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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Little League of Legends

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Little League of Legends Little League of Legends

Can Gaming Co-Exist With Sports?

As an expectant father (or more accurately, husband of an expectant wife), I have a lot of tangents that I tend to go on when talking about my child's future. There's a reasonable amount of speculation when it comes to my offspring: Are they going to be a nerd or jock? Bookworm or computer geek? Ginger or non-ginger? (My wife and I are both redheads; poor kid doesn't have a chance.) 

I was discussing some of these possibilities with my sister when I broached the idea of how gaming would be viewed by the next generation. Where the NES generation is getting older, gaming is becoming more ubiquitous while the stigma attached to it lessens by the year. No longer the basement-bound hobby that it once was, gaming has achieved an incredible amount of mainstream success and coverage. However, the thing that intrigues me the most is how some games are becoming a spectator sport in and of their own right. 'League of Legends' has had upwards of 32 million concurrent viewers watching top teams vie for the Summoner's Cup. 

Did I mention that this was broadcast from a sold-out Staples Center, home of a little basketball team you might have heard of, the Los Angeles Lakers?

Grassroots competition has started to breed professional leagues over the past couple of decades, and it's all starting to come front and center. With enough heart and dedication, players can harness their passion into legitimate careers much like baseball and football players.

Today I read a news piece about how Blizzard (the nice chaps behind classics 'Starcraft,' 'Diablo' and 'World of Warcraft') are starting an initiative to bolster collegiate e-sports. Granted, you shouldn't expect the NCAA to immediately take to having 'Call of Duty' teams, but it's a step towards true acceptance of gaming as a competitive alternative, dare I say, contemporary, to traditional sports.

In the face of such growth, acceptance and genuine competitive spirit, I honestly have to wonder if my child will have the opportunity to play the video game equivalent of Little League.  Maybe they'll have to choose between an FPS scholarship to Kentucky or staying closer to home with a full-ride RTS scholarship to UMass. Getting drafted by professional teams in the MLG suddenly becomes an actual possibility.
Now, look, I know this is all speculation and slightly ridiculous, but so were multi-million dollar contracts just a couple decades ago. As gaming grows, is it really so unbelievable to think about non-traditional athletes finding their home on the high school fighting game team? We could teach the same values of classy competition, teamwork and diversity through gaming, so why not give it a fighting chance?

Maybe I'm just being silly, but a gamer's gotta wonder.

Aaron Waite has a terrible habit of entering FPS tournaments and winning most of them.


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