posted by Matt W on December 10th, 2014

Toward the end of my senior year in high school I was called to the principal’s office. As I couldn’t remember any recent principal worthy crimes, I started wondering what I had done that the high school statute of limitations hadn’t run out on. Did they finally figure out it was me that super glued the desks to the floor of the foreign language room (it was new and cool and I had to try it on something)? No way. What about breaking the crossbar on the practice field football goal post when I tried tight-roping across it? How could they? Were they expecting me to rat someone out? Those bastards. It was a long walk.

So I sat in the sunken scolding chair that only principal’s offices are allowed to have awaiting my crime. With the deft touch that only a lifer school administrator has, he said, “YOUR NOT GOING TO GRADUATE. You don’t have enough P.E. credits.” I sat there in stunned silence. He proceeded to tell me that somehow no one had noticed that I hadn’t taken enough P.E. credits to graduate (I kept thinking that seemed like his job) and that I’ll probably need to take summer school and won’t graduate with my class. After a long silence he asked, “Did you happen to be a member of a sport’s team?”

OK, cool. I’m good. I try to sit up as straight as possible in the sunken chair. “I have been a member of the school golf team for the last 6 years,” I proudly say, adding my Junior High years to emphasize how long I had represented his school district. “Golf’s not a sport, I meant a real sport,” he says with a smirky laugh. It was the laugh that pisses me off to this day. I was a golfer and damn proud of it.

So he opens my record again and notices that I have taken every science and history class my school had to offer and that I had never taken a study hall and rarely took P.E. because I took classes like salt water biology, physics and AP chem instead. He decides to let me graduate on some “nerdy science” clause. While in my mind I was going over all the potential ways to call him an epic jackass without being expelled, in actuality, I hurriedly left so he didn’t have time to change his mind.

So I’m driving to work the other day listening to NPR, and they have a story about Robert Morris University offering athletic scholarships to video gamers for their League of Legends team. I actually said out loud, “That’s not a sport,” and truth be told probably said it with the same laugh Mr. Parker had belittled me with all those years ago.

Now I am trying to open my mind to the changing world. While I personally love baseball, my guess is the League of Legends championship was actually watched by more people than the World Series, because even I didn’t watch much of the World Series. I get it. Now I personally still have a hard time calling something a sport that actually degrades your overall muscle mass, is done inside on a couch, and the teamwork is done over a microphone with no eye contact, but I can’t deny its popularity. So in thinking about it I guess my main issue was not the awarding of scholarships, but the fact that they are awarded through the athletic department and not through the newly formed electronic gaming department. Then I thought about how hard my son would have worked 7 years ago to get one of those scholarships, if they would have been offered. I continued to soften to the idea.

I was a parent at the beginning of the video game explosion, and admittedly I didn’t get it. Why would you choose to be inside playing Nintendo, when you could be outside playing baseball? How could you be addicted to video games the way I was addicted to sports? They were totally different. I didn’t understand. But in today’s society I guess it makes just as much sense to entice students to your university with gaming scholarships as a baseball scholarship. Maybe even more so. And I should probably be a little more sensitive to their thoughts as I still think Mr. Parker, and his close minded thoughts on golf, is a bastard to this day.

File Under Weekend Warrior