Football continually draws an array of criticism when it comes to safety. Based on a study that appeared in September 2017’s Translational Psychiatry, children that play football before the age of 12 are far more likely to have behavioral problems, trouble with decision-making and potential for long-term brain damage. In addition, repetitive head impacts may triple the risk of developing depression. According to Robert stern, one author of the study, “The brain is going through this incredible time of growth between the years of 10 and 12, and if you subject that developing brain to repetitive head impacts, it may cause problems later in life.” The risks have been laid out and parents are looking for another way to keep their kids competitively involved in school activities.
With the above considerations in mind, esports, or electronic sporting activities, has seen a popularity increase at schools. It has been proposed that esports can help children develop communication skills and learn to set and achieve goals. Proponents argue that esports can help foster a healthy competitive drive without risking the football field. John Sparlin, a school administrator in IL. Stated that “For kids who maybe weren’t into athletics, this gives them another avenue to be active in their school.” Some have claimed that esports can help unify jocks and gamers in an effort to beat other schools in competitions (ChicagoTribune.com, 17 May 2017).
This phenomenon extends far beyond high school kids. In fact, more than 30 colleges actually offer video game scholarships, and far more than that offer competitive gaming clubs (ChicagoTribune.com, 17 May 2017). Data shows that 79% of monthly esports viewers belong to the coveted bellow -35 demographic. With this insight in mind, Hulu will begin streaming four new esports series starting Fall 2017. The program offerings include a docuseries, a talk show and a highlights show (BusinessInsider.com, 11 October 2017).