SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — “The amount of viewers it already has is almost trumping the super bowl,” Teddy Delaney, the esports program administrator at Lackawanna College, said.
Delaney isn’t talking about football, or basketball. He’s talking about esports. Lackawanna College, who boasts being the home of the first esports program in northeast Pennsylvania, held an esports community presentation Monday. Representatives from other schools in the area and ones from Western Michigan University – which attended via video chat, learned how to start or expand their own esports teams.
“We’re always looking for more information about how to get this all figured out, especially from an I.T. perspective and side of things. So we really thought it would be a great opportunity for us to kind of learn and see how other colleges are doing their esports programs,” Ryan Plummer, coordinator for esports at Montogmery Community College said.
Video games may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sports, but Delaney says he treats his team of gamers just the same as any other traditional sports team, with the same expectations.
“It is a varsity sport. So we have academic requirements just like every other traditional sport here at Lackawanna College. They must maintain a certain GPA, they must attend all their classes. They must attend four hours, four plus hours of study hall per week,” Delaney said.
So just what is esports? Delaney says any game you can play against someone else can be considered an official esports title. The most popular games are Fortnite, Call of Duty, League of Legends and Overwatch.
Many colleges and universities already have esports teams, but Delaney says the esports realm is only going to get bigger.
“I’m really close with the gentleman that runs the esports program at Boise State, Dr. Chris Haskell, one of my mentors. And he said in one of our interviews that we did with him that at one point you will see a singularity moment where the number of varsity collegiate esports programs will trump the number of varsity collegiate football programs,” Delaney said.
In 2020 , there will be an Olympics sanctioned tournament for esports. Delaney says the games have many other real world applications, like training for the military.
“Like in traditional sports, we are teaching them teamwork, strategy and critical thinking. These games are insanely intricate and there’s a lot of things you need to read into and know to be successful and rank up in these games,” Delaney said.