OPINION: Give esports the recognition it needs

With the spotlight only on a few sports here, give esports a chance



Esports is a new area that can be utilized by universities everywhere. WSU should give more to esports opportunities on campus to help them succeed into new games and allow them to expand their horizons even further.


Washington State University is not a school that is revered for its athletic achievements. We do well but never seem to be the best. Yet every year the university spends an increasing amount of school funds on the athletic departments and leaves other areas of the school untouched. One of these almost untouched interests is the growing presence of esports.

WSU needs to prioritize esports to diversify its various competitive sports.

Over the last few years there has been a serious increase in the number of students expressing interest in participating in a more formally established league. This is met with the obvious challenge of finding and allocating funding to a new program that is not recognized by the university as being essential or profitable.

The esports club on campus provides a home for several different teams in several different games, including “Overwatch,” “Rocket League” and “Rainbow Six Siege” and are currently in the process of establishing others. They host biweekly get-togethers in the Chinook Student Center Room 25, which is the new esports lounge on campus, open to the general public or anyone interested in gaming. Each semester they try to host between two and three sponsored events, with big names like Tespa, an esports company and Extra Life, a charity organization, getting involved.

“In the past year or so, we’ve worked with organizations on campus as well as the school itself to establish a varsity esports program that is still in its infancy stages but is looking to grow exponentially in the next couple of semesters,” said Eric Johnson, esports club marketing director.

In recent years the presence of WSU alums in the professional worlds of both esports and video game marketing has grown exponentially. With these additional connections, the ability to find support for esports rests more on students expressing interest and commitment rather than anything else.

“Come to me and we’ll march together,” Marvin Marcelo, a clinical associate professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, said of students with a strong interest in participating and potentially founding a varsity esports league on campus.

Marcello said that if people are interested in esports they should reach out, because he has connections with prominent esports players and alumni in the field. The communications college has access to some of the necessary technologies and spaces needed to host large scale competitions.

The students on campus who are already participating are in the process of building a community for themselves. Their ability to use a loosely established organization and find a way to create a stronger team, even getting invited to a national competition in New York last year, demonstrates their commitment to this growing phenomenon.

Their progress speaks to the influence of esports on student life and the future of campus involvement. Their steps towards establishing a more formal program have progressed quickly and provide enough evidence for why they need some serious backing. The interest is apparent, the accessibility is undeniable and the potential for gain is enormous.

Other universities including Boise State & University of California, Irvine have already established more than just an esports team. To be precise the number of colleges with varsity esports programs went from seven in 2016, to over 63 by the start of 2019.

These campuses see the value in creating an esports program because of the undeniable benefits. Major gaming streams grasp the attention of millions of viewers all the time, so why not bring that to college sports? The ease of entry, accessibility and undeniable presence in modern media are just a few reasons we need to consider making esports a legitimate varsity sport at WSU.