Esports Rising 2021: Collegiate esports space presents unique opportunities – The Esports Observer

As collegiate esports continue to grow, the need to develop career paths in the space takes on greater significance. CSL Esports CEO Rob Johnson, speaking during the Esports Rising virtual event on Tuesday, said, “What we want to help with the schools is, you’re not just looking to be pro on a team, but hospitality and learning your discipline in hospitality, networking, IT, or broadcast production has changed so much in the lens of esports, to be able to give the schools the tools and the students the tools in order to do that.”

Learfield IMG College Chief Content, Development & Strategy Officer Rob Schneider, noting how few athletes turn pro in any sport, said, “The esports industry as a whole, though, is much larger than the folks that are playing professionally. And so, there’s so many other opportunities to foster that path from participation in college esports to a professional role. And we’ve established similar pipelines on the traditional sports side, bringing student-athletes into the business of sports. And we’re doing the same on the esports side as well.”

EVERYONE IS WELCOME: Both Schneider and Johnson said that their organizations are taking steps to ensure access and gender are not hurdles. Schneider: “One of the best things about esports, generally in college esports, is that it largely is a level playing field. It’s open to almost everyone. Certainly, a larger swath of the population can participate in esports than some of the traditional sports, as well as the fact that it’s a level playing field between genders.”

Still, both see much room for improvement for getting women involved in esports and are working on ways to make that happen. Johnson said this push “feels long overdue but (is) working with a lot of people to make sure we get this right, and we get something that can be more inclusive overall.”

 Quick Hits:

  • Schneider, on other challenges facing collegiate esports: “The structure — in terms of how it’s organized, how it’s governed — some very real things need to evolve there, as well as scale. I mean, just creating something of scale around the competition and around content to create opportunities for students to compete and for fans to engage with, it is necessary as well.”
  • Johnson, on building infrastructure: “We’re essentially playing a sport with a ball that somebody else owns. There’s different complications of how to do this and how to do this in a way that these publishers spent hundreds of billions of dollars at some points developing this IP.”

 

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