Boise State esports leading the way for diversity and inclusion within the sport

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 12:37:08-04

BOISE — College Esports teams are male-dominated.

In a recent AP study, 90 percent of college Esports players are male and almost 90 percent of Esports scholarships go to males.

But Boise State Esports is leading the way in diversity and inclusion within their program, which is getting them nationally recognized.

“It’s really important for you to be able to look inside a team or an environment and see qualities that are important to you," Chris "Doc" Haskell, Boise State's Esports coach said. "To see people that represent you. And we focus on that."

Something that is drawing more players to their program.

"We make sure our teams look like Boise State. That they are diverse like Boise State and that has helped to attract players that might not have been interested in us because they see themselves,” Haskell said.

When recruiting future Broncos, he said that he looks for gamers that can perform, but also ones that are good teammates and will add to the depth of his roster.

“We are way better as a family, and as a team when we have lots of different experiences and lots of different viewpoints," Haskell said. "You need to be able to look across a team and see people that are like you but also people that are very different than you. It makes us much healthier.”

The Broncos currently have 16 males, five females, and three players that identify as non-binary.

They also have a female coach, Maggie Borland, who made history for being the first female varsity Esports captain.

“She used to play for us, and now she coaches and has helped us understand that it is not the gender of the person that needs to be the most important it is the qualities in the person," Haskell said. "People seeing Maggie in a position of leadership made them feel comfortable that Boise state was also a place that they would be comfortable."

The team and league also focus on a culture that is inclusive and respectful something that Haskell said is not always the case when you play on the internet.

“They have reported to us quite a bit and to their teammates that sometimes the criticism or the environment of open and ranked games is not the same as what they feel inside," Haskell said. "We work really hard to make sure there is no sexual profanity used, and certain language is not allowed.”

The Boise State Esports team puts hours into their craft just like any other sport.

With how hard the players have to work, Haskell makes sure no matter who is on the team that they have a comfortable and welcoming culture.

A family is how he describes it.

The team also gets to showcase their skills nationwide against some of the top Esports teams in the country.

A year and a half ago the team traveled to Harrisburg to play Overwatch against the National Champions, one of Haskell's favorite memories with his team.

We took a very diverse group on our stage. We had three men three women, multiple races and backgrounds, and experiences," he said. "We played very very well against the National Champions. But we did it with people that you don’t normally see in most teams that tend to be male-dominated, and that was a really really proud moment."

And with the continuous growth of the sport, he hopes more players get opportunities to compete.

“It’s been awesome," Haskell said. "We were one of the early schools somewhere in the 20s to get a program, and now there are over 300 varsity programs. It’s pretty cool.”

To watch their next matchup, click here.