Dr. Joey Gawrysiak: An Education in the Business of eSports - Work In Sports Podcast

Shenandoah University's Dr. Joey Gawrysiak joins the Work In Sports podcast to discuss the first-of-its-kind, newly launched, multi-track eSports major and minors! 

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged leanring for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

We’re going to go into the wayback machine for a bit, but I’ll make it quick and it’ll have a point.

Back in 1997 I was in my first year at CNN/Sports Illustrated and my cousin said to me, you know what we should do, we should make a website where all of the sports people you come in contact with can write their sports opinions and share them on the internet.

Now that doesn’t sound like much, but this was 1997, the internet was a relatively new place, it wasnt the source of everything like it is now. 

The internet was like Las Vegas in the 1940s before Sinatra and the Rat Pack made it a destination. It existed...but it was basically a desert with a little bit of make-up.

My cousins idea was essentially what would have been the beginning of sports blogging. We had all this major talent, from reputable sports anchors like Nick Charles, Fred Hickman, Vince Cellini and Bob Lorenz - to up and comers like Laura Okmin, Chris Rose and Steve Berthiaume. 

We had analysts from all the major sports -- guys like James Lofton, Trev Alberts, Bob Golic...who by the way has the largest hands I have ever shaken… dude had articulated cast iron pans for hands. 

But you know what I did -- I told my cousin, no way, no one would ever read that, I don’t think it would work. 

You know how you have those moments you look back on in life and cringe… yeah, that’s one of mine. I didn’t see it. Not one bit. In about 2-3 years time everything sports related was on the internet. 

BUT, this moment has shaped me. I never forgot my lack of vision...so since that date I’;ve taken this and turned it into a positive. I listen more to ideas, I try to see the forest through the trees, I don’t summarily dismiss anything. I try to see how things can work, rather than how they can’t.

Analytics, social media all things I had a much more open mind for. eSports...well, that snuck up on me. I’m not a gamer, I think it looks like fun, don’t think I’m being highbrow because I’m not, I’ve just never committed the time to it. 

But I didn’t see it as the gigantic business it’s become. The business of eSports is huge and there is money and careers in it, not just for the gamers themselves for all the people that make these huge global events a reality without controllers in their hands. 

And with this demand, comes need. A need for educated students tailoring themselves to the business of eSports. New this semester, Shenandoah University is offering esports management major and minor, an esports media and communication major and an esports performance minor. 

This program is the brainchild of todays guest -- Dr. Joey Gawrysiak  -- who is going to share mor about the growing world of eSports and how students today can become a perfect match for this growing field.  


Questions for Dr. Joey Gawrysiak, Shenandoah University's eSports Program Director


1: In my experience – and please to all my professor friends listening out there don’t take this personally – but in my experience, advanced education is slow to respond to newly emerging trends. For example, analytics was all the rage for a decade before schools started incorporating this into their curriculum.

You and your team at Shenandoah are challenging this perception – explain how this concept of adding an academic esports major came about.

Follow up - You have this radical idea, something no one else is doing - you come up with a plan/strategy etc.  and you have to present that concept to your bosses – did you have a moment of doubt where you thought – this is insane! Or did you feel pretty confident throughout?

2:  You’ve been a professor at Shenandoah since 2012, but let’s got back before this – what is your personal history with esports? Did you grow up a gamer and this was a logical extension to bring it to the classroom – or did you just see an opportunity to expand the program and go for it?

3: At Shenandoah you now offer an esports management major and minor, esports media and communication major and an esports performance minor – tell us about the esports management major – we all so often focus on the gamers themselves, just like we do with NFL or NBA stars, but what kind of opportunities are there in the business of esports that you are preparing students for?

4: It can’t be easy to create a new major, there is no real blueprint -- how much did you consult with the outside organizations within esports to help create the major and curriculum – or was it all you?

5: This is your first semester offering these majors and minors – what has the reception been like to date?

6: In your own opinion – explain the rise of esports to me. I am not a gamer and I’ll fully admit having worked my entire career in a more traditional sports media world covering the four major sports, tennis, golf etc. – I didn’t see this coming.

Why do you think esports has become so popular with growth numbers that are off the charts?

7: When you talk about esports and gamers, many people have an immediate reaction, form a mental picture in their head, or judge the person immediately and unfairly.

What is the biggest misconception about gamers?

8: eSports isn’t just a major at Shenandoah, you also have a varsity esports team and a dedicated spectator arena on campus. How does the varsity team work as compared to other sports on campus – do you have scholarships? Recruit? Train? Travel? Compete?

I’m not trying to be dismissive – I really don’t know and am very curious how it all works!

9: What are your goals for the program overall – where do you go from here?

10: Talking globally – I’ve read and researched in many places where the esports industry is expected to grow to a 1.4 billion dollar industry by 2020. That’s pretty amazing.

Put on your future hat - where are we with esports in 10 years? What kind of jobs are in demand, how big is the market? How many people are in the industry? Arenas?  What does it look like to you?

Listen in to the Work In Sports podcast for the answers to these questions and more with Dr. Joey Gawrysiak, Shenandoah University's eSports Program Director

By Brian Clapp | September 04, 2019
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