College scholarships to play video games?
It’s not as crazy as you think; in fact it’s happening now, and at least two Wisconsin legislators want to make sure the state isn’t left behind.
In mid-February, state Reps. Tip McGuire, D-Somers, and Kalan Haywood, D-Milwaukee, introduced LRB-3801, creating a grant program for Wisconsin schools to establish esports programs.
McGuire noted that esports — i.e. video-game-based competitions — is a rapidly growing field that provides a competitive environment that can be more inclusive than traditional athletic events.
At the start of the 2018 school year, there were 128 colleges/universities offering approximately $15 million in scholarships related to esports, McGuire said. In five years, that number is expected to rise to 800 colleges/universities and $100 million in scholarships.
Not unlike sporting events, esports tournaments draw thousands of spectators and rake in millions of dollars. According to statistics compiled by Newzoo, there were nearly 900 major esports events in 2019 that brought in ticket revenue of more than $56 million.
And it is possible to “go pro” in esports, with top gamers making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Also notable is that esports can be played on a level field by anyone — height, weight, gender and physical prowess are not factors.