Esports is seeing phenomenal growth, with the worldwide market expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2023. There are professional esports leagues for popular video games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Call of Duty, Halo, Fortnite, and more.
As the popularity of esports continues to increase, colleges and universities have begun embracing esports as well. Last year, some 200 U.S. colleges offered about $16 million in esports scholarships, NBC News reports. That’s a threefold increase in scholarship money since 2015.
“With the growth at the professional level, esports has drawn the attention of college administrations who now realize that it is a legitimate industry—[and one] that appeals to their core demographic,” says Patrick Ocampo, director of membership services and sales for the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
With esports enjoying huge popularity among teens, “it’s important for colleges to develop [esports] programs in order to help drive participation and enrolment,” he says.
NACE oversees varsity esports at U.S. colleges and universities and has about 160 members, most of whom offer esports scholarships. “Competition starts with the game developers, who control the licenses to their products,” Ocampo explains. “They decide whether they want to run competition themselves or allow outside organizations to do so. In our case, we have agreements with the makers of Rocket League, CS:GO, SMITE, and Fortnite to run national-level competitions in those games.”