Note to parents: All those hours your kids spend blazing a trail of destruction in video games may not be a complete waste of time, after all.

A small private university in Chicago is offering hefty scholarship for players of one game in particular, League of Legends, which has become one of the most popular games for organised team competitions.

Robert Morris University Illinois announced its new programme this month and said it recognised the growing legitimacy of what are known as “eSports.” The school says it also wants to give credit to those with a competitive spirit who do not necessarily want to play traditional sports such as basketball or football.

Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher, who will be in charge of the school’s new varsity eSports programme, said on Friday that he expected a certain amount of surprise and attention, but was surprised by just how much feedback he was getting.

“It’s interesting. There’s two sides: There’s the gamers side, who feel like they have been vindicated or liberated,” he said. “Then there’s the hardcore athletes side, who say, ‘What do you mean? That’s not a sport.’”

Melcher said League of Legends was a competitive game that demanded team strategy and mental prowess, and spending money to recruit the best would deliver the types of committed students who are drawn by scholarships for traditional sports. – Sapa-AP