Couch Athlete

Ethan Sutton, Staff Writer

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He’s at the 50…

…the 40…

…the 20…

…the…

(PAUSE)

The athlete rises from the couch, walks to the fridge, grabs a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew Pitch Black, and returns to the couch to resume his game.

…10…

TOUCHDOWN!

The crowd noise that is blasted through the speakers is fake, but the adrenaline rush is real.

eSports brings out the competitors in all of us. And now, it can also bring on opportunities beyond high school.

Competitive video gaming, also known as eSports, is gaining popularity worldwide, even to the point where Utah universities are offering scholarships for gamers to play for their school.

eSports have been around since competitive games have existed, but have grown in popularity due the the amount of gamers in the world. A popular video game, League of Legends by Riot Games, has gone to the extent of hosting a world cup to have teams from countries around the world face themselves and each other for a chance at the sweet taste of victory.

League of Legends has reached college students where they compete in an official  Riot Games sponsored league: ULoL. Universities across the United States, including the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, compete for a prize pot full of scholarship money. Just for playing on the team, the University of Utah can offer scholarships.

Universities aren’t just looking for League of Legends players, though. They also have teams in Overwatch, Rocket League, Hearthstone, and more. Some of the teams are school-sponsored while others are clubs, but the games are still the same.

The High School eSports League (HSEL) has already been established. They are currently partnered with Logan, Cyprus, Juan Diego, and San Juan in Utah. With a somewhat large population of gamers at Highland, it could be very possible that the Rams could start and eSports team.

“I would watch eSports,” Highland student Hayden Bracken said. “I have watched some online so I’d probably watch Highland.

But what are the rewards for gaming? The answer: plenty. The University of Utah has scholarships being offered, where placing can earn thousands of dollars in total scholarship money for the team. Depending on the skill level on the team as well, certain members of a team can be recruited to official eSport teams and turn video gaming into a profession.

“I think it would be cool to see Highland unite and conquer as team players within gaming,” Student Body Spirit Chair Seth Ahlers said. “I think there are enough players that it would be a popular club at Highland.”

However, it may possibly be a trial to get support from the Rams.

“I think it would be fun, but I don’t think the school would support it,” Math teacher Brandon Richards said. “I don’t think many people would like to see digital violence.”

But, there are students at Highland willing to start eSports teams. The games in question are most popularly Overwatch and League of Legends, with other games like Rocket League and Hearthstone starting to rise in popularity. Other gaming clubs may also start to rise, as Smash Club has already been established, so there is possible room for expansion at Highland for competitive gaming.

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Couch Athlete