Karle's Korner: Your kid still looking for a college scholarship? Here's the good news
By Rick Karle| April 28, 2015 at 5:06 PM CDT - Updated July 2 at 12:20 PM
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle.
Just when you thought you've reached the end of your rope. Just when you have run out of answers as your child continues to spend too many hours playing video games. Your kid could soon be taking those talented thumbs to a major university after signing an eSports scholarship!
Look, as a man who grew up playing Pac-Man and Pong, I'm not an expert on League Of Legends or Dota2. But if your kid is a serious gamer, you could be in store for a serious break on college tuition.
Don't think video gaming is a serious business? Professional leagues worldwide see as many as 71 million watch televised events each year, and with pros like "Faker" Lee, "Benghi" Bae and "Space" Seon leading the world power rankings, why wouldn't you watch too?
This past Sunday, ESPN2 televised a "Heroes of the Dorm" collegiate competition. I of course was relieved to see the kids from Cal-Berkley beat those from Arizona State. Even NBA great Bill Walton took notice as he tweeted, "I am so proud... go Pac12."
And there's more to come as this August, the world's best gamers will be vying for up to $10 million in prize money playing Dota2.
A warning however to you, the parent: Your child must be in great mental and physical shape to perform. It's tough out there, as evidenced by gaming legend Hai Lam announcing that due to a wrist injury, he is being forced to retire -- at the age of 22.
"My wrist injury is something I cannot ignore. I cannot keep up with the amount of Solo Queue games my teammates play and it's not fair to them," Lam said.
If only I knew, I could have referred him to Dr. James Andrews.
Now the good news: Robert Morris University of Illinois is one of a handful of colleges offering eSports scholarships. Youngbin Chung of San Francisco has signed on with the university, where he has received 50 percent off tuition and 50 percent off room and board.
A self-proclaimed video game addict, Chung says spending 10 hours a day playing video games in high school has paid of handsomely (what parent doesn't want to see their kid play video games for ten hours a day?).
The Robert Morris team hopes to advance to the League Of Legends Collegiate Championship, where team members could haul in thousands of dollars in scholarship money.
How much will competitive eSports go? What if the Alabama High School Athletic Association adopts the sport? Will it be a fall sport or a spring sport? Will football teams suffer dwindling roster sizes because young men would rather include thumb exercises rather then weight lifting in their training regimens? Would I have to cover the Hoover-Mountain Book "Call Of Duty" tournament?
What if the sport explodes and we find ourselves doing the Fox6 eSport Signing Day Special? Will these gamers receive star rankings from 247 Sports and Scout? Will I have to bring eSports recruiting expert Tim Watts on FOX6 to break down strengths and weaknesses? I can hear it now: "Rick, this kid from Cullman is a 4-star who is considering Alabama, Auburn, MIT and Harvard. He's 5' 1", 127 pounds but cool under pressure. He may wind up taking a redshirt."
And what if new SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey adds eSports to his conference schedule? I'm telling you the annual eSports media day at the Wynfrey Hotel is going to be interesting. I'm just telling you before it happens that the SEC western division is gonna be strong (although the eastern division does have Vanderbilt).
Who knows? Some day we could see an eSports Final Four like we do in football. I'm telling you if Auburn advances that far, Tiger Walk is going to be something.
In all seriousness: My son is a high school junior and now perusing colleges. While he's a fine athlete, it's doubtful he's going to land a college scholarship in his chosen sports of soccer and basketball.
But I'm here to tell you that if a major university came to him and offered him an eSports scholarship? I'd be the first person to pack up his Xbox and buy an insurance policy on his wrists.
I'd also expect Justin Hokanson, Tim Watts, and every local TV station in the market to attend Noah's news conference. And guys? Don't bother my son until then, as he plans on waiting until signing day to announce.