Going For a Scholarship

I like news. I am sure I have also mentioned prior my love for The Economist as a news source – it seems to be as neutral as it gets and that is very refreshing considering how polar opposite the same story is reported on Blue news (CNN) and Red news (Fox) in North America. That probably stems from The Economist being a UK based publication. Sure, the subtle tendencies are there, they just aren’t so in your face about it. It is more intelligent and nuanced than Fox saying the President is a terrorist or CNN announcing that the President solved terrorism all on his own. See how silly those sound? The Economist would write something like: “The President impacts terrorism” and then provide all sorts of stats and studies indicating how terrorism was affected. Anyway, it’s a lot drier than most news but really – news doesn’t need to be dramatized. It tends to be people’s real lives which is drama enough.

I also enjoy news aggregators. I have a couple that I use, Flipboard and Zite – of the two I use Flipboard far more often. I like the interface. The great thing about news aggregators is that you pick your general interests and it sweeps articles from the wider internet into what it thinks you may enjoy. What this allows is differing sources of news which can share greater and/or different knowledge and ideas. When you have a primary news source you tend to see the world through that lens – and it is a big, crazy world out there. It’s not a bad idea to read other people and thoughts. Hell, why we read blogs, no?

Through the aggregator I found this great snippet from Forbes – a blog post of their own on a Wall Street Journal article – both of which are discussing the decision of Robert Morris, a small liberal arts University in Chicago, to give scholarships to a school funded League of Legends team.

Gamer’s dream, right?

That’s right, how does $6000 sound to help out your education – doing something you are probably already doing in between classes anyway? Not too shabby! The Forbes article goes on to not-so-subtly make fun of the idea (or seething sarcasm – hard to tell!) with this snippet:

However, if these low cost nerdy sports were to replace the expensive sports, we could see some real cost cutting happening.
If any schools are looking for the next great sport to pique student interest, might we suggest beer pong? College students are drinking beer anyway. Let’s stop the alcohol inquisition on campuses and capitalize on the inevitable.  Why not formalize it into a sport, and have major beer distributors like Anheuser Busch or the Miller Brewing Company sponsor the final four hops challenge?  If we designate drivers to and from the competitions and have teams of 21 year olds and above what’s the worst that could happen? Students are already financing their bar tabs with student loans, we might as well rile up some school spirit in the process.

The truth of the matter is that big, NCAA sports is in real trouble and gaming scholarships are more on point with the future in so many ways. The big sports take advantage of student athletes for the benefit of the institution and OTHER student athletes. A lot of fringe / less popular sports and scholarships are funded through the big Basketball and Football programs. However, this gaming idea has some legs and let’s look at some of the differences and benefits compared to the big athletic programs, shall we?

Imagine you are smart and like video games and you could get a scholarship for being good at raiding WoW or EQ for example. Wouldn’t that be just as fair or just as awesome in a higher education setting? Shouldn’t we be celebrating excellence in anything for education, not just who is the biggest and strongest physically? Gaming as E-sports is really getting legs and higher education should reflect that.

The future of the dumb jock just may happen to be a smart kid who ends up with a degree and changes the world with something more tangible than landing a 100 million dollar contract for being good at a sport, while being terrible at about everything else.

(full disclosure: I love sports. I play hockey. I play fantasy football. I watch baseball. I am not anti-sport in any way. I also just happen to love gaming and think it is a better investment in schools than the current athletic programs. I also know this is a huge topic and this is a short piece.)

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