Students looking to get involved in intramural sports can now do so without breaking a sweat.
This semester, UT RecSports will host intramural esports, or competitive video gaming, for the first time. The first tournament is Oct. 29-30 and will hold a maximum of 30 players in Gregory Gym, according to Joseph Wise, assistant director of intramural sports.
“We thought it would be a great way to reach students that we may not get an opportunity to interact with during the other sports we offer,” Wise said in an email. “For our first event, we will not offer different skill levels. The event will be totally open to anyone that wants to participate.”
Wise said they chose Madden NFL 19 for this tournament, and each player will play as an individual for their chosen NFL team.
“This game has stood the test of time and continues to be a fan favorite,” Wise said. “In the future, we are open to exploring other games, but we wanted to start with a classic sports game.”
RecSports will enforce rules for the event such as timing, team selections and level of difficulty, and will staff the event with their Intramural Sports Student Staff, Wise said.
Wise said RecSports consulted members of the student organization Longhorn Gaming while setting up the tournament.
“We wanted to ensure that our efforts would intrigue the gaming community and meet their expectations,” Wise said. “(Longhorn Gaming) gave us some great feedback, and we decided to go down our current path with the hopes of potentially expanding in the near future.”
Longhorn Gaming president Victor Wattigny said he hopes intramural esports will generate interest from students who might feel intimidated at a competitive esports event.
“You don’t necessarily have to be good at soccer to go play intramural soccer, and you don’t have to be good at esports to play in a game or play in a match, but people who come to our events think you do,” biomedical engineering senior Wattigny said.
Amanda Tran, Longhorn Gaming communications director, said as esports grow in popularity, the stigma surrounding competitive video gaming has shifted.
“Usually, just when people see someone playing video games all day, they are seen as unproductive and lazy,” said Tran, a nutrition and computer science senior. “Esports gives students another outlook on being able to participate in a sport without it having to be a physically stressful sport.”