South Korean University Now Accepts Gamers as Student Athletes
I found this interesting story today while checking emails and writing cover letters. The headline is attention grabbing: gamers as athletes? Certainly, gamers are the furthest thing possible from athletes...
Upon reflection, which is the role of the student athlete? In the US, student athletes bring attention and financial rewards to Universities. At Duke University, the Men's Basketball program provides a lot of notoriety and generates a huge profit for the University.
While this seems like a lot of money, the amount of money Duke makes from its Men's Basketball program pales in comparison to how much money is generated by the top 25 Football programs in the US.
In the US, student athletes are more athlete than student.
Moreover, many student athletes in the US are only enrolled in University programs as a stepping stone to professional leagues, with varying degrees of success.
In the US, many student athletes do not graduate and if they do, it is often the result of taking less challenging courses.
With this in mind, I think Chung-Ang University has really just made a logical step by accepting gamers as student athletes. If one of the purposes of student sports programs is to generate notoriety and financial rewards, accepting gamers will accomplish both tasks nicely. Competitive gaming is mainstream in Korea: Starcraft matches are televised. Another factor is I believe that accepting gamers as student athletes will attract better students than many of the student athletes in US schools.
When I look back on my University days (so very long ago), I remember that many of the most prolific gamers and hackers were enrolled in Engineering and Computer Science and most of them graduated to successful careers in their dedicated fields of study. In this case, I think gamers may actually portray the role of student athlete more authentically than football and basketball players in US Universities do.