Esports is a booming industry, and continues to rise in popularity amongst HBCU students. While some HBCUs are beginning to offer esports programs, companies like Gillette are forming partnerships with HBCU organizations to ensure they are supporting access too.

Photo courtesy of University of South Florida

Grooming brand Gillette has partnered with the a new esports league madded just for HBCU students, The Yard: HBCU Esports Alliance (HEA), and CSL sports. In the partnership, named “Groomed to Game,” HBCU students will be supported in entering the esports and gaming industry, a predominantly white ecosystem where there they are often the most underrepresented group.

According to their recent press release, Gillette will provide overall support to HEA/CSL’s growing platform that includes 20 member HBCUs and a recent partnership with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).

“HBCU students are playing video games daily but are not a part of the broader esports and gaming ecosystems. Gillette’s partnership will provide support to help educate them on how to engage and advance in many aspects,” stated Rod Chappell, General Manager/Associate Commissioner of HEA and CEO of HBCU Direct in Atlanta, GA. “As they learn to stream and broadcast, Gillette will also help them feel confident by being well-groomed on camera.”

Photo courtesy of  The Yard: HBCU Esports Alliance / CSL Esports/ Gillette

Students from HEA member schools will play EA SPORTS Madden NFL 21 during the league season, beginning in February, for a chance to win scholarships and prizes from Gillette. Matchups will be played in Madden’s ‘The Yard’ mode that features a ‘Gillette Style Zone’ which allows gamers to customize their avatar’s facial hair and hairstyle in the game. In addition to supporting HEA league competition, Gillette will support the HEA and CSL as they work closely with HBCUs to provide students education about the esports and gaming industry and access to opportunities within it.

“Our partnership with HEA will allow Gillette to support the nation’s HBCUs and help provide access to the esports ecosystem that hasn’t existed previously,” said Greg Via, vice president of sports and esports at Gillette. “Gillette is dedicated to helping men look and feel their best, and with the ‘Groomed to Game’ initiative we aim to help HBCU students feel prepared to bring their ‘A’ game each and every day.” 

Gillette is a long-standing esports and gaming supporter, as one of the first non-endemic brands to get involved in the space. Throughout the ‘Groomed to Game’ initiative, Gillette will feature its SkinGuard razor that was specifically designed to help men whose skin is prone to razor bumps and irritation, a shaving concern particularly prevalent among Black men.