BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - If you played video games growing up, you likely heard the words “get off the couch” and “turn off the TV” from your parents.
Now, mashing the buttons on a controller could land students a scholarship.
That 's the goal of Cornelius Pointer.
"A lot of kids don't take this seriously,” he said. “They just think of it as an opportunity to play a game."
Pointer is the president of the Southern University Lab School’s new Esports team. It was started by Christopher Turner in the summer of 2018.
Turner says despite what he thought was the stigma around video games, the program was well received by parents.
"I thought it would be a hard sell, but once I rolled out the details, the 200 colleges, the scholarships, you know, they can go pro, they can go on a fast track in this industry, which is a $1.1 billion industry,” Turner said. “It’s not a hard sell once you give them the hard facts and numbers.”
Practices are similar to those with any other sport, only they’re in a classroom and instead of uniforms and pads, the team uses a controller and sits in a chair.
“It’s more of exercising your mind than physical,” he said. “Anything you do in repetition is easy to go back to, so just scrimmaging real scenarios that probably would happen during the game, competing against each other, and boosting team morale and having that mindset of going in there and knowing the game like second nature.”
So far, around 45 students have joined the club. Thirteen of those compete nationally.
“We just played a school out of Oklahoma last night [Monday],” Turner said.
Pointer is one of his star players. He’s hoping the experience he gains on this team will propel him toward a scholarship and a chance to play in college.
“Like, a lot of people won’t be able to get scholarships playing football, so they come to gaming and if they play seriously, they can get scholarships that can help them build another future besides just playing sports and risk getting hurt,” Pointer said. “With gaming, I’ll be able to have my fun and major in chemical engineering or music.”
This program is new and the team is currently operating out of an old classroom. The team is fundraising to build a new gaming area and buy more consoles and games. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.