E-sports: A Sport Phenomenon with Sustainable Growth

EKU Online > E-sports: A Sport Phenomenon with Sustainable Growth

One of the first courses sport management students enroll in at EKU is “Sports in American Society”. In this course we take an in-depth look at how sport, and the discussion around sport, has evolved over the years. One of the first assignments in the class is answering the question, “What is sport?” Students provide a range of responses to this question with focuses on racecar driving, professional wrestling; and even some fun discussion on paper, rock, scissors. One debate is whether showing a non-traditional sport on sports television gives it legitimacy as a sport.

Over the years this debate has intensified with ESPN and other sports media channels airing poker championships and other borderline “sports.”

E-sports Joins the Conversation

The evolution of this discussion has shifted to a new sports phenomenon: E-sports. E-sports are comprised of any video game that allows for organized, multiplayer, non–geographically bound, real-time competitions with or against other players or teams. The primary aspects of the game are facilitated by electronic systems, and the input of players and teams as well as the output of the electronic system are mediated by human–computer interfaces.

Notably, E-sports has evolved from video game arcades to the growth of Atari and Nintendo home gaming. Today, players connect and game with others around the globe via the Internet.

Traditional sports and E-sports share many similarities. The key difference is that traditional sports use gross motor movements while E-sports use fine motor skills.

In the future, we may see traditional professional sport groups and E-sports teams expand those similarities. In fact, multiple NBA sports organizations have made investments into E-sports organizations. This includes ownership behind the Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Growth of E-sports in College Programming

E-sports participation is likely to continue to grow. As a result, more people will play, watch, and consume sports with E-sports becoming a big part of college programming. EKU sport management alumni Kyle Reece is the Coordinator of Sports and Recreational Programming at Oakland University in Michigan. Reece states that “In the early 2010’s E-sports was considered a minor offering in terms of programs with 5-10 participants at each event for something offered 2-3 times a semester.” “Now it is offered 7-10 times a semester with 40-50 participants per program.”

At the 2022 college of health sciences scholars day, EKU graduate student Cory Jones presented research “E-sports: Fad or For Real.” Jones notes, “The expansion and growth of E-sports globally has many benefits for young people involved.” Similar to what Reece noted, Jones indicates that, “A big part of E-sports for students in a college campus is the social aspect that is important to the E-sports community locally, nationally, and internationally.”

In conclusion, E-sports is no small investment for college campuses. According to Reece, Oakland University has invested over $100,000 to renovate a space for students to enjoy E-sports the 7 club teams to compete. The renovated space sees hundreds of students interacting daily through a shared interest in E-sports. This peer-to-peer connection will hopefully increase student retention, something that is vital to institutional success in a post-Covid world. 

New Online Course Offering

Summer 2022, EKU is offering a new class titled E-Sports Management. This will be the first efforts of EKU to offer a class focusing on this growing aspect of sport management.

Interested in studying E-sports within sport management?

Earn your bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for over 15 years. Our flexible, online format provides students the ability to complete coursework and assignments according to their schedule.

Complete the form to learn more about how EKU Online’s sport management program can help advance your career.

By: Dr. Joel Cormier, Coordinator EKU Sport Management Program

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