As a student programming professional in the field of Campus Recreation, remote programming has been creeping into conversations for quite some time. This dialogue of remote programming has been championed for a variety of reasons (i.e. practicality, accessibility, reaching a new generation of student, etc.).This conversation has been brought to the forefront because of the current global pandemic. Our society is faced with a collective moment in which we must interact from a distance. The struggles of this process on our economy and mental well-being are not to be understated, but opportunities for growth should be embraced. We are finding that many of the tools and activities we need to navigate these times were waiting for us to unleash their full potential. 

Just under a year ago (July 2019) British teenager, Jaden Ashman, became a millionaire by placing runner up with his teammate at the Fortnite World Cup tournament held in New York City. This was not just a one time thing as Fortnite pushes 19.9 million dollars annually, putting them third in prize money per year amongst their eSport peers. The top ten eSports average over 120 million in prize money collectively per year! This industry is modeling themselves like any other sport by gathering sponsors, forming teams, broadcasting on bigger networks, and pushing their top competitors into the spotlight. From this I hope you can see that youth today no longer need to be a 6’ 5” super athlete to achieve riches and lore, nor do they need to be interested in a traditional sport to find a competitive fix. 

While the prize money is there, eGaming and virtual programming as a whole has yet to be fully embraced. It may be hard for a new spectator to grasp the idea of watching video games or for that matter, listening to commentators narrate the action. Amidst our current situation, ESPN looked to eGaming for programming as well by holding an NBA 2k players tournament; however, the production value was lacking and many viewers felt the programming fell flat. 
Regardless, this was a great opportunity for eGaming to test their product on the big stage and I have no doubt the industry will learn from these experiences just as we are right now.

In the past Campus Recreation Intramural Sports has only offered eGaming as one day in person tournaments and now we have been facilitating our first eGaming leagues with very positive results! Out of three fully functional eGaming leagues one in particular garnered twelve teams and will foster more participation than a few of our traditional intramural sports (i.e. dodgeball and archery tag). Additionally, our virtual Running/Walking Challenge has seen nearly as many participants as our Homecoming 5k.

In student programming, engagement is the goal and currently remote programming is shedding light on the potential opportunities that lay ahead. The stakes have never been higher in terms of opportunities available and necessity of use. This experimentation time highlights that engagement, participation, connection, and even work look much different right now, but it is still real and very much worth our while. I encourage all of us to embrace these times and find things that will help us when this passes. Stay safe Bears and keep connecting! 

Campus Recreation Virtual Programming Opportunities: 

FitWell Weekly Challenge  
Running/Walking Challenge
Intramural eGaming