Could esports, women’s flag football come to ACC?

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Sports

October 22, 2021 - 3:20 PM

Esports have grown in popularity in recent years. Photo by Wikipedia.org

Two new sports may soon be added to the mix at Allen County College, according to Doug Desmarteau, ACC athletic director. 

Women’s flag football and esports are two of the fastest-rising athletic programs in the country. Allen has had discussions about both.

“We have a facility right now inside our track that is big enough that we can put up some goalposts and make it happen,” said Desmarteau of the flag football program.

A grant released by the NFL in July is helping push the program. 

“ACC President John Masterson and I had a big conversation about women’s flag football because of the grant,” said Desmarteau. “It’s a drop in the bucket of what the program would cost, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying pads for traditional football, and it has fewer players.”

Though the idea is intriguing, Desmarteau has doubts.

“My problem right now is where do you recruit players?” Desmarteau asked. “There aren’t a lot of high schools playing women’s flag football, and you are recruiting from other sports. You are taking players off the soccer teams, softball, and basketball teams.”

“It’s an emerging sport and I find it interesting,” Desmarteau added. 

“I won’t make any guarantees,” Desmarteau said. “It’s enticing. If we have space to house people it’s something I would be interested in.”

There are plans to build more dorms or renovate existing ones to help house students.

Desmarteau says the college also has looked at esports, where teams play popular video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty.

“Esports is another sport that is emerging,” Desmarteau said. “There are some startup costs with computers, but not as many constant costs in the budget.”

Barton, Coffeyville, Fort Scott, Garden City, Highland, Hutchinson, and Pratt already sponsor esports in the Jayhawk Conference.

“If we want to expand and grow, it’s going to have to be in some sort of athletics or activity,” Desmarteau said. “We have to get the infrastructure first.”

Esports would do more than just add an athletic opportunity to Allen. 

“The thing about esports that is enticing to some of the higher-ups is that you can bring academic programs in with it,’’ Desmarteau explained. “You could bring in computer design, gaming, or information technology and create credit hours. If you do bring in esports you can start a whole academic program around it.”

For now, these are just discussions, Desmarteau said, but worth having.

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