PARMA, Ohio — Bryant & Stratton College is kicking off its Bobcats esports team in Parma this month.
The Ohio campus received official status as a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, making it the seventh sport in the Bryant &Stratton College Bobcats Athletic program.
The popularity of esports has exploded in recent years, with more and more colleges making room for esports in their athletic departments.
“It’s about capturing an audience, capturing the student base there and making them excited about esports, because there’s a lot to be excited about,” said esports coach Carson Clarke.
Clarke is a former top-500 player in North America in Overwatch and brings extensive coaching experience to his new role with the Bobcats. He was tapped to lead the program in its inaugural year.
“It’s really about getting those people that are interested in tech things or aren’t super interested in traditional athletics, an opportunity that they’re still competitive and they can still compete. Just through a different avenue,” Clarke said.
Over the past few years, esports has become widely recognized for its status as a legitimate and highly skilled collegiate and professional sport.
“This is an entire industry,” Clarke said. “You need people who are into production, people who are into entertainment. You need competitors and managers.”
Like traditional sports, Clarke’s goal is to create an atmosphere at Bryant & Stratton where students will be able to carve out careers in the esports industry.
“The one big issue when it comes to esports right now is that there is no direct pipeline, there isn’t a lot of actual training, not a lot of courses. It’s very messy and very amateur,” Clarke said. “ I want us to be able to provide the skills needed for students that want to make esports their career.”
Clarke is currently putting the finishing touches on a new, state-of-the-art esports lab at the Parma campus that will have 20 setups tailor-made for gaming.
“This is hitting a different demographic than what you traditionally see when it comes to athletic scholarships,” Clarke said.
While it may seem like fun and games, the Esports industry is projected to be an industry worth $1.8 billion in revenue by 2022 according to estimates from NewZoo, a games market insights and analytics website.
“It’s already breaking numbers past certain traditional sports when it comes to things like viewership,” Clarke said. “I believe that upward trend is going to continue.”
Bryant & Stratton College has launched three collegiate esports programs over the last three years at its campuses in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Buffalo.
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