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Sacred Heart University launches esports minor

24 March 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Competitive video gaming has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. To keep up with the movement, Sacred Heart University successfully launched an esports minor in the fall with the help of corporate partners.

Esports, or “electronic sports,” entails a group of people playing competitive electronic games for spectators. Students studying for the minor—offered jointly through the College of Arts & Sciences’ School of Communication, Media & the Arts and the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology (WCBT)—take courses in sport marketing, sport and event management, digital editing and sports broadcasting, among other subjects. They learn how to market, manage and broadcast esports tournaments and gain experience from industry speakers, gaming sponsors and software. Additionally, the program gives students access to state-of-the-art facilities at SHU’s West Campus, where they will apply classroom lessons to the gaming world. To complete the minor, students participate in a capstone practicum experience: an on-campus esports event or an off-campus esports internship.

“Over the past three to five years, the esports industry has experienced amazing growth,” said Joshua Shuart, professor and director of the sport management program. “There are only a handful of programs across the country that educate people for careers in this industry, and now SHU is one of them.”

The program officially launched in the fall of 2020. The foundations in esports class is taught by the program’s co-directors, Shuart and Andrew Miller, associate professor and director of the graduate sports communication and media program. The introductory course was offered again for free during a six-week winter session. To date, over 50 students have taken the course that some students call “remarkable.”

“I would definitely recommend the courses and minor,” said junior Corey Picard, a sports communication and media major. “The material is great, and the professors are passionate about the topic.”

The program’s co-chairs launched an esports speakers series in the fall. Six professionals talked to students about esports. An advisory board dedicated to esports was also created, Shuart said. The board is working with the co-chairs to ensure the minor is as robust as possible.

“It is an honor and privilege to provide some of my industry experience and assist SHU in molding and formulating their esports educational curriculum,” said Justin M. Jacobson, a member of the esports advisory board. Jacobson is an entertainment and esports attorney, and manager of Ford Models’ Esports & Gaming talent division. “I am excited to incorporate my unique perspective and information in the esports business, marketing and law areas, to the University as it grows its course offerings.”

Ivan “OG King Curt” Curtiss, another advisory board member, and NetsGC head coach and general manager said, “The esports industry is rapidly growing in both popularity and revenue, and the foundational coursework we’re building with Sacred Heart University is important as we begin to develop the unique skills, talents and abilities needed for the next generation of esports professionals.”

Various career opportunities in esports parallel jobs in the traditional sports world. “There are team managers, broadcast professionals, production managers, project managers, communication strategists, social media managers and marketers, to name a few,” Shuart said.

The minor appeals to students seeking a career in esports, or who have a strong interest in the field. “We expect students to major mainly in business, computer science and/or communications,” Miller said. However, he emphasized that the minor does not train students to be competitive gamers, and students in the program do not need be skilled at video games.

Shuart and Miller believe students on SHU’s esports club team also will be interested in the program. The club team formed in 2017, and meets in the game room in Bergoglio Hall. Last year, its League of Legends team competed for the championship title at the Hudson Valley Gamer Con.

“We anticipate that members of the club team would benefit by learning the business and media production aspects of the game,” Miller said.

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