Rise of esports helps kids earn scholarships

(WXYZ) — When it comes to esports, Oakland University ranks among the top varsity college teams in the country, but many people in the area are still not familiar with esports.

“Esports is competitive gaming at its most basic level. So you can think of it just like traditional sports without football or basketball, just with gaming titles,” Oakland University esports Head Coach Carl Leone said.

It’s reported as a billion dollar industry, and many people think esports is solely playing video games. But it’s not. Instead, it’s team-based competitions that can lead to professional careers and big money.

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For Leone, it’s a dream job. He recruits and coaches players who rank in at least the top 5% of the country – rankings that have their perks.

“Last year, there was about 200 schools that gave scholarships for gaming. Now there’s 350,” Leone said.

Now, it’s also co-ed.

Edward Azzam, a highly-ranked scholarship athlete, sat down with me and showed me how to play Rocket League. The game is described by its designers as “high-powered hybrid of arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem.”

In the game, you drive a vehicle in an arena while playing soccer.

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It was a steep learning curve for me to say the least, but perhaps parents may discover their kids have talent.

“If you start early as a kid and you have that passion, it can drive you through all of your years of development, and you can probably become a really good player if you get the proper support,” Azzam said. “So, if you’re a parent, I’d say attend local events. See what’s available in your area, talk to other parents who may also have kids who are interested in esports because the number is growing pretty rapidly.”

There’s also an organization in the state dedicated to esports – The Michigan High School Esports League.

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“Esports is really emerging at our high schools, also at middle schools across the State of Michigan,” Wendy Zdeb with the MHSEL said.

According to Zdeb, the level of skill and gamesmanship in esports brings with it the science, tech and engineering components that educators like to see.

She said some middle school clubs may expose students to coding or the inner workings of video game graphics.

“One of the statistics that jumped out of to me was that 45% of the students involved in esports weren’t involved in any other activity,” Zdeb said.

This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here

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