ESports received another shot of traditional sports “legitimacy” this week, as according to the Daily Dot, former beloved professionals of their respective sports, Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins have become major investors in the NRG eSports organization.
Following in the footsteps of Shaq’s former teammate, Rick Fox– who currently owns and helps manage his League of Legends team Echo Fox– Shaq, Rodriguez, and Rollins approached NRG directly to become involved. NRG’s chairman And y Miller is hoping that NRG’s new investors can offer advice to the currently young core of NRG’s League of Legends and Counter Strike teams, because similar to the young eSports professionals, all three investors turned professional at very young ages. According to Miller, Shaq, Rodriguez, and Rollins understand the pressures that young athletes must deal with, and hopefully can impart their wisdom on the young squads.
ESports, the current multi-billion dollar industry that’s sweeping the world ablaze, has slowly been gaining more respect and favor from the more traditional sports media outlets these past few years, with the likes of industry luminaries like ESPN and Turner Sports jumping onto the bandwagon. Whether it’s live streams of competitions on television or having devoted journalists on hand to discuss the various competitive scenes, because of the massive followings many of these franchises garner, it’s no wonder traditional sports outlets have started to think of eSports as a way to bring younger fans to their websites.
As a major fan of traditional sports and eSports, seeing the two worlds coalesce like this makes me very happy, because the crossover appeal between the two industries is what drew me to each in the first place. The competition, the storylines, the camaraderie– both have them in droves, and the larger the audiences the better the experience in my opinion. However, if the trend of these mega investors continue, anyone with dreams of owning or starting an eSports team should start sooner rather than later, lest they be forced out by the wealthier debutantes.