The Importance and Impact of Coed in Collegiate Esports

This article was contributed by Matthew Carrico, Editorial Intern.

From a glance, esports is seen as one of the most inclusive competitive mediums there is in a collegiate setting. A variety of teams from many different colleges and universities across the country have their own unique setups in terms of who makes them up. This is where the term “coed” comes into play. Coed, or co-educational, usually refers to any place where males and females go to learn something regardless including educational and competitive subjects. The original definition of coed is usually written to include males and females but in recent years has grown to include matters such as the LGBTQ+ community, people from different cultural backgrounds, and people who are suffering from disabilities. In an esports setting, our definition of coed will be including all of the above just to keep things as inclusive as possible.

In a recent article, it was announced that Augustana College in Illinois is going to launch its official esports program with a varsity athletic team included. The article goes into other important details about the new team and program including the new head coach, what the team is currently doing to practice, and offering opportunities outside of competitive esports in order for students to boost their resumes. One of the major things that stick out in the article is how it mentions that the new esports program will be “Augustana’s first coed varsity athletics team.”

This is a significant detail as it emphasizes a major difference between the setups of teams for traditional sports and esports. For the most part, the setup of teams for traditional sports is generally divided by gender and places the respective groups in their own division of the sport. Some examples would be men’s baseball and women’s softball, men’s and women’s boxing, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s hockey. This is where esports tends to stray from the standard setup surrounding divisions in sports. Esports tries its best to be an inclusive medium that welcomes players from many different backgrounds and with many different genres of games, it can be argued that esports offers more inclusion than those in regular sports. However, do not get the wrong idea as there are plenty of sports that are coed including doubles badminton, synchronized swimming, figure skating, racket sports, and even some cases of professional wrestling just to name a few.

Esports’ take on coed is one that other sports should potentially follow as a way to improve various aspects of it. One of the benefits that come from coed esports includes the diversification of teams. This benefit can be favorable from several perspectives. From an audience perspective, it can be a breath of fresh air to see a large number of people hailing from different backgrounds and can be intriguing on how they communicate with each other and coordinate strategies. It also shows the audience that the people in charge of the team care about diversity and inclusion in these changing times. 

From the perspective of a team player, there are a variety of pros. One is the development of mutual respect between people from different backgrounds and offers insight into brand new perspectives/experiences that one may not have thought of. This not only can be beneficial to developing new insights from people of different backgrounds but can also create new perspectives on the sport. This can be particularly effective when putting those skills into practice in a competitive environment.

Another perspective to consider is that of the financial benefits. When it comes to coed sports/esports, the venue for which plays host to the sports generally does not need to spend as much money when compared to other facilities that host teams based on gender divisions. This is because there are fewer teams to take into account due to the mixture of different people. It costs more money to cater to the needs of specific divisions with arguably more teams than that of coed where teams do not need to be as divisive. 

Finally, one last major benefit to consider would be the number of players present. This would only apply to places that are generally on a much smaller scale. As a result, the venue may not be able to accommodate the roster of players in a traditional sports division. Coed fixes that by allowing the ranks to be filled by anyone and everyone to make up for its lackings. They do say that strength comes in numbers.

Coed is a vital part of the development of esports teams as it is meant to demonstrate its position as an all-inclusive medium for anyone to partake in. The gaming industry has been mostly male-dominated for a number of years now but looks to be making a turnaround with more people from different backgrounds getting involved. If this turnaround wants to keep going, it is important to emphasize the importance and benefits of coed in these situations. Many traditional sports teams still follow the standard gender division structures. From this, it is important to understand how esports makes itself stand out from the other sports setups and further increases interactivity and respect in the community.

About The Author

Robbie Landis Host of the CheckpointXP National Show, Other Identity comic book podcast and a Dungeon Master. Robbie Landis has been playing games since Yoshi's Cookie Factory was released on the NES. He enjoys RPGs, APEX Legends and World of Warcraft.

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