BOISE, ID - Athletes at Boise State University go through tip-top physical conditioning to be the best at their sport, but for one Bronco program, games aren't decided by the most time in the weight room or on the field, but rather, behind the computer screen. We got a chance to go virtual with BSU's Esports team.
When I (Matt Sizemore) was in college, I played a ton of video games to the dismay of my parents and professors. Today, Boise State University students are doing the same thing, only now, it's being encouraged.
"It's part of their daily routine and to be able to take that to the next level in a competitive arena, a lot of people are really interested in doing that. In testing their skills, in testing their metal in their video game, just like they would in any other activity," said BSU's Department Head of Educational Technology Brett Shelton.
If you haven't heard of Esports, then welcome to the future. It's competitive video gaming featuring teams battling for supremacy, just like an other sport. Boise State has had a team now for over a year.
"It didn't grow out of athletics, and it didn't grow out of anything like debate club, it's not like spirit squad or band or any of those types of activities. It's actually something new and different," said Shelton.
Students on the Bronco's Esports team might not get scholarships yet or any of the major perks that maybe the football or basketball team may get, but that doesn't change the mentality it takes to put together a winning program.
"When we practice, we'll come in and review our last match. We'll look at the things we did right and did wrong. We'll set up skills sections where we have different players in different roles and let them practice those particular skills during that practice. We'll review film on our upcoming opponents, we'll review statistics, what their tendencies are, what they do," said Shelton.
As fun as it sounds, the BSU Esports team wasn't created just to have students play video games, as amazing as that sounds. It sets them up with career options.
"We have a of people that are interested in broadcasting, we have a lot of interest in the coaching aspect of esports, and those are areas that we're gonna see a big need in, especially at the high school level, and then there's streaming. So the streaming component is heavily technology based. You have to have network knowledge, some graphics understanding, you have to understand how to mix things, you have to understand what it means to do a live broadcast," said Shelton.
But before these student competitors dive into their careers, they have a title to bring home to the City of Trees, and Shelton says Boise State's president threw down a huge challenge.
"Esports is the next thing that we want Boise State to be the best at, and so we're trying to live up to that gauntlet that he threw down and said, you know, we're gonna be the best, we're gonna play on blue carpet wherever we're playing in Esports, and we're gonna be number one," said Shelton.
If you'd like to follow BSU's Esports team and have an Amazon Prime account, download the Twitch Prime app and follow the Boise State Varsity Esports team for free.