Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

League of Legends to Become A Legendary College Sport?

Cam Peters • The Spectator

A wave of change concerning what it means to be a college athlete is sweeping through universities across the country. Trading in a field for a digital screen, students have made video and computer games some of their go-to hobbies and can now transform their interest in gaming into a college level sport. League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena where two teams with five champions on each side go to compete might become an official college sport at multiple universities, which means a greater diversity of students can call themselves college athletes.

Cam Peters • The Spectator
Cam Peters • The Spectator

Nick Redlew plays a game of League.

Originally piloted in 2009, League of Legends (LoL) has made great strides within the world of gaming over the past seven years. LoL’s fast growing popularity can be attributed to its extremely low cost, given that payment to download the game and start playing is not required. Once the application is ready to play, the gamer picks a champion and is put on a team of no more than five, if the opposing team also possesses the same number of players. Players of League are able to choose their team members based off the similar skill level they may play, ensuring that there is a tier system within the game. The tier system starts with bronze, and moves to silver, gold, platinum and diamond, ending with master and challenger as the ultimate skill level. The master and challenger tier holds some of League’s most advanced players and is the current highest skill level that a player can achieve.

Christopher Riley, a sophomore chemistry and physics major, views being able to build and compete in a team where players are strangers to one another as an opportunity to gain new friends.
“ People get together in communities such as this and they get together to be able to discuss tactics to get more familiar with each other,” Riley said. “Spending this time together, you start to develop this friendship. It’s like people who bond over theater makeup, it’s like the same thing but with League. It’s a great way to make friends.”

This growing community is not only connecting people at home, but has become ingrained in university life as well. In an online article published in Forbes, it was explained that a second college within the U.S. was now offering scholarships for those who played League, recognizing the game as a varsity level sport.

The support for League of Legends to become a collegiate sport is growing as a trend within the e-sport community. Students who participate in LoL college level leagues would be treated as student athletes, meaning that there will be practice time and other benefits that are similarly offered to those participating in already recognized sports.

This trend, though rising, is something that isn’t found at every university.

Joseph Delos Reyes, a junior humanities for leadership major, is a League player who has taken interest in creating a team, but hasn’t had the support. Being a gold tier player, Delos Reyes explains that it can be difficult to create a team because of intimidation and lack of encouragement within the community to make League of Legends a collegiate sport at Seattle U.

“I think that it’s a really good opportunity especially for students who don’t really feel comfortable in a stereotypical sport setting… but also, I think that the high skill cap for League of Legends is really intimidating and it’s something that deters people from wanting to join the team,” Delos Reyes said. “It’s a lot of stuff that here at Seattle U is uncharted territory, so I would need a lot of support in making a team.”

Though League is not deemed an athletic sport at Seattle U, the support in making it so is very strong within the gaming community. Trevor Kaaihue, a sophomore computer science major, supports the idea of League being categorized within the athletic department despite not fitting in the criteria of what is a collegiate sport.

“It’s an interesting concept and I think it would be cool for schools to fund it. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it being collegiate level, because it’s a very narrow path and it doesn’t encourage the same things that normal sports try to encourage like teamwork and independence and leadership, but it also is a very different form of doing that,” Kaaihue said. “I’m not totally sure, but I’m for it.”

League of Legends is changing the world of college sports. It is a growing community that is not only redefining what it means to be an athlete, but also expanding the opportunities for students who choose to pick up a game controller rather than a soccer ball. From the computer screen to the playing field, the definition of the word athlete is changing.

Shelby may be reached at [email protected]

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