St. Clair College to introduce esports as an academic program

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CBC News



The program is designed with a mixture of business, sports management marketing and branding


If all goes as planned, St. Clair College will have a new program come January 2019.

Students will have the option to take courses on esports, which is competitive online gaming.

The program is designed with a mixture of business, sports management marketing as well as branding and sports content.

Shaun Byrne, esports director for Saints Gaming, says the program is designed to "give students all the background knowledge they need to understand all the different key elements in the esports industry."

Byrne said there will be a push on entrepreneurship because esports is such a new industry, and creative and innovative ideas could go a long way.

Although he refers to the industry as new, Bryne says the increasing popularity could make his program extremely in demand.

"I think there is going to be a lot of jobs on the horizon in this industry," he said. Adding that Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, just invested $20M into an esports franchise this year.

Tournament held in Windsor over weekend
Over the weekend, about 500 esports competitors were in Windsor, Ont. to play their favourite online games at St. Clair College.

The tournament awarded $20,000 in prizes and $50,000 in scholarships.

Byrne says some of the players on the St. Clair College team are already interested in signing up for the academic program.

"We will set ourselves apart by having both academics and varsity," said Byrne.

"It really helps the school draw some new recruits and it also creates a lot of activity for students who weren't necessarily engaged with traditional athletics."

Awaiting ministry approval

The program was supposed to start this fall, but St. Clair College is still waiting for the Ministry of Education's final approval. Byrne says it has been approved by the college and received most of the ministry's approval.

Bryne said he will be hiring one full-time staff member and will take about 30 to 60 students in year one with plans to grow.

Byrne says he only knows of one or two American schools that have an academic esports program, all of which are in their first academic year.

"I've got players on the team right now that hadn't really considered going back to school until they saw St. Clair College was kind of leading the way with esports."