, if players or clubs grow tired of one league, they can start their own league to play the same game, and no publisher has veto power over anyone forming a new league with the proverbial blackjack and sex therapists [orain.org]. This is why college has both NCAA and NAIA, why pro baseball had both NL and AL, why pro American football had both NFL and AFL before they merged soon after what is now known as the first Super Bowl, and why pro basketball had the NBL, t
    • by Krishnoid (984597)

      Buy some hardware and provide scholarships in Software Engineering in MMORPG design and implementation?

    • While this is an issue in esports, potentially, Riot is not dumb enough to do this. They -- and a lot of other companies -- realize that the emergence of esports is tremendously profitable for their game in the long run.
  • The pursuit of a worthy opponent on the battlefield is, to a true warrior, the reason to rise each morning.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      The pursuit of a worthy opponent on the battlefield is, to a true warrior, the reason to rise each morning.

      The promise of one is the validation of his existence.

  • Finally, an opportunity for ladies of the non-bimbo persuasion.

  • This is a marketing gimmick.

    Scholarship money is heavily designed to give the student the idea of a "price break" when making a choice in school. Now this school is adding a bullshit scholarship to play video games to lure a lot of students there with the idea that "Oh, I can play video games and get paid!"

    No, you're not getting paid for it. You are getting a coupon for the university so they get your business, rather than you choosing another university that might be a better fit, or cheaper for you.

    • These kinds of scholarships are completely marketing BS anyway. Give them out for any reason whatsoever. Like car insurance, I get a "discount" for just about anything.. but only 1, I can't stack them (since they have such a long list the sales person can choose from to make you feel special.)

      Sports have no place in college. period. It is simply embarrassing the way we irrationally defend them. Just say you do it because you like the sport and want an excuse to get young men to play and prep for the pro

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