Today in turning society on its head news, Robert Morris University in Chicago is making a full-fledged varsity sport out of multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends. Like other sports, it’ll have scholarships, a coach, uniforms—all that sports stuff (but no official word on butt-slapping policy or non-athlete swirlie quota just yet).
RMU has decided to tear down the wall between jocks and nerds by accepting between 45 and 50 qualified eSports applicants for their League of Legends team, according to Athletic Director Kurt Melcher. The RMU website says that interested students should contact Melcher directly by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and if accepted, they’ll receive scholarships of up to 50% of their tuition and the same for their room and board.
Acceptance and scholarship amounts, like traditional sports, will be based on eSports participation in high school. That’s a pretty sweet deal, considering that all I got from playing lots of video games in high school was some thumb blisters and weird Final Fantasy/Pokémon crossover nightmares.
Melcher’s background is in traditional sports, so the university will bring on a coach to help the team practice. League of Legends developer Riot Games has already suggested some “higher-end gamers” as candidates, Melcher said. That way they’ll have someone to ensure the team stays on track, make informed decisions on which applicants to accept, and to dump Mountain Dew and Red Bull on after victories.
The team will compete in the Collegiate Star League, which means going up against teams from Harvard, MIT, and more. However, RMU is the first to offer scholarships and full athletic program status to their League of Legends team. So, they’ve got that working in their favor as far as intimidation factor goes–though as eSports continue their march towards global dominance, it’s only a matter of time before other schools follow suit. Then, the social structure of student athletics will be brought to its knees by this nerd-jock paradox, and college life will get all Beyond Thunderdome, just like it does on pretty much half of all Community episodes.
(via Neatorama, image via Robert Morris University)
- Catch the replay of the League of Legends All Star 2014 tournament
- A South Korean university recently did something similar
- The Smash Bros. Invitational tournament gave eSports some Nintendo love