Olivia R. February 19, 2020
Wisconsin's Lakeland University made a surprising hire for its esports coach position. The school added former Green Bay Packers halfback Ahman Green to serve as head coach of its esports division.
"The tournaments and competition have always been there," Green told ESPN about esports' growth. "In the last decade, big business has learned enough about esports to understand how to make money in different ways and with that interest, the growth has multiplied exponentially."
The four-time NFL Pro Bowler is no stranger to video games. When he was a child, Green played Madden and Tecmo Bowl. He's since switched to Halo 5: Guardians, a game that has further inspired him to get more involved with esports, an industry he's been watching for a while now.
In 2011, Green told "True Game Fans Network" that he loved watching Counter-Strike and Madden.
Over the last few years, many athletes have gotten involved with esports as partners and investors. In 2018, Michael Jordan invested $26 million in Team Liquid's parent company, aXiomatic Gaming. The same year, Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala invested $37 million in Team SoloMid, along with NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
"More people and places are talking about esports and making it a focus of discussion and making more content about esports everywhere," Green noted.
Ahman Green bringing skills from the NFL into esports
Lakeland University's esports program involves several competitive titles including League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Fortnite, CSGO, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Green will be coaching the entire esports program.
Though Green has never played video games at a competitive level, he is looking to help the esports talent with skills like preparation, leadership, and sportsmanship.
"Also, skills like practicing and reviewing game film and learning from your mistakes and getting better. We'll also focus on becoming better at communication amongst the teams that we have at Lakeland University, and learning proper sportsmanship as an esports athlete," he said.
Just like traditional sports, esports requires hard work, dedication, and accountability, Green explained.
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