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APUS esports charts course for growth in 2024, anticipating multi-sport athletes and scholarship expansion

Posted : 23 February 2024

In the realm of collegiate sports in North America, the pathway to professional play and jobs in esports is evolving, and Esports Insider recently discussed the current landscape with Craig Skilling, the Esports Coordinator for the American Public University System (APUS).


 As the coordinator overseeing the newly established esports team at APUS, Skilling predicts that 2024 will witness the emergence of 'multi-sport' athletes who engage in both traditional sports and esports, facing decisions on continuing in football or making a shift to esports. Additionally, he anticipates an increase in college programs offering scholarships for esports.


APUS, being an online institution, presents unique challenges and opportunities for esports development. Skilling aims to build a stable esports program, not just for competition but to create a platform fostering championships.


His ambition is to be the "Nick Saban of esports," referring to the renowned football coach known for recruitment and expertise. Despite the challenges of online participation, Skilling emphasizes the global and military background of APUS students, utilizing platforms like Discord for virtual team support.


Skilling underscores the growing interest in collegiate esports during the pandemic, with schools investing in players for image promotion and monetary returns. Unlike traditional sports, esports players can achieve professional status without formal contracts.


Being in school enables holistic development, addressing concerns about safeguarding in esports. Skilling notes the value of a college education for esports players, preparing them for professional opportunities beyond playing, such as in marketing or account management.


The flexibility of playing esports in college allows students to continue their studies while competing at a high level, setting it apart from traditional sports. APUS esports players pursue a range of degrees, demonstrating diverse career goals. Skilling encourages tracking and supporting students who may leave college temporarily for esports careers, drawing parallels with NBA stars returning to school.


As the APUS esports program expands in 2024, with the addition of an Apex Legends team, Skilling prioritizes creating a level playing field for remote players, offering support with home setups, and equipment. The overarching goal is to field more teams and enhance championship prospects.


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