On Sunday, Nov. 25, New York Jets fans were greeted by video game stations as they entered MetLife Stadium. David Echevarria—the national “Madden NFL 18” champion—and other top gamers interacted with excited crowds who got to test their skills against the professionals. A Madden Challenge was even held on field during halftime.

It was all part of the very first eSports Day at MetLife—and the event happened to be the brainchild of a student team from the NYU School of Professional Studies.

eSports Day screen and stage.

The idea took form during the spring 2018 semester in the SPS class “New York Jets Real World,” where marketing students were divided into four teams and asked to come up with pitches for “game day” themes. The curated themes would then be submitted to Jets executives and other professionals, who would consider the proposals based on feasibility and the interests of their fan base.

Three students being interviewed outside at MetLife Stadium.

The winning students—Avi Agarwal, Marco Flores, Giovanni Padilla, and Jesse Saperstein—knew they needed to look no further than the activity that their friends talked about most. “Our generation is part of the whole gaming craze,” notes Agarwal, who adds: “We felt like bridging the two ideas would be great.” It was so well-received that the Jets chose to feature the event during their Thanksgiving Sunday game against the rival New England Patriots.

Outside MetLife Stadium.

Professor David Hollander, who teaches sports management and other “Real World” courses, says that because the stakes are real for his class projects, students gain skills that they will use immediately upon graduating and throughout their careers as industries evolve.

“We are training students for jobs that have not been invented yet, for industries yet to be created,” Hollander says.

Three students playing video games at MetLife Stadium.

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