After some concern with how National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules would affect TU Gaming events, Student Involvement granted the competitive esports group registered student organization (RSO) status late last month.

“Because we were planning on sponsoring teams, Student Involvement had to look into NCAA rules to see if they had any rules about esports,” said William Ballengee, sophomore and president of TU Gaming. “The issue with the NCAA rules was that we wanted to have the option to sponsor members of our club to go to a tournament in Texas or somewhere else.”

Shannon Edmond, coordinator for student programs, said in an email interview there were no concerns, outside of NCAA rules, about the formation of the club.

“We just wanted to make sure that all NCAA rules regarding gaming at a competitive level were addressed,” Edmond wrote.

According to Edmond, NCAA rules only apply to clubs on the national level, so the competitions that TU Gaming plans on hosting don’t fall under these concerns.

“Our plan is to host tournaments for every game you can think of, and then have more casual events for members,” Ballengee said. “One of the first big events we want to do is host a Mario Kart tournament because everyone plays Mario Kart. … A more regular meeting would be something more obscure. I know a couple guys who signed up play Halo, so we might want to do a small Halo tournament.”

While the club has no events planned as of right now, it currently has around 40 members and plan on hosting meetings in the Cube in the Center for Sciences and Innovation (CSI). Another project the club anticipates is creating a Minecraft server for interested students at the university.

Competitive gaming has been receiving more and more attention at the collegiate level in recent years. According to Dominic Morais, assistant professor of business administration, this is because many now consider the activity a sport and are investing in it as such.

“It seems like there’s been a large increase in people just watching others play video games. You have things where people are sending in millions of dollars, and thousands of people are filling up stadiums in order to watch people play games,” Morais said. “People are living together, practicing together for hours a day. The same type of investment you see in other sports, you see going on in esports.”

Some schools, like Robert Morris University, even have an intercollegiate varsity gaming club. This is because competitive gaming has started to become more widely considered a sport.

“I teach it in my Contemporary American Sport Class,” Morais said. “We just talked about what this phenomenon is, and how we can make sense of it within the sport industry as we know it. What I wanted to impart upon my students is that sport is entertainment, and if you’re into this kind of stuff, don’t cut yourself off from it.”

Even though a gaming club has only just been established at Trinity, interest in esports is rising in the area, according to Kristen Harrison, associate athletic director for recreation and sports camp.

“I recently sat in on a conference call with the SCAC [Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference] on Oct. 24 where Schreiner University’s dean of students, Charles Hueber, lead the conversation. They had currently hired a full time esports coach,” Harrison wrote in an email interview. “Schreiner is planning a competition event on their campus for the last weekend in April and hosting Colorado College and any other university that would like to have an esports discussion or participate.  I think this would be a great opportunity to go and see how events are organized, or maybe to have the gaming club participate in the event.”

Ballengee urged all students to participate, regardless of their experience in gaming. Morais echoed these sentiments.

“I think it’s a great thing. … It’s good people are looking for other ways to compete as a team, overcome adversity,” Morais said. “The same types of things you’ll see in sports you’ll see in gaming, and I think it’s nice to have an alternative for individuals to get those same characteristics without fitting a certain identity or mold.”

Those interested in joining TU Gaming or learning more about events can visit their webpage on Presence.

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