NACE, the association of varsity esports, states that they have over 170 member schools and over 5,000 student-athletes. They have also facilitated $16 million in esports scholarships. Esports is growing at a rapid pace around the world, and colleges are taking advantage of this by investing heavily in their respective esports programs. Below are six data points to illustrate how esports as positively impacted higher education.
Esports Help Boost Enrollment
- Enrollment has increased for many universities and colleges that started esports programs, especially the smaller institutions. Experts agree that esports help to boost enrollment for smaller colleges and universities, and they also help in boosting minority numbers.
- Many colleges believe that esports has helped with attendance, and 41% of institutions say that it has helped with student recruitment.
- When Ashland University spoke about their esports program on a Good Morning America segment, they received 500 new applications.
- When a college participates in a sports tournament such as the NCAA, they usually get a payout for just participating. Winners get payouts in the millions.
- Esports tournaments are now dominated by NCAA Division II and Division III schools. Smaller institutions are now playing on an even playing field.
- This is why smaller schools that don’t have good basketball or football teams are investing heavily in esports. Currently, there are 186 collegiate esports programs across the United States.
Increasing Number of Prospective Students in Esports
- As of May 2020, 10% of 18-34-year-olds have shown a large interest in esports, while 23% in that age range casually keep up with it. Also, most video game players in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34. This is the age range of most college attendees in the United States.
- This is one of the reasons scholarships to high school gamers have increased. $16 million in college scholarships have been offered to high school gaming recruits in the 2018-2019 school year.
- Some schools that have increased their scholarship offerings toward student gamers are Ashland University, Illinois College, Juaniata College, Schreiner University, and Texas Wesleyan University.
Improvements in Academia
- Research has shown that esports programs help students in a variety of ways, such as improving hand-eye coordination, improving visual-spatial reasoning, increasing graduation rates, increasing acceptance into other academic programs due to extracurricular activities, and scholarship and travel opportunities.
- Many student gamers are interested in computer science and other STEM fields.
- Esports is also helping universities expand their degree and program offerings, potentially opening up new revenue streams. A few schools that currently offer esports degrees are Becker College, Caldwell University, St. John’s University, Ohio State University, and Shenandoah University.
- Offering these degrees also has a secondary effect of improving their esports competitiveness, which in turn brings students and revenue to the school.
Potentially Large Revenue in a Growing Industry
- It’s estimated that by 2022, esports will bring in $3 billion in revenue.
- Tespa, a collegiate league for titles such as Overwatch and StarCraft, has around 850 schools and has awarded students more than $3 million in prizes.
Dramatically Decreased Costs
- The economic cost for medical attention due to contact and non-contact college sports ranges from $446 million to $1.5 billion per year. These medical situations include serious injuries like concussions and broken limbs.
- However, the medical cost for college esports players is dramatically less because the most common injuries are eye fatigue, back and neck pain, and wrist and hand injuries.
- It is much cheaper for colleges to enter esports. The average cost to start a college esports program is $32,000. For comparison, Wichita State University found out they had to spend $75 million to start their FBS football program from scratch.