Esports booming as real-life sports are shut down due to coronavirus pandemic

WORCESTER, Mass. — Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put a stop to the entire world, many have had to adjust to the new normal, which, for many, means transitioning to digital alternatives.

But, for one group, the normal was already an online experience.

Esports now have an advantage over real-life sports, which, from the professionals to the college level, have been canceled for now.

It’s still game on for esports teams and universities across the state as nothing has changed for players and students alike.

While esports scholarship students may no longer be at the Becker College campus, the lessons continue online.

“When COVID-19 picked up well, initially I thought it would only be a couple weeks and we will be out of this and then we didn’t,” said Dawson Golove, a Freshman.

Like everyone else, they are taking classes from home and struggling with the hurdles of online lessons. The easiest classes to adapt are the ones they had already been doing online.

“Honestly it’s been pretty difficult I’m not a great online learner but I have been adapting,” said Evan Arhelger, a Freshman from Andover.

Tim Loew, the general manager of Becker College’s varsity esports program, explains why they were not as affected by the coronavirus as everyone else.

“Instead of all our students being together on campus all of our players were in six different places,” said Loew. “Other than that in many ways esports is unaffected by the situation because esports is online anyway, our field is a screen.”

Since students were moving off campus, their national March Madness-like tournament was suspended, but the students spent this past weekend defeating several other local schools.

“We only dropped one match during the entire tournament,” said Arhelger.

The top-rated program is now taking their talents to high school students also stuck at home. Becker College is launching a program Tuesday on its channel where students can learn esports, interactive media, business, and game design for free.

“It’s esports time to shine right now because there’s nothing else to watch,” said Arhelger.

Like many other surreal realities that make up our new normal, when these students signed up for the first varsity esports program in New England, they didn’t realize they would be the only student athletes competing this semester.

“I can’t really go into a baseball game with eight other people to play a full game, I can’t really go bowling well probably buy myself but nobody goes bowling by themselves,” said Golove. “Esports is filling a gap right now that really does come from the sad cancellations of these Real life sporting events.”