Athletes of the future won’t just be crossing finish lines or scoring goals. They will be gaming, as in video gaming.
Only a few schools in Connecticut sponsor e-sports at the varsity level. It’s already a hit on some college campuses, and professional leagues exist worldwide. Yet, a Hartford man thinks it will soon blow up across the whole state. Horlando Cornejal, a college prep worker for the Hartford Public Library, is working to bring video gaming as a team sport to all Connecticut public high schools.
“My goal is to have Connecticut be the pioneering government body that can regulate and establish rules for e-sports,“ said Cornejal. And he expects it will happen in “less than two years.“
If News 8′s story three weeks ago on New Haven gaming phenomenon Dion Younger didn’t convince you it’s no longer just a hobby, Cornejal says the amount of money being generated by the e-sports industry should seal the deal.
“It’s going to surpass $1.1 billion,“ he said. That doesn’t include endorsement deals tied to lucrative contracts.
Alize Ayala is an e-sports athlete from Hartford. He says the new form of competition is more than welcome. “Competing against somebody one-on-one in first person would be something we haven’t done before,“ Ayala told us.
Connecticut is among the first states to officially sanction e-sports, according to the Conn. Interscholastic Athletic Conference. And so far, Manchester High is one of a handful of schools already launching e-sports teams. But video gaming as a sport is not without injuries.
“They experience high levels of carpal tunnel, back pain, depression and anxiety,“ said Cornejal.
The training is also intense, up to 12 hours a day. Cornejal thinks it’s well worth it. “What matters the most is your ability to play,“ he said.