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Esports is a Valid Extracurricular Activity, and Now is the Time to Explore it!
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Esports is a Valid Extracurricular Activity, and Now is the Time to Explore it!

By Evan and Michele Shubin

Full disclosure: the authors are happy customers of Game Gym. They also recently became investors in Game Gym and members of the senior management team.

As parents of two teenage boys, we were skeptical about the benefits of video games, and we thought that our sons were spending too much time gaming.

But we are here to tell you that esports is a valid extracurricular activity, and given the challenges that we are all currently facing, now is a great time to embrace it, and explore how it can help your kids thrive in the current environment, and in the future.

Many video games encourage teamwork, strategic thinking, and the development of strong communication skills.  Our older son Samuel plays League of Legends, which is much like an online game of five-on-five capture the flag.  Players benefit when they work together to reach a common goal.  Team members have different roles and responsibilities, and can choose to play different characters with various attributes that benefit the position they are playing, and help to further the team’s objectives.

Ohio State has Gone BIG on esports!

Samuel is a freshman at Ohio State, just one of the many schools that have fully embraced esports not only as a university-supported athletic activity, but as a valid career path.  For League of Legends alone, the school will be offering six full scholarships next year for members of the varsity team.  In addition, the university has invested $16 million over four years to launch the nation’s first esports major, offering cross-disciplinary concentrations (and potential career paths) in game design, game programming, and esports business management.  Many schools will undoubtedly follow…there are currently more than 500 universities nationwide with League of Legends teams.

Samuel is the analyst and assistant coach of the university’s team, a position for which he will likely receive a stipend next year. As part of the team, he has access to all of the resources and support of the Ohio State University athletics program. If he chose to do so, his participation at Ohio State could very well lead to a full-time job and career in esports – not necessarily as a player, but as a coach, analyst, or business manager.

College Esports Opportunities are on the Rise

In addition to Ohio State, more than 200 colleges and universities are offering esports scholarships, including Marquette, University of Texas at Dallas, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Robert Morris University, University of Utah, Harrisburg University, and UC Irvine.  Here is a list of all the schools that currently have a varsity esports program:

Our younger son Matthew is a freshman at Churchill, and he plays Overwatch, another very popular game where two teams of six players each compete in a military-style exercise to move key assets forward through contested territory.  Once again, teamwork, strong communication skills, and strategic thinking and execution are all key factors that lead to a team’s success.

Matthew may or may not receive a scholarship to play Overwatch in college, but by the time he applies, more and more colleges will recognize esports as a valid extracurricular activity, and high achievement in esports will be a viewed as a “gold star,” especially in combination with strong participation in such areas as music, traditional sports, and other activities.

Here is an especially compelling article from WIRED magazine about the business of esports, and college scholarships:

The 2018 League of Legends World Championship was watched by more than 200 million people – more than the Super Bowl and the Final Four combined!

Game Gym Can Help!

Which brings us to Game Gym.  Game Gym offers a wide variety of online esports activities, and focuses on a healthy approach to gaming.  A key strength is Game Gym’s coaching staff, who promote active lifestyles, gaming with balance, and health and nutrition. In addition to being avid gamers, they are artists, coders, ex-military, athletes, lawyers, mechanical engineers, graphic designers, and photographers.

Participation in Game Gym programs allows you to encourage your kids to do something they love – play video games – while also learning to make healthy lifestyle choices, balance gaming with other activities, and participate in educational sessions on the business of esports, game design, injury prevention, and much more.  It’s a win-win for you and for them!

Camp Gym has offered successful in-person programs in the past, including summer camps, “fill in the gap” camps, and coaching sessions and tournaments during the school year.  During this period of “social distancing,” Game Gym is offering online sessions during afternoons and weekends, and a full-day program during the upcoming spring break.

Then, depending on the situation with the virus, when summer arrives, Game Gym will continue to offer these online programs, plus add in-person summer camp if appropriate.