The next big college athlete could sit at a computer during a game

A moment of action during a League of Legends match between Michigan State and Ohio State in 2006.

Is video gaming a real collegiate sport?

Last week, all 12 schools in the Big Ten sent teams to the Big Ten Network League of Legends tournament thanks to scholarships provided by the company that makes the game.

The goal of League of Legends is to destroy the other team’s nexus, which lies inside the opponent’s base.

With the season over, the players want student-athlete status now, Minnesota Daily reports.

“We want to treat League as if it were a real sport,” team member Jeff Wang says. “It’s definitely just as rigorous and has as equal depth as any game.”

“We have a group that is putting in time and effort to represent the school,” Wang said.

The players say other schools are taking e-sports more seriously, even awarding scholarships to players. The U of M is not. Not yet, anyway.

“Having lots of people who understand what you’re doing and respect what you’re trying to do for the school is awesome,” said League of Legends player Evan Lawson, who receives an athletic scholarship from Robert Morris.

RMU Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher said because the players spend just as much time practicing and competing as other student-athletes do, they deserve the recognition.

Official athletic teams are more likely to gain sponsorships from prominent gaming entities, such as ASUS and Alienware, University BTN team member Nick Dutoit said.

Right now, the University’s team is focusing on recruiting the best players on campus in order to get attention from the Athletics Department and big-name brands, Dutoit said.

More than 100 million people around the world play League of Legends, according to Sports Illustrated, which profiled the growing effort for status on the nation’s campuses.