In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Mississippi restructured all in-person activities on campus during the spring and summer terms.
Activities such as classes and student advising moved to a remote online structure. Even the Department of Campus Recreation held intramural sports basketball, football and soccer competitions online.
These intramural sports games do not take place on a field or a court, but in the comfort of each player’s home. Players are also not required to have any equipment except their PlayStation 4 or Xbox 1 consoles.
The games are part of the Intramural Best in Mississippi Esports Competition, an event created to bring students from all Mississippi colleges and universities together.
“This is our first time ever trying an intramural esports competition out for the entire state,” said Jamaal Rhodes, UM coordinator of intramural sports and sport clubs. “We got the details together and created a flyer to send out to every college and university in the state of Mississippi, which is over 30 schools.”
This competition started as an idea from staff members from three different universities: Rhodes; Steven Knecht, competitive sports coordinator at Mississippi State University; and Joshua Brunson, coordinator of intramurals and club sports for campus recreation at the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Intramural Best in Mississippi Esports Competition had its first conference from May 27 to June 29. The second conference runs through Friday (July 10).
It’s projected by Newzoo, a games, esports and mobile market intelligence provider, that the total global esports audience will grow to 495 million people this year. Newzoo also estimates that the global esports economy will generate revenues of $1.1 billion this year.
This tournament is not limited to just students, but is also open to all alumni and staff members of any college or university in Mississippi. Incoming freshmen from each school are also allowed to participate.
“Our goal was to provide an outlet for people to play video games to take their mind off school and the whole pandemic going on right now,” Brunson said.
Players from Ole Miss, MSU, USM, Hinds Community College, Delta State University and Mississippi Valley State University have joined the competition.
The tournament offers four different games: Rocket League, NBA 2K20, FIFA 20 and Madden 20. Three of the games are individual competitions: NBA 2K20, FIFA 20 and Madden 20.
The second conference of the competition includes NBA 2K20 and FIFA 20. Players can register for the waitlist to participate in the second conference until midnight July 10.
As any good competition has, the Intramural Best in Mississippi Esports Competition has prizes for the winners. Prizes include apparel from each participating institution and a gift card to Academy Sports.
“Winners get physical prizes, as well as bragging rights to being the best video game player in the state of Mississippi,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes and Brunson both said they see the virtual competition happening again in the future.
“This started from us all trying to bring the whole state together during this hard time,” Rhodes said. “The idea behind this competition came from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is something that can happen for years to come.”
“We hope to keep doing this tournament, even throughout the school semesters, not just during the summer,” Brunson said.
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