Northwest College is considering starting an esports program.

We hope the trustees scrap that idea.

Online video gaming, or esports, in the past had been something children and adults played to pass the time.

Now video games generate large amounts of money through professional leagues and corporate sponsorships.

We are keenly aware that NWC, not unlike almost every college and university, is struggling with decreased enrollment and declining revenues.

We just can’t see how an esports program would gain the school much.

Under current conditions of declining enrollment, we recognize colleges are scrambling for students and money.

The schools least impacted are the ones offering students a path to a future career and that is what we believe NWC should concentrate on.

Colleges cannot offer something for everyone.

But we believe NWC should discover its own niche in the collegiate world and enhance its offerings in that field.

For example: the Wyoming State Legislature recently adopted state level standards for teaching computer science. Wyoming high schools are struggling to find staffing to meet those standards.

In our opinion, a junior college preparing students to compete for a four-year degree from another institution in the computer science field would be a far greater benefit than the opportunity for students to compete in video games.

Extracurricular activities are a fundamental part of a balanced education, but only a part.

Academic disciplines will always be the backbone of a good education.

John Malmberg

(1) comment

JTA

I'm a bit biased maybe since I grew up taking games way too seriously, but I wish I had a program similar to one being talked about when I was in high school. I played a couple sports in high school, and while I will say I enjoyed them and don't particularly regret my time playing them, I have several physical problems that can be traced back to my time as an athlete (I was mediocre at best in all the sports I played if I'm being honest). Comparatively, I also played for a clan that held regular scrimmages and competitive battles in our particular game (something that I eventually became quite good at, for my particular game). I have a lot of amazing memories playing games, and have made a lot of friends that way. Video games are extremely competitive, and as you mentioned are a source of revenue, and lately even as a source of scholarship opportunity for young people that might not otherwise have the economic means to succeed in traditional capacities. Personally, I don't see much difference between an e-sports team, the basketball team, speech and debate, or chess club. I think each serves the purpose of keeping competition lively, preparing young people for disappointment and success, and as they grow older, how to interact professionally with other people. Granted, most e-sports players aren't going to get millions of dollars like a professional traditional athlete (although some certainly do), but in concept I think the two are more similar than a lot of people would like to admit, especially when the odds of achieving "greatness" are about the same. Also, I don't think that video games and programming are that far removed; interest in programming and other CS jobs can stem from a love of games.

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