Why You Should Help Your Child Become an Esports Champion
How to make $500,000 per year playing video games.
Posted February 1, 2021
What does your child want to be when they grow up? According to a 2017 study by Fatherly, the top five future job choices of kids were doctor, vet, engineer, police officer, and teacher. Although the study also reported that these choices haven’t changed a lot over the decades, one vocational goal has been commonly cited by the tweens and teens of 2020: video game professional or esports champion. And now getting rich—in addition to having fun—is possible. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the average salary for top players in the League of Legends Championship Series is approaching $500,000 per year.
In the past, many parents were quick to dismiss this goal as a viable future. Logical parents might be thinking about the improbability of becoming a professional athlete. (For high school senior boys who play basketball, 3 out of 10,000 make it to the pros; for football players, the rate is a bit higher (8 out of 10,000). Nevertheless, the experience of being on a team, exercising regularly, developing friendships, and having a clear set of goals are all good reasons to play high school sports.
The same arguments might be made for esports—with the exception of physical exercise, although elite pro esports teams do have strenuous physical exercise programs as part of their training. So why should you help your child become an esports champion?
There are some excellent reasons to support kids with the goal of becoming a professional gamer, but they are not necessarily based on the odds of achieving it, which are generally seen as less likely (about 1 in 10,000 gamers) than those of becoming a professional athlete. Nor should playing video games for up to 12 hours a day be considered a healthy activity. However, if your child is truly talented and engaged with gaming and is able to balance it with school, social and physical activities, and a bit of family time, their interest may open doors for them in the broader world of games and technology.
There is a burgeoning esports industry—predicted to have more viewers than all professional sports except football by 2021—with thousands of new jobs. Hundreds of colleges are now offering degree programs in the field of gaming. And more importantly, kids who internalize the effort, motivation, grit, commitment, and growth mindset needed to succeed in gaming are developing the work skills needed for their future success, whether in gaming or other popular vocations.
Parents are often more than willing to support their kids in an effort to achieve distant and unlikely dreams because they see the benefits of being with peers, keeping busy, and developing an interest. Consider all the soccer, softball, baseball, basketball, karate, and other practices parents drive their children to… and then sit waiting for them to be finished. Do they truly believe their kids will be professionals?
Some parents even go beyond regular practices and games. Those who can afford it send their kids to summer camps, get them onto high-level teams, buy them the best equipment, and even hire personal coaches. Many others sacrifice their time and energy to assist their kids’ sporting goals.
The vast majority of these kids—at least 99 percent—are never going to become professional soccer players or basketball players. And in case you’re wondering about how kids feel about being pro athletes, in the 2017 Fatherly survey, becoming a professional athlete was ranked third among boys and not even in the top 10 for girls, numbers that have declined since 2015, when becoming a professional athlete was ranked number one.
However, parents continue to support these activities, not because their kids will ultimately get a job from their effort, but because their kids love their sport and are enthusiastic, engaged, attentive, and willing to put forth the sustained effort that leads to improvement and accomplishment.
Yet, in the present day, many of these same parents choose not to support an activity that has a far greater chance of producing a real-life job and is a source of pleasure, effort, attention, cognitive challenges, and socialization—playing esports. Although the chances of becoming a professional esports champion are also slim, the growth of this industry ensures that many innovative and engaging jobs will be available to those with the proper education and expertise. And while we can’t predict the future, it’s likely that many esports enthusiasts will be playing esports with their friends and kids as they get older, just like many of today’s parents use sporting activities as an opportunity for socializing and connecting.
On a pragmatic level, the opportunities for well-paying jobs in the field of esports are burgeoning. There are many opportunities in game development and music and art related to video games and in the business aspects of games and technology. Pro and online gamers have used YouTube and other media tools to earn a very good living playing video games. In addition, there will be thousands of new jobs in the broader industry.
Just as in other professional sports, the vast majority of those working in esports will not be the players, but instead the coaches, physical therapists, marketing and media professionals, facilities managers, business developers, and in the administration of esports teams and leagues. Even today, a quick look through the major job search engines shows hundreds of jobs for those with knowledge of games and technology.
So if your child wants to be an esports champion, help them, but focus on the effort and the desire for improvement. Emphasize the need for balance in activities, doing well in school, exercising, socializing, and spending time with family. And open your eyes to how their involvement might later translate to a similar type of grit and persistence for other interests—and maybe even a great job.