Hey, parents, is your kid so consumed with esports he (she) doesn’t want to play traditional sports? Well, consider the fact that Shaun White’s parents might have wished he would do something less “frivolous” than skateboarding and snowboarding. Shaun turned out OK, though – a global phenom who has transformed his obsession into a career.
Granted, Shaun’s sports of choice provide excellent physical exercise, whereas esports are a less-active kid's dream. But still, Mom and Dad, there are future career opportunities lurking within all that video gaming, just as there are in traditional sports.
Sports are all about stats, so here are a few to consider:
- As of 2016, global esports revenue totaled about $500 million. As of 2023, it’s predicted to reach nearly $1.6 billion.
- There are now professional esports teams and leagues around the world.
- A professional gamer from South Korea named Faker reportedly earns more than $2 million a year.
That all-important sense of belonging
Gen Z (anyone born after 1997) is the digital generation. It should be no surprise that they gravitate to a video/virtual playing field to compete with their friends. Gaming is now one of the most popular affinity groups on college campuses. Plus, in a recent survey we conducted, almost 60% of parents reported that their child plays on an esports team. That's more than play a traditional sport - only 37% of children age 6-12 play traditional sports on a regular basis.
Taking note, a growing number of colleges are making esports an official part of their program.
- The Redbird Esports program at Illinois State University caters to both competitive and casual players.
- The University of Delaware has a facility specifically dedicated to esports.
- The University of Delaware also creatively switched sports to ensure a lively homecoming game despite the pandemic, replacing their traditional football match with William & Mary with a lively esports competition instead. It was broadcast live by the – yes – Electronic Gaming Federation.
- Colleges in the US and the UK now offer esports courses.
- And several US colleges, including Illinois State, now offer esports scholarships. Did you catch that, parents?
Not to be left out, municipal rec programs are getting into the act as well. In Port St. Lucie, FL, the parks and rec department is now into their second esports season, which has grown to 170 players. High schools around the country are also getting serious about esports.
And in case you’re wondering what’s trending in this corner of the sports world, here are the Top 10 Esports Games in 2021.
Esports are replete with teachable moments
Just like traditional sports, kids can gain a wealth of valuable life lessons from their play experience. Like what? Tony Doody, director of the University of Delaware’s student centers, cites all these benefits:
- Critical, creative thinking
- Problem solving
- Strategic planning
- Analytical processing
So, about that career
"People are looking for a way to not only connect with each other, but connect their learning to how they're going to be successful in the future," says Dawn Pote, executive director of campus recreation at Illinois State University. “Some of the leadership development that comes from communicating and being effective in esports transfers right over."
The British Esports Association says, “You don’t need to be a professional gamer to land a job within esports.” In fact, their list of opportunities includes everything from traditional sports-related careers (players, coaches, analysts, broadcasters, journalists, etc.) to a range of technology, legal, finance and marketing options. Essentially the full range of jobs you’d find with any other complex business.
Steve Kramarck agrees. He is associate director of university student affairs and serves as esports program director at the University of Delaware. "It blows people away when they look at the ecosystem of what kind of jobs are out there that are directly under esports, or directly esports adjacent,” says. “For people who come through this major or are involved with the program, there are a lot of places they can jump to from here.”
It’s not really a team until you have official team wear
With esports athletes forming up into teams and leagues, and colleges formally offering esports play and learning, there’s just one thing needed to make this a true sport: spirit wear! The competition might be hotly intense, but you gotta look cool no matter what. And who better to shop at an online spirit wear store than esports athletes and their fondest fans!
We at SquadLocker stand ready to help launch your store and stock it with the ultimate in must-have team-branded apparel.
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