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'The biggest game in town': Esports popularity increases during coronavirus pandemic

While Davenport University's Esports season was canceled, it has not stopped the Panthers from playing games online in amateur competition.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When the coronavirus pandemic started shutting down sports around the world, the Davenport University Esports coach thought his team might catch a break.

“For about a day, I was like, I think we may be able to still do this,” Colin Graham, 30, recalled. “And then it was like no, we probably should just go ahead and put it on pause.”

It was a tough blow for Graham, a man who would rather pause a video game than pause his passion.

“Everyone kind of wants to look at us and say, ‘what are you doing?’” he said.

Currently, not a whole lot. The Panthers had roughly 20 games left to go in their spring season. Now, just like any other spring sport at Davenport, they’re not going to have the opportunity to finish them.

“I’ve had a couple of students come up to me and say, ‘I feel like I’ve been taken away from my friends and my family because I must go home and I’m not going to be around them every day,'” Graham said.

But all hope is not lost. Some colleges are still finishing out their seasons online and around the world, more and more players are logging in for amateur competition.

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“NBA is suspended, XFL is suspended, so we’re kind of the biggest game in town,” he boasted.

And it’s game that actually thrives on self-isolation. Some may not like the idea of being cooped up inside, but for many gamers, this is where they do their best work. 

“For them, it’s like, ‘this is what we did before we went to college anyways. This is a normal weekend for us,’” Graham jokes.

All kidding aside, Graham hopes esports takes advantage of this opportunity because the longer we’re forced to stay at home, the more fans will thirst for competition.

“This is our time to shine,” he said with a smile and a laugh.

Let the games, or should we say “video” games, begin.

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