NWC News Desk

Editorial: Esports Foster Same Values As Traditional Sports

Posted January 23, 2020
By Trapper Athletics

KEVIN KILLOUGH Tribune Sports Writer Courtesy of the Powell Tribune

After Northwest College Athletic Director Brian Erickson gave a presentation on a proposed esports program before the board of trustees in December, the public reaction was mixed.

The college administration voiced support for the program. The Northwest College Foundation had granted $10,000 to kick it off, and no one on the board expressed any opposition.

Predictably, some critics in the community laughed off what they see as the college trying to recruit students by letting them play video games. These critics are likely unfamiliar with today’s online gaming environment and see gaming as a lazy pastime for children who should be outside playing with their friends.

Video gaming has changed a lot since the days when games consisted mainly of getting Mario to hop from one platform to another in order to save the princess.

So much gaming today takes place online, and most games are designed in such a way that bigger objectives can’t be obtained without cooperation between other players.

In some games, networks of hundreds of players are required to accomplish team goals and solve problems, usually in competition with other teams. 

This means players who can’t get along with others and don’t understand the value of teamwork will be limited in what they can accomplish in a game. It creates an incentive to learn social skills and cooperation. These are the same qualities traditional sports foster in students.

Studies also show that gamers, on average, have higher IQs and perform better on cognitive tests than non-gamers. A 2018 study reviewed 111 studies concerning the cognitive effects of playing action video games. The review found gaming correlated with high scores on perception, spatial cognition, multitasking, and strategic thinking tests.

Of the studies reviewed, 22 of them were not correlative studies. Instead, they prescribed gaming to non-gamers and found 10 to 30 hours of gaming improved their cognitive performance.

There are also a few other studies that weren’t part of the review that found gaming improves creativity. Other studies have found positive correlations between gaming and social competence.

Besides having relevance to academic performance, an esports program is much cheaper to operate than a lot of traditional sports programs and easily complies with Title IX requirements for equal access for both male and female players.

Of course, traditional sports do entail far more physical exercise than esports, so esports athletes will need to hit the gym regularly on their own. Other than that, an esports program fosters all the values and benefits of any sport.

Far from being an ill-conceived or desperate plan to increase enrollment, the proposal for an esports program is forward-thinking, innovative, practical, and consistent with the goals of any competitive collegiate sports program.