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Kent's Sports Blog: Here's to Nerd Sports

 The Pac-12 Conference promotes video-gaming to the intercollegiate level.  

| BY Kent McDill

Occasionally, my younger son will walk up to me in the house and say something like “Dad, I just got a hat trick in my hockey game and we won 4-3 in overtime.”

My son does not play hockey, at least not the hockey that immediately comes to mind. So the fact that he scored a hat trick clues me in to the fact that he scored those goals playing a video game.

I always remind him he did not “score’’ anything, that there is nothing to be proud of from the results of a video game competition, and that he is wasting his life.

I could be mistaken.

Competitive video gaming is becoming big business, as players have moved on beyond competing just against their friends through an internet connection to competing against players they don’t from around the world for significant prizes.

Such competitions turned legitimate this week when the Pac-12 Conference announced plans to sponsor video gaming competitions among players from their 12 schools.

The Pac-12 CEO Group, which is made up of the presidents and chancellors of the 12 schools, announced this week that the Pac-12 will now hold eSports competitions among their schools this coming academic year. Teams will participate in an as-yet-unspecified game, and the games will include head-to-head matchups similar to a regular season football or basketball game as well as a tournament in conjunction with a Pac-12 championship event, the ones in which live human beings compete on actual physical games.

Here is the best part, and why the Pac-12 continues to represent what used to be called “The Left Coast’’, the open-minded mindset that West Coast people often display.



According to the Pac-12 CEO Group press release, “eSports is closely tied to academic departments at Pac-12 universities such as computer science, visual and cinematic arts, engineering and others.”

“ESports is a natural fit for many of our universities located in the technology and media hubs of the country,’’ said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. “ Pac-12 Networks’ commitment to innovation as well as its natural tie to our universities and established media platform make it the perfect organization to develop the framework for eSports intercollegiate competition.”

This is not the first step in legitimizing video game competitions on college campuses, but it is the most organized and direct. A couple of years ago, Robert Morris University in Chicago fielded the nation’s first varsity eSports squad. Students earned scholarships to play video games in the pursuit of their college degrees in a variety of subjects related to the video games, such as computer networking to business.

Another positive step the Pac-12 made was to recommend adding an institutional fine to the conference court and field storming policy. Starting next academic year, a school will be fined $25,000 for a field storming incident, $50,000 if it happens a second time, and $100,000 for a third time.

So the Pac-12 is encouraging nerd sports while discouraging rowdy fan behavior at live sports. It’s 2016, and that’s the way of the sports world today.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.