Video games now a varsity sport at midstate college

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Feb 14, 2018 4:58 AM

Lebanon Valley College student Nick Pollak (seated) plays video game League of Legends on his laptop while fellow students from the LVC esports team - Justin Knecht, Ben Witmer and Leah Boyer - observe. The newly introduced esports program will see LVC student-athletes competing in online games such as League of Legends, Overwatch and Hearthstone with other teams in the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). (Photo: Merriell Moyer/Lebanon Daily News)

(Harrisburg) -- A midstate college has a new varsity sports program, but the games won't actually be played on the field. 

Lebanon Valley College was originally hoping for a dozen students to join its esports program. Three times that many are now on the team, competing in the virtual arena in multi-player video games such as League of Legends.

Senior Director of Information Technology David Shapiro is overseeing the program. He says it's important for the team to have the structure of a varsity sport, instead of a student club. 

"We really wanted to make sure if we put students in this arena, to play video games at this high level, we wanted to make sure we had all the components around them to make sure that was successful and still have good students at the end of the day," Shapiro said. 

He says esports use some of the same skills as athletic competition.

"A lot of these games are heavily based in communication with each other, making sure that you're all pushing at the same time or all working together in one cohesive manner," Shapiro said. 

Students will also have the opportunity to turn pro after college.

Competitions with other college teams take place remotely. Fans will be able to watch live broadcasts of the matches.

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