Esports: The New Athletic Frontier

Esports is changing the game for athletic programs across the country, and Thomas College is excited to be part of the action. Thomas College esports is recognized as a varsity sport, and we offer tools and resources that allow our student-athletes to hone their skills — like the Thomas College Esports CAVE (Competitive Academic Varsity Esports), a state-of-the-art esports training facility located on campus. 

As a market valued at over $1 billion, esports provides ample opportunities for students to learn and grow their skill set while setting them up for success after graduation. Here, we’ll break down what defines esports and how it can benefit students during their time at Thomas College and beyond. 

What are esports?

Esports are competitive video game tournaments played by individuals and teams. There are a variety of games involved, ranging from first-person RPGs (role-playing games) to strategy games to sport simulations. 

Played in front of a live audience or online, esports have opened the door for students all over the world to compete virtually and have gained recognition globally as a legitimate form of competition. The Olympics is even hosting its first ever Olympic Esports Week in the summer of 2023.  

How are esports like traditional sports?

Esports have come a very long way from video games played in your bedroom or basement. And as the industry continues to evolve, so does its recognition in athletic programs. In many ways, esports is very similar to traditional sports, with some of the same objectives and training required. For example: 

  1. Competition is the name of the game: Like traditional sports, players and teams compete against each other, tapping into strategy, teamwork, and skill to win the game.

  2. Physical and mental training are essential: Although not as physically strenuous as most traditional sports, esports requires a great deal of mental exertion and skill. Most esport student-athletes follow a strict exercise routine and practice mental strategies to build up their focus and concentration.

  3. Events are organized: Esport competitions are planned, organized, and executed with leagues, tournaments, and championships just like traditional sports — and they often draw a crowd and additional revenue for their institution.
  4. It’s recognized by major sports organizations: The International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are some of the sports organizations that recognize esports as an official sport. 

How are esports like traditional sports?

As esports continues to grow in recognition and popularity, it’s paving the way for major shifts in how we view athletics as college and professional programs, such as: 

  • Expanding the definition of sports: Esports challenges traditional ideas of sports by emphasizing the mental aspects of competition, like strategy and skill. And because it’s usually not as physically exertive or taxing as most traditional sports, it opens the door to a wider group of players across a wide range of interests.
  • Attracting a new, younger audience: For young adults who grew up in a digital world, esports holds a strong appeal that’s comparable to traditional sports. The ability to stream games virtually also makes games and tournaments more accessible to fans who may not be in the same city, state, or even country. 
  • Driving innovation: The world of esports is still relatively new, which means there’s plenty of opportunity to explore new games, ideas, and technology to enhance the esport experience. Game developers are already starting to push boundaries with gaming technology; and as the tech continues to grow, so do the possibilities.
  • Creating new career opportunities: The esport industry itself already creates several avenues for those looking to pursue a career in gaming, from players to coaches to broadcasters and others. And Thomas College esports also put academics and skill building in the forefront, supporting our players in building transferable skills like critical thinking, leadership, and decision making throughout their college careers. You can even pursue a bachelor’s degree in Esports and Gaming Management.
  • Generating new sources of revenue: Like traditional sports, esports can provide additional revenue streams in terms of sponsorships, advertisements, and media coverage, often for a different audience than traditional sports. This means more awareness and opportunities for our esport program and student-athletes. 

As far as Thomas College esports go, this is only the beginning. We’re excited to support our student-athletes and continue to find ways to help them to grow in the esport space throughout their college experience and beyond graduation.