FLINT – Esports are coming to the University of Michigan-Flint.

UM-Flint announced in a press release Monday morning that it will field an esports team beginning this fall.

Esports are organized video game competitions played by teams or individuals and more than 400 colleges or universities around the country and in Canada sponsor some form of the sport, according to an MLive story from 2019.

University officials hope esports will help entice students to enroll at the campus in downtown Flint.

“We are always seeking ways in which UM-Flint can be responsive to what prospective students are looking for in a campus,” Kristi Hottenstein, UM-Flint’s vice chancellor for enrollment management, said in a prepared statement.

“The rise of esports in higher education is a hot topic right now, and more and more students are looking at esports as an important criterion for selecting a university – either as an academic discipline or a social pursuit.”

Esports will be a club sport at UM-Flint, which has allocated funding for the project and will provide space for the team to practice, train and compete.

At least 15 other colleges and universities in Michigan offer esports, according to UM-Flint, which is calling it “a potential recruitment and retention tool, a way to engage students who do not otherwise participate in campus activities as well.”

“In the next ten years, I expect every university to offer esports to students,” said Jason Gooding, a support specialist in the university’s Information Technology Services who will help lead the team this fall.

“In many ways, the community and support you feel from an esports team is the same as any other, with emphasis on working with others, social skills, strategic thinking and planning, self-directed learning and time management.

“I hope this is just the beginning of esports at UM-Flint. I know students who have expressed interest in game design, marketing and production, cybersecurity, and management. The possibility to make aspects of esports an academic discipline is something I hope we’ll explore in the near future.”

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