UvA gives gamer elite sport status

Gamer and medical student Koen Schobbers is set to receive an elite sport status at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. This will give him more scope to “develop his talent” while pursuing his medical studies. At TU/e no elite sport arrangements are in place specially for gamers.

“I have to train ten to fifteen hours a week. It's impossible to combine that with my internships,” Schobbers told news broadcaster NOS. This has prompted AMC to meet him halfway: starting now, Schobbers can claim the status held by elite athletes like Epke Zonderland. This will give him more time to complete his internships and he can postpone his exam dates.

Schobbers is pleased. “It really says something when an outstanding university takes a gamer seriously,” he says. He believes it sends a clear message to other universities and to the Dutch sports federation NOC*NSF.

But the response from NOC*NSF is cautious. A spokesperson thinks it is “very good” that universities are giving talented young people the chance to develop, but whether gaming should really be regarded as a sport is a question he leaves open. “That is for the institution to decide.”

How NOC*NSF itself regards these so-called ‘e-sports’ depends on the international community. “If it is decided there that gaming is a sport, which is not improbable because in many countries that is already the case, we in the Netherlands will follow suit. But for the time being our stance is 'wait and see'.”

Willemijn Mattheij, commissioner for external relations at the Eindhoven Students eSports Association Zephyr, calls it "a good development that Schobbers has acquired elite sport status. In recent years eSports have really grown rapidly and elite level gaming requires as much dedication as traditional sports at the same level. So it is only logical that the UvA moves with the times and adapts its policy accordingly."

As yet TU/e has no elite sport arrangements specially for gamers, says Wim Koch, director of the Student Sports Center, when asked. "If we get a gamer who fulfils the eligibility requirements, then elite sport arrangements will be made for that person." One of these requirements is that the student holds an elite sport status as assigned by his or her sports association or NOC*NSF.

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