FOR THE WEEK OF SEP. 15, 2014
Videogame ‘athletes:’ Are you college scholarship material?
Read a college sports story and list how players’ skills are similar to – or different than – those of video gamers.
Look for news about another recreational activity and tell why it does or doesn't appeal to you.
Pick an article about an electronic device or other technology and list the main school subjects that help prepare for jobs that field.
Varsity video gaming? Don’t laugh. Robert Morris University in Chicago has recruited about 30 online sports players this fall with half-tuition scholarships totaling more than $500,000. So even if you don’t have strength, speed or skill for an athletic scholarship, now there's an alternative if your eye-brain reflexes are nimble and you're fast at a console.The small private university says it recognizes the legitimacy of what are called e-sports. So leisure-time hours of playing could pay off – especially for those good at League of Legends, one of the most popular online video games. Its players of that game control warriors in a science fiction setting.
Gamers at Robert Morris this fall join more than 100 other schools in the Collegiate Star League, where League of Legends opponents include teams from Harvard, Arizona State and George Washington University. The Illinois school wants to be at the "forefront of providing opportunities for a diverse student population with different interests and skills," says an associate athletic director in charge of the new program. Scholarships awarded for the current academic year cover up to 50 percent of tuition, housing and meals – worth as much as $17,000 to $22,000.
In addition to college tournaments, there also are professional video game competitions that sell out giant arenas. Some attract at-home audiences larger than those of top traditional sporting events. Prizes have soared to the millions of dollars, and top players attract big followings.
University says: "League of Legends is a competitive, challenging game which requires significant amount of teamwork to be successful." – Kurt Melcher, Robert Morris University associate athletic director
Student says: "This is a very mentally taxing game, especially when you're being pitted against five other individuals." – Andrew Dixon of Lockport, Ill., senior at Robert Morris who plays League of Legends
Pro league executive says: "If you don’t want to call it athletics or sports, that doesn't . . . change the reality of the massive growth we're seeing." – James Lampkin of Electronic Sports League, based in Germany
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