Pac-Man’s offspring are going to devour sports as we know them – Orlando Sentinel
Go back and circle last Wednesday on your calendar. The sports world officially began changing into something most of us can barely comprehend.
The University of Utah announced it will begin offering scholarships for … are you sitting down? … video gaming.
On the scale of productive activities, playing video games used to rank somewhere between watching “The Jerry Springer Show” and smoking pot. Now it’s a way to get a college scholarship?
Not only will students get a free ride, they’ll compete against other colleges on a national level in front of multitudes of adoring fans. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that sounded like football.
Someday eSports might be bigger than football. If that sounds preposterous, you haven’t been paying attention to e — for electronic — Sports.
Until the Utah news, my knowledge of eSports consisted of yelling at my kids to stop playing Minecraft and go outside and play. A little research showed that every human being born after 1995 spends 23 hours a day staring into a smartphone or tablet, and 17 of those hours are spent playing video games.
They’ve formed teams and leagues and battle for championships in sold-out arenas. They’re not into traditional sports, so traditional sports are trying to get into them.
European soccer teams have signed e-players to compete in soccer video leagues. Last week, New York City FC just signed a guy to compete in international e-soccer tournaments.
Utah is the first Power Five conference member to field a team. It will play in the collegiate division of Riot Games, which is a big-deal tournament.
The actual game is League of Legends, which I can’t even begin to explain other than to say it looks nothing like Pac-Man. I can tell you this is all quickly evolving into a multibillion dollar business, so it won’t be long until every university follows Utah’s lead.
On the plus side, you don’t have to run a 4.3 40 and bench-press 600 pounds to be an e-stud. That means the dorks that jocks used to beat up will be marrying Gisele Bundchen’s offspring.
It’s also unlikely anyone will suffer career-threatening concussions playing League of Legends.
On the down side, how long until Ole Miss starts buying five-star e-recruits, or an Alabama fan poisons some trees because Auburn won the e-Iron Bowl, or Russia’s entire team is thrown out of the e-Olympics due to e-doping?
If you think I’m overblowing this future shock, imagine if I’d told you 150 years ago that Americans would become addicted to watching 22 guys bang into each other over an inflated piece of pigskin.
Now, please excuse me. I have to go yell at my kids to come in and play video games.
Stud of the Week: Madison Bumgarner
He became the first pitcher to hit two homers on Opening Day, which is only three fewer than the Braves will hit all season.
Runner-up: Tim Tebow for tying the great Oscar Robertson’s record of 41 triple-doubles in an NBA season.
Dud of the Week: Dustin Johnson’s socks
He says they caused him to slip on the stairs, hurt his back and miss the Masters. The good news was his fiancee, Paulina, escaped unscathed.
Photo of Week
Florida coach Jim McElwain tweeted a shot of him holding a custom-made Lil’ Wayne UF jersey to welcome the rapper to Gainesville before his concert.
Nothing says hip-hop like a slow-footed, 55-year-old white guy wearing khakis and a button-down shirt. Maybe he was welcoming Lil’ Wayne Peace back to campus.
Mmm, Mmm … Good
The Seattle Mariners are selling chapulines this season at Safeco Field. In case you’re not up on Spanish, that’s a Mexican specialty.
The English word is “grasshoppers.”
Yes, toasted grasshoppers tossed in chili lime salt.
I love Mexican food, but I think I prefer to get my bugs the old-fashioned way and just have them fly into my mouth at a ball game.
- Orlando City tried to sign an e-player last week, but he pulled a hamstring working his joystick.
- Correction: Russell Westbrook tied the NBA record for triple-doubles last week. But he did not hit a home run in his first minor-league at-bat.
- McElwain has announced that he will wear an orange-and-blue skull cap and a gold necklace with an oversized diamond-studded Albert the Alligator on the sidelines this fall.