Sports Teams and their Entrance into the eSports Industry

In the eSports industry, a new sports teams getting involved with gaming is starting to occur every month now. Sports teams are some of the most popular brands in the world and bring loads of money to the eSports scene. The eSports scene is benefiting greatly with all the new exposure and money coming in from these high profile sports organizations. Why are sports teams so eager to pick up gamers to represent them? Here’s a breakdown of sports teams and their relationship with eSports.

Sports Teams Currently in eSports

German Soccer Club, Schalke FC, was one of the first sports team to have a professional League of Legends team.

German Soccer Club, Schalke FC, was one of the first sports team to have a professional League of Legends team.

What sports teams have picked up eSports teams you ask? Schalke FC has a professional League of Legends team at the highest professional level in Europe. Spanish soccer club, Valencia CF, picked up one of the best Rocket League teams to compete for them. Portuguese soccer club, Lisbon recently announced that they will be starting their own eSports department and are eying to enter the League of Legends realm and pick up a FIFA player. The widely known soccer team Manchester City picked up a FIFA player for themselves following in the footsteps of fellow UK soccer club, West Ham United. Even Manchester United is looking to make a splash and pick up an Overwatch team. The German soccer club VFL Wolfsburg and the Turkish side Besiktas entered eSports in 2015 and are looking to expand their eSports brand.

Former NBA champion, Rick Fox, talking with his League of Legends team.

Former NBA champion, Rick Fox, talking with his League of Legends team.

Soccer teams aren’t the only sport getting involved. The NBA owners of the Sacremento Kings, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies have already joined the eSports scene by joining ownership groups of a League of Legends team or investing heavily in teams. Former NBA player Rick Fox started his own eSports organization less than a year ago and already has one of the most widespread organizations to ever enter eSports. Former star athletes Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins are also investors for a League of Legends team. Former NBA great Bill Walton has also been seen attending many Street Fighters and most recently the EVO 2016 earlier this month.

So we have soccer, basketball, a little baseball, but what about the NFL? Recent reports have stated that at least three NFL franchises are strongly pursuing the option to sign a Madden player to represent their team. EA Sports has met with the NFL and gone over how teams can sponsor gamers. It’s only a matter of time before NFL teams jump in and pick up professional Madden players. The same can be seen happening in the NHL as well. Sports teams from all over the globe are now invested in eSports and that list will keep on growing.


The Big Question: Why are Sports Teams Getting in eSports?

The answer is simple, money. Sports franchises can profit by picking up players to game for them and win tournaments. There is also the aspect of advertising your brand and getting your team more exposure. Sports teams can give their eSports teams/players jerseys with their logos on them, have them play with their team at competitions, and will gain more fans and exposure from it all. The more the brand is known, the wider the fan base is. The wider the fan base is, the more money will be earned. It’s simple business expansion from these sports teams.

The eSports industry is rapidly growing each year. These sports teams know that they need to get in touch with the new generation, and eSports can help with that. In this day and age, the youth doesn’t even need to turn on their television for anything. The internet has taken over and is the best place to gain popularity now. The eSports industry will be a billion dollar industry in a little over a year, why wouldn’t businesses want to get involved. Coca-Cola, Intel, Red Bull, and many other huge businesses already sponsor eSports teams and tournaments. There is money to be made in tournament winnings, merchandising, and product sales. Joining the eSports scene is just a more effective way for sports teams to gauge the interest of the millennial generation and can be very effective in that.

Does eSports Want This?

Professional FIFA player for German Soccer Club, VFL Wolfsburg

Professional FIFA player for German Soccer Club, VFL Wolfsburg

Of course, eSports want this to continue happening. Sports teams bring in plenty of money and new fans to a booming industry. The pair is a good fit for both sides and should be welcomed with open arms. Organizations like TSM and Fnatic that are solely eSports organizations will have the experience with gamers, but the sports teams competitive drive and deep pockets will allow them to fit right in the industry and build organizations that can compete across many different games. Don’t be surprised if your favorite NFL, NBA, MLB, Soccer team, or NHL team picks up some professional gamers in the upcoming months or years. It’s a move that teams should and will be doing sooner rather than later. Gamers can now strive to become the best they can at a certain game in hopes of getting a contract from their favorite sports team. The dream is very much alive.

By: Jeff “Gravy” Miskin

Twitter: @BigBadGravy