Collegiate Esports Expands Rapidly & Changes Competitive Dynamics

The growth of the esports market, particularly in US colleges, has been astronomical. Multiple universities now offer formal esports programs. Some even have coaches and dedicated esports arenas. And yes, there’s an apparent governing body – the National Association of Collegiate Esports. Today, roughly 135 colleges have an esports program.

Esports doesn’t require the massive investment of other collegiate sports, allowing smaller schools to become competitive alongside larger, more prominent rivals. Schools creating an esports program can also pair it with online education programs, and this offers two key benefits. First, schools like SUNY Canton can use their esports program to give online attendees the experience of being involved in extracurricular activities. (Much of my undergrad and graduate work was online and I always missed that feeling of being involved in the school, so I think this excellent.) Linking esports and online attendance also allows schools to recruit from a much wider talent base.

It is too early to say if this rapid expansion is just a fad or if it has an enduring future. Over the short-run, it will change how smaller schools compete for students and tuition dollars against larger schools with better brand recognition.