Community College Adds Esports Program for Fall Semester

Esports is also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports, and it is a form of competition that uses video game consoles for organized, multiplayer video game competitions, individually or as teams.

by Jeff Edwards, The News Courier / May 15, 2020

(TNS) — Just a couple of years after threatening to shut down its entire athletics program, Calhoun Community College in Alabama is adding to it in the fall semester.

But it won't require any new fields to be built or uniforms to be purchased. All the players will need is a video game console and a screen.

Calhoun's athletics department is among the first in the state to announce the addition of Esports as a competitive gaming program beginning in the 2020 fall semester.

Esports also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports, is a form of sport competition using video game consoles. Esports takes the form of many competitions ranging from organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams.

This week, Calhoun’s maintenance team has been busy painting and wiring the gaming spaces. The new competition gaming room will consist of gaming chairs, monitors and headsets.

“Words cannot express how excited we are to introduce such a fun and innovative program to our students,” Calhoun Interim President Joe Burke said. “Gaming has become extremely popular across the world, and it continues to grow globally as this competitive sport attracts participants from diverse age groups and backgrounds.”

Organized competitions have been a part of the video gaming culture for many years and were held mostly between amateur gamers until the late 2000s. During that time, due to live streaming, professional gamers and spectators in those events witnessed a huge spike in popularity.

In September of 2019, The NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), the national governing body of two-year college athletics, partnered with the Chicago-based Legacy Esports and New York-based EsportsU to announce the creation of NJCAA Esports.

The association was created to provide two-year colleges with governance, competition and official national championships, while also providing guidance and positive development for two-year colleges to build and operate Esports programs at their respective colleges.

According to the Calhoun Esports coaches, competitions will begin this fall, and the team will compete as members of the NJCAA Esports Association. Currently, Overwatch, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are the games listed on the team’s gaming roster.

“At this time, we do not have set schedules, but we are looking to begin recruiting for our Esports team,” Calhoun Esports coach and multimedia audio/video technician Casey Knighten said. “We know gaming is extremely popular among our student base, so we hope to attract some of the best gamers in North Alabama to represent Calhoun while competing against other students from community/junior colleges across the nation.”

Esports teams typically range from 20 to 30 gamers. To be considered for the team, students must be full-time (12 hours), in good academic standing and meet the NJCAA eligibility requirements for athletes.

“As we continuously seek out creative opportunities to enhance the student experience here at Calhoun, we felt bringing something such as gaming would put us on the right track,” Vice President of Student Services Patricia Wilson said. “Gaming brings so much more than fun for our students, it is also an ingenious way to sharpen their soft skills such as being a team player, which is a vital workforce skill.”

Visit http://www.calhoun.edu/esports for more information about Calhoun's Esports program.

©2020 The News Courier (Athens, Ala.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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