What are esports?
Esports is the formal exercise of competitive video gaming and is best used to describe the framework under which this community operates. Publishers, Colleges, and many independent leagues have used a traditional athletics outline to structure the organization of their video gaming offerings, and many colleges with varsity esports programs put that program under athletics and treat it in a similar fashion to other athletic offerings. From participant to spectator, to administrative, the esports and traditional sports environments function in a remarkably similar fashion.
How can esports benefit my child?
Gaming is immensely popular with the youth of today, with Pew Research finding around 70% of college kids in 2012 were gamers in some capacity. Video games have a strong impact on communication skills, socialization, hand eye coordination, and teamwork.
Many students will not have the opportunity to participate in, or be recruited for, traditional athletic opportunities after high school. Student-Athletes may be miss out on opportunities to play at a certain school due to positional considerations, cutbacks, or other considerations. College backed esports programs help to better match students with schools and degrees where they can be successful, and the implemented structures provide students a toolkit to better thrive in the collegiate environment. Many schools that offer varsity or equivalent esports programs have health and wellness support, dedicated coaching, tutoring, grade support, etc. for their students. Many schools offer scholarships and the admissions department will take feedback from coaches into consideration when making admissions decisions. Esports are quickly becoming a regular part of campus life, and the added benefits and considerations that esports can provide to a potential student are like traditional athletics in many cases. At SPIRE, we believe that it is this addition of support, guidance and coaching that will be transformative for many students who otherwise may not seek out the benefits of traditional sports. Esports offers a competitive outlet that any player can tap into, providing a catalyst for the lessons we have traditionally learned through team based athletic competitions. Dealing with adversity, success, and failure, learning to work with others, learning to be unselfish for the good of the team, to take feedback and improve, are all lessons that can be effectively conveyed through an esports experience.
Which colleges are involved?
175 higher educational institutions are members of National Association of Collegiate Esports and offer varsity esports programs that include partial or full esports scholarships, coaching, and departmental support. At least 314 schools are active in TESPA, and others participate in other online and in person leagues. Notable schools include Ohio State University, Robert Morris, SNHU, Assumption College, Full Sail University, Northeastern University, UCI, ASU and more!
Why an Academy setting like SPIRE for esports?
An Academy system develops the necessary skills and mindset in the student to achieve success. SPIRE esports is not just about learning how to be a great player in game, it is developing the mental skillset, the physical health, the strategic mindset, and the general academic mindset to be successful in whatever opportunities present themselves. Talent is a great starting point, but it is learned skills, like leadership, presence, mindfulness, and the ability to overcome adversity which set a player and a student apart. When a student leaves SPIRE for their next great opportunity, whether that is in college, with an organization, or a career, they can be confident that the skills they’ve learned here will set them apart and help them reach their full potential. Many professional esports organizations use an Academy system to foster the best possible talent. SPIRE is democratizing this process and bringing it to the high school level to better prepare students for college and career.
What about a sedentary lifestyle, isn’t that dangerous?
SPIRE advocates for a healthy well-rounded lifestyle, and students participating in the esports programs will get the benefit of working with our excellent strength and conditioning staff, nutritional experts, and mental skills coaches. It is not just about playing games; it is about leveraging the student’s love of games to engage them on multiple meaningful levels.
Gamers are playing longer. Injury at the collegiate and professional esports levels are a real thing, and much of that risk comes from poor/lack of training, combined with repetitive motion-based injuries. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in strength training to support the wrist elbow, shoulder and back, eating correctly to get the best mental clarity and focus, will all help a student achieve more in game. If they want to be the best, these are the steps that are crucial to building their mind and body up to maximize their potential. Using that competitive drive and harnessing it into constructive behaviors is what SPIRE esports is all about!