November 15, 2016
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Cyndi Lauper once sang, “Girls just want to have fun.”
Well, no one likes to have fun more than members of the new Cathedral Catholic High School Virtual Sports Club.
“[Video game tournaments] are a great way to get together and have fun playing a video game that we all love,” said Kyle Schuster ‘17, who hosted a recent video game tournament at CCHS where students battled each other in Hearthstone, an animated, collector card game.
Esports, a way to compete by playing video games, is a growing subculture in the world, with more people watching last year’s League of Legends Grand Final than last year’s Super Bowl. According to Repucom, an esports market researcher, esports earned $194 million last year in revenue.
As esport culture emerges in today’s world, esports culture also is sprouting on the CCHS campus.
The CCHS Virtual Sports Club boasts more than 25 members who compete on different consoles playing popular video sports games, including FIFA, NBA2K, and Madden NFL.
“We had more than 100 sign ups at club week, and a little over a quarter of those people came to our first meeting,” said Ryan Shamoon ’18, the leader of virtual sports club. “I believe esports bring people together and allow bonding to happen through gaming.”
There is even opportunities for prize money.
At Schuster’s recent Hearthstone tournament, where gamers dueled each other for two weeks with their own creative card decks, the winners split a $55 purse.
As with any new and rising subculture, there are stigmas associated with said culture.
In this case, video gaming and esports culture have faced criticism, including people characterizing video game playing as not being a real sport and the players competing not being real athletes.
Although not physically as exerting as traditional sports, competitive video gaming meets the criteria of a sport because gamers practice, create strategy, and use teamwork, all of which puts a toll on competitors’ bodies, Shamoon said.
“Everything is a sport in its own way,” Shamoon said. “Some people say cheer and dance aren’t sports. Just because people don’t understand video gaming and esports doesn’t mean they have to judge it.”