How Broward College is taking on eSports
For far too long, American colleges have been behind the eight ball on one of the fastest growing sports in the world: eSports. eSports, where people compete in different video games, is a sport that has been exploding over the past few years. With just under 400 million eSports enthusiasts and occasional viewers in 2018 alone according to Statista it is growing at a rapid pace, both in viewership and players.
With eSports gaining such a large following in such a short time it is easy to understand why Carlos Parra, head of Broward College’s eSports program is so excited about the program.
As a life-long gamer, starting at 8-years-old on the original Nintendo, he says “It’s cool when things in your personal life bleed into your professional life.” But what he enjoys the most about this program is working with people who know and care about eSports, saying “What I enjoy most is working with awesome folks at Broward College such as Diana Hargis and Miguel Palacios who care about students and want to make this excel.”
The program plans on competing in the games most played by other higher education programs such as Madden 21, NBA 2k21, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros and Rocket League. The plan is to play on console They are looking into other games such as Fortnite.
According to Parra, the college decided to stay away from realistic first-person shooters such as Call of Duty.
“I do not have to put us in a position to have to explain ourselves and our potential lack of sensitivity. We live in a world with school shootings and veterans facing PTSD. I don’t want to get close to that.”
There is only one requirement to sign up for this program: you must be a Broward College student. It costs nothing to join.
A recruitment email was sent out on Aug. 27, so make sure you check your Broward College email if you want to sign up and compete.
There has been a great response to the recruitment email, with Parra saying that over 180 students replied within the first day of the email.
While the program will have eSports rosters and official tryouts, there will be ample opportunity for students to make the teams.
“Before each tournament students will have to essentially qualify for those slots. We want to make it fair for students and give them as many chances to compete as possible,” said Parra.
The program will have both tournaments against other schools and large-scale open tournaments for Broward College students only, allowing students to compete with and against each other for prizes and bragging rights.
The program is armed with PS4s, Xbox Ones, monitors and ethernet ports so when students come back on campus, they will be able to compete and practice on campus in large scale-events and tournaments.
While the program is not currently offering scholarships, Parra said that is not out of the question long term.
“We’re not at that point yet. It could be in the plans for the future, but for right now I would say this year is a learning year. We are learning something new every day.”
The program has institutional support within Broward College, which he says helps out considerably with the long-term prospects of eSports at Broward College.
“Broward College President Gregory Adam Haile is a fan of eSports and he is curious to see where we take this. We are in this for the long haul.”
For upcoming events, there is a planned Super Smash invitational where the Broward College esports team will compete against 12 other colleges on Sept. 18 and a Broward College exclusive Super Smash tournament on Sept. 25. The finals of the Super Smash Invitational on the 18th will be streamed on the twitch located the image above.
For more information about the program, you can go to this PDF.