Move over, football, basketball and baseball; there’s a new sport getting attention at Miami University.
As of this fall, Miami U has a varsity “eSports” team for competitive online video gaming. They’ve also built a state-of-the-art facility and will be offering scholarships next year.
Members of the Redhawks eSports program were in King Library Tuesday, preparing for a match against Iowa State.
“People don’t understand that our athletes are that: they’re athletes,” junior interactive media studies major Matt McFarland said. “They come from all different backgrounds. We also have people, including myself, that had offers to play collegiately for actual sports. These aren’t people you see sitting back eating Doritos all day.”
They play games like “Overwatch.” The competition against Iowa State Tuesday will be in “Heathstone.”
“I know traditional sports has a lot of, kind of, brotherhood aspects to it, and I played lacrosse through high school and things, so I always liked that aspect of sports and we don’t lose any of that here,” “Hearthstone” competitor Bradley Frysinger, a junior information systems major, said.
Glenn Platt, co-director of the eSports program, said the team is an essential component to the students’ education.
“I think the fact that Miami has this integrated eSports and academic mission, that’s a really unique angle,” he said. “Almost every other eSports team in the country lives as sort of an extracurricular activity, and for us this is all tied into what we see as making our students more productive members of society.”
The match against Iowa State will be broadcast on Twitch at 9 p.m.
For anyone not convinced that eSports are a big deal: in 2014, there were 89 million fans. That number is expected to grow to 145 million fans, equivalent to that of the NFL. And the International Olympic Committee is exploring eSports as an Olympic sport.
This article contains reporting by our news partner WCPO.