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The Future of Esports is Education

by Shawn Smith on 03/25/20 10:56:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

More and more universities are expanding their collegiate sports programs to provide esports offerings for future students. While the barrier of entry for esports is more inclusive than traditional sports (due to ease of access and physical requirements), the upside is substantially greater. Esports offers a high-growth, high-return solution for both universities and players interested in pursuing it at a collegiate level.

As an analytics platform, GYO Score conducted a study analyzing the correlation between esports athletes and their desired college majors - and the results were staggering. Of the 1,029 esports athletes who answered questions about their desired major or study interests, 50.4% answered that they are primarily interested to pursue college majors in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category. In this study, the STEM category includes majors such as:

  • Computer Science / Computer Programming
  • Medical Practice Majors
  • Engineering
  • Applied Sciences
  • Additional STEM-related fields

When compared to traditional athletics, esports players appear to have a higher variety of desired majors and study focuses than athletes pursuing a path with traditional sports such as football and basketball.  In 2016, a Bleacher Report study found college football athletes pursued degrees in business/finance and arts/social sciences much more heavily than degrees related to STEM degrees. Due to the methodology of the Bleacher Report study, direct comparison is not possible, as they have provided results with differing major groupings that are incompatible with the GYO study results. However, the Bleacher Report results do show a high percentage of college football athletes gravitated towards business and social sciences, with only 9% of student athletes falling into the “Arts and Sciences” category of the study.

What does this mean for colleges? More athletes pursuing high-paying careers and, in return, a likely higher graduation rate of STEM-focused grads. This can lead to better donations from alumni, improved programs relating to sciences, and an overall improvement in a college’s brands. For players, this can lead to more scholarship opportunities, expanded esports opportunities, and pursuing a degree at more competitive esports schools.

As esports continues to grow, we'll see more colleges offering significant opportunities for their athletes to thrive and even offering larger amounts of scholarships to ensure they're securing the best talent. There's no doubt about it - the future of esports is education.


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