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Athletic Scholarships For Playing Video Games? We Have Gone Too Far!

Athletic Scholarships For Playing Video Games? We Have Gone Too Far!

"Athletic scholarships for video gaming is just wrong"

SILVER SPRING, MD – October 7, 2014 – As this country struggles with its ‘Inactivity Pandemic,’ which is having a direct impact on its obesity crisis, it’s shocking to see a college provide a financial incentive to students for them to remain inactive.

This past summer, Robert Morris University (Chicago, IL) announced the addition of an online sport to its athletic program.  And, the university is giving athletic scholarships, beginning this fall, to students for video gaming.

Commonly referred to as eSports, the activity consists of organized video game competitions.  Specifically, RMU students will compete in League of Legends, one of the largest and most popular eSport games.  In a prepared statement, Robert Morris University noted that it recognized the value and legitimacy of eSports and was excited to add eSports to its already rich athletic program. 

Robert Morris University is among the first in the nation to offer substantial video gaming scholarships.  Qualified gamers can earn scholarships of up to 50% for tuition and 50% for room and board.

"The dangers to our society by promoting eSports as a legitimate ‘athletic’ endeavor with college scholarships are immense,” Andrew Doan, MD, PhD, addictions & resilience researcher. “Without addressing the mental and physical problems of excessive video game play, there will be increasing numbers of addicted video gamers requiring treatment as families enable video game addicts working towards these eSports scholarships. For every one eSport scholarship winner, there will be hundreds of thousands of addicted gamers exhibiting dysfunction in multiple areas of their lives who will possess few useful skills for real life."

“It's not appropriate to give student-athlete billing to a video gamer,” says Dr. Michael V. Carter, president, Campbellsville University (Campbellsville, KY).  “Today's collegiate student-athletes are challenged to excel in both the classroom and in the athletic 'arena' whether it's in the gym, in a stadium, on a field, or around a track.  Video gamers are not student-athletes and to classify them as such is disrespectful to the world of sports.  It also sends the wrong message to future college students about what it takes to compete in sports."

“It’s one thing to make video gaming opportunities available, but it’s unacceptable to classify video gaming as a full-fledged athletic activity,” says Jim Baugh, founder of PHIT America.  “It’s disrespectful to the millions of student athletes who wrestle, swim, ride bikes, play team sports, or run.  Those students are real athletes.  You don’t sweat on the Internet. Athletic scholarships for video gaming is just wrong.”

"Currently there are no plans to adopt video gaming as a sport within the high school setting says Mark Koski, director of sports, events, and development with the National Federation of State High School Associations (Indianapolis, IN).  "The high school sports experience is a prelude to being active later in life. We do not feel that video gaming falls in this category."

“The landscape for physical activity is not good since 80 million Americans are currently inactive, only six states require P.E. in every grade, and just 42% of 6-11 year olds and just 8% of 12-15 year olds in the U.S. meet the minimum criteria for activity, according to the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance,” states Baugh.  “As a country, we need to start getting our children  and students at institutions like Robert Morris to be active and not providing financial incentives for them to remain inactive.”

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