Esports deserves more recognition

Competitive esports have been on the rise for the better part of a decade and show no signs of slowing down. Most recently, collegiate esports has become more popular by the day.

We are seeing esports programs throughout the country put in hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruiting, scholarships, and even training facilities for their student athletes, with Minnesota State University, Mankato being the most recent to do so.

So now the question is, how much recognition do these programs deserve, and is it the same level as NCAA sports?

Esports should be more widely recognized as a collegiate sport, and not just a club or a fun hobby.

Athletes in varsity programs have a lot of similarities to athletes in traditional sports. A contract must be signed to participate, esport athletes have required practice time each week with the team and by themselves, watch VOD reviews (similar to watching film) to learn about themselves and their opponents, and so much more.

MNSU has sponsored their esports program, giving them all the resources they need to succeed. In only its second year of existence, the program is a finalist for the top Collegiate Esports Program in the annual Esports Awards.

The program has sunk a lot of resources into recruiting for this season, and have even reached the top 10 in the Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War power rankings.

Despite this, ranging across all of their titles, the program only averages around 75 viewers per stream on any given game with just under 500 followers on Twitch, in a school that has an enrollment of over 14,000 students. With at least some of the 500 followers being alumni and the current athletes on the team, that’s an astonishingly low number of support for a school sanctioned and nationally recognized program.

With that being said, it is much more of a niche thing to understand. It is a lot harder to throw on the stream on your TV and immediately know what’s happening than it is with traditional sports like football, baseball, or hockey. There should still be more support for these teams because the players put in just as much work to represent our University and put Mankato on the map for one of the top collegiate esports in the country.

Some ways that you can support the teams at MNSU is to follow their Twitch channel, follow their social media accounts, and check out their games. The schedule for every team’s matches are on the MNSU website, making it easier to know when the matches are being played.

Give esports athletes the support they worked hard for and deserve, and help put MNSU on top as the top collegiate esport program in the country.

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