Olivet College Interested in Esports Integration
Various colleges in Michigan have begun to integrate esports into their athletic programs, and Olivet College has taken interest as well. With new gaming releases focusing more on the competitive side of their player bases, it’s not hard to see why many colleges have begun to take interest in representing their institutions in a unique way.
“Adding esports has been a topic of discussion for a while now,” said Haley Diringer, athletic director at Olivet College. “We are always working to see how we can best represent Olivet in the realm of athletics.”
According to MIAA Commissioner Penny Allen-Cook, Trine University’s incorporation of esports into their athletic program in 2017 is what started the trend of other MIAA colleges doing the same. The only hurdle in officially having esports in the MIAA is having them getting sponsored by the NCAA. “It is sponsored independently by a few of our institutions,” said Allen- Cook. “We can only sponsor sports as a conference that are sanctioned by the NCAA. With that being said, until the NCAA decides to sponsor esports, which is not likely, that’s not something we will jump into.”
Despite the NCAA not sponsoring college esports yet, streaming websites such as Twitch.tv have become almost entirely dedicated to people streaming and playing not only competitive fighting games such as entries in the Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat series, but especially modern shooter games such as Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite. Streamers who play these sorts of games can get thousands of live viewers, according to Twitch.tv analytics.
“We’re not afraid to take on new sports,” said Professor Arthur Williams, faculty athletic representative at Olivet College. “Quite frankly, I think it’s a sort of thing that if we get involved, we don’t have to have a giant arena to do that. It could be a wonderful opportunity for smaller institutions to get their foot in the door and to get some recognition.”