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The University of Michigan announced today that its Recreational Sports program will now include a competitive esports program.

Michigan adopted the program from the student organization, Arbor Esports. Michigan graduate Tony Yuan is the founder of this organization. The group was very successful in various esports, including League of Legends, Rocket League, CS:GO, and Hearthstone. Yuan was pleased to see his alma mater embrace what he built.

“We made this change, because we heard our teams asking for support with travel, coaching, and events,” Michigan esports officer Avi Lessure said in a press release. “As a sponsored student organization, we will be able to provide vehicles for events, and funds for team development as well as have additional resources to make our events just that much better.”

Esports in the Big 10?

Michigan’s director of recreational sports Mike Widen also agreed that this was a great move, especially since the pandemic has restricted all in-person events. With the ability to host tournaments all online, esports is rather appealing all around.

“Esports is growing in popularity all over the world, and we are seeing a significant growth in the number of student Esports groups who want to represent their respective college or university, the same way as in traditional sports,” Widen said.

Personally, I loved his next statement the most.

“In many of the same ways we build community among our students through traditional recreation programs, Esports provides that same opportunity for community building among students through their common interest in gaming,” he continued. “This new program will allow us to reach students who are not engaging with our programs and facilities otherwise.”

Michigan is just one of many US universities that have opened doors to the world of competitive esports. With the surge in popularity of esports, one that’s so big that not even ESPN can ignore, it’s only a matter of time before the NCAA brings it into the fold.