Western Washington University has multiple clubs centered around gaming. Some of these clubs, such as the Rocket League Club, have an esports program that could be helped by becoming a club sport.
Recent graduate Kevin McGrane is a club officer for the Rocket League Club at Western and is involved with Western’s intramural sports program.
If the esports community at Western continues to grow, then there is a chance that esports can become an official club sport, McGrane said.
“Over the next few years, if the demographic of students who are playing esports grows at the rate it’s growing at and administration takes that into consideration, then there could definitely be some progression with moving it into being a club sport,” he said.
Caitlin Sommers is the assistant director of sport clubs and intramurals at Western, she said there is not currently enough capacity to add another club sport.
“If Campus Recreation maintains its current level of funding, there is no more capacity to add clubs.”
The only way a club sport spot opens up with current funding is if an existing club sport moves back to an Associated Students club, Sommers said.
“Although this can happen occasionally, it is not a regular occurrence,” she said.
Lucy Caples is the intramural and youth sport camps coordinator at Western, who helped to host intramural esports tournaments during COVID-19.
There is currently not an available space to continue hosting intramural esports, she said.
“We would love to if there was a better facility to offer them on-campus,” Caples said. “But as of right now, we do not have the capacity.
One potential argument in favor of getting esports at Western made into an official club sport could come through Collegiate Rocket League, the top collegiate Rocket League tournament in the world.
“They do a big tournament with 200 to 400 teams, and the top teams qualify for a second tournament to decide who makes it into the like 20 team league,” McGrane said. “We’ve gotten really close in recent years to making it into league play, where you start making a decent amount of money.”
If the club started making thousands of dollars off of league play, their case to become a club sport would be greatly strengthened, McGrane said.
It seems unlikely that esports will become a club sport in the near future, as the esports community is smaller at Western when compared to rival schools with official club sports programs.
“There isn’t a huge demographic for it at Western compared to other schools,” McGrane said.
Theron Danielson (he/him) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. He is in his second year, majoring in Journalism with a minor in Theatre. His writing interests include sports, radio, and student-led events. He enjoys musical theatre, watching anime, and yelling at the TV while watching sports.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on instagram @therondanielson.