Scholarships cover football, basketball and now — video games. E-Sports, or electronic sports, are helping new age athletes pay for college.
Twenty year old college sophomore Joshua Morgan grew up playing Call of Duty.
“Dad hated it, mom was always a little softer,” Morgan said.
Along with playing on the couch, Morgan also played on the field. After an injury left him permanently sidelined from football, it was anything but game over for this athlete.
“That’s when I got into competitive Leagues of Legends,” Morgan said.
League of Legends is a video game that Morgan is able to now cash in on. He receives a scholarship from Florida Southern College in Lakeland to play on one of their four varsity e-sports teams.
“When you say you play e-sports, there’s always the moment of silence,” Morgan said.
And after that silence — Morgan says he breaks down why it’s considered a sport.
“Instead of using brawn, you’re using your mind,” Morgan said. “You’re having to think ahead of someone else. You’re having to sit and practice to get the muscle memory down.”
And contrary to what some might think, it’s a team sport. Freshman William James joined Morgan, and they are just two of 17 students on Florida Southern’s roster.
Practices consist of watching prior matches for mistakes, scrimmaging other schools
and receiving coaching from remote experts. In North America, there are around 125 schools with programs.
MORE: List of e-sports programs spans North America
In Florida, there are at least three schools with varsity esports programs: Florida Southern College in Lakeland, St. Thomas University in Miami and Full Sail University in Winter Park.
WINK News is told to expect more to jump on board because of the interest and relatively low cost to run. When it comes to paying tuition, there’s even a bonus round. Not only can athletes can get money from the school, but from the game’s publisher if they place in the finals.
For example, if a team places first in college League of Legends, it’s $8,000 in scholarship per player.
Head coach Nate Carson, 23, helped start the team.
“We have been scouting for players over the past year,” Carson said,
Finding players shouldn’t be hard. Over 100 million people play League of Legends alone, every month.
E-sports doesn’t stop at the college level.
An estimated $900 million was pulled in at the professional level last year.
While Morgan and James don’t plan to play professionally, they’ve won their battle.
Being able to tell mom and dad that playing video games pays off.
“He’s very happy because he doesn’t have to pay as much,” Morgan said.