Gaming gets a scholarship at University of Utah
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Gaming gets a scholarship at University of Utah

Collegiate sports are a big deal in the U.S., where universities act as a talent funnel to the big leagues for baseball, basketball, American football and more. And now, the fast-growing eSports industry is catching them up. The University of Utah will start offering a scholarship for competitive video gaming – something that would have been unimaginable 5 or 10 years ago. Given Utah’s prominence in the collegiate sports world, this is a huge step forward for competitive gamers and the industry they represent.

Time and money have been increasingly devoted to eSports since 2000

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SOURCE: gamurs.com

Utah is not the first university to offer a gaming scholarship alongside other collegiate sport scholarships, but it is by far the largest. Utah is the first of the “power five” – the richest athletic conferences in college sports – to offer an eSports scholarship, and as such, this is a ringing endorsement of the industry from people who really matter. A. J. Dimick, who will run the scholarship program, is enthusiastic, saying: “We want other schools to join us. Let’s move this along together.”

In 2016, the Princeton Review named Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering department as the best video game design program in the country. And it is this body that will fund the scholarship. This could be a roadmap for other schools, given that eSports has many of the elements that competitive sports do, but does not naturally sit within the athletics department. Whether the scholarship will eventually include input from Utah Athletics is as yet unknown.

At first, gamers on Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships, but the long-term plan is to expand to more games. As with any other collegiate sport, Utah expects there to be a potential marketing and sponsorship deal monetization route within eSports. Eventually, the university hopes to offer 35 full time gaming scholarships.

While Utah is the first big player to get involved, many smaller institutions are experimenting with eSports scholarships, including the University of California, Irvine, which recently built an e-Sports specific arena on its campus.

Disclosure

Dominion holds a number of companies that are exposed to the eSports trend in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund, most notably Activision Blizzard, Take Two Interactive, and Electronic Arts.  


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