After Controversy and Brief Suspensions, Navy’s Official Esports Team Is Up and Running

Seven enlisted sailors and a naval flight officer have been selected to serve on the Navy‘s official esports team, a new outreach effort in which video game enthusiasts can learn more about the service.

The Goats & Glory esports team is again livestreaming with its first group of permanently selected members. The team will operate out of Navy Recruiting Command’s headquarters in Tennessee, where they’re expected to open a new facility in 2021 that can host esports events.

“We did have a few initial startup issues and small hurdles, but we are in a good spot now with esports,” said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, head of Navy Recruiting Command.

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Velez selected the members of the team, he said in an interview this month. Sailors streaming on the Navy’s Twitch channel, where users can chat with them as they play video games, previously did it part-time and from locations across the fleet.

The program was paused twice before the Navy assembled its permanent team. In September, one sailor was removed from Goats & Glory after friends of his were found to be using racist screen names while he streamed from the Navy’s official channel.

About two months earlier, the team stopped streaming to attend additional training after the members were inundated with questions from users about war crimes and other scandals. The Navy team began blocking some of the users — a move Velez has previously defended.

The Army and Air Force also have esports teams. The Army’s team also stopped streaming earlier this year when users began asking its members about war crimes.

The military has faced criticism for using Twitch, including from New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also livestreams on Twitch. The congresswoman said she is concerned young kids would be targeted by military recruitment ads.

Even though the Navy’s team falls under Recruiting Command, officials say it’s more of an outreach than recruiting tool — a place for sailors to talk about their jobs and lifestyle with viewers who might not know much about serving in uniform.

Now that the Navy’s Goats & Glory team will be housed in one location, Velez said there will be better oversight.

“This is going to allow us to set up a schedule that is easy to follow so we know when they’re going to be streaming and where they’re going to be streaming,” he said. “It allows us to support [the team] better with more training … and a military facility that will have the tools they’ll need to execute the mission.”

— Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: As Military Recruiters Embrace Esports, Marine Corps Says it Won’t Turn War into a Game

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