- Why get hot, sweaty and possibly injured playing high school football if you can get a college scholarship controlling players on a virtual gridiron? That might be a question that students are beginning to ask themselves now that competitive video gaming is finding a place in high schools across the country.
- A recent Chicago Tribune article took readers inside a League of Legends tournament hosted by Robert Morris University and featuring a team from Oswego East High School, which formed in 2015.
- Educators at the school say esports are giving students a reason to keep their grades up, and whether or not people agree that gaming is a sport, officials with the Illinois High School Association say esports could become a sanctioned activity in the next few years.
Last month, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which writes rules for high school sports and activities, and the NFHS Network, which broadcasts games and events, announced a partnership with PlayVS, the official high school esports league, to organize competitions across 15 states beginning this fall. The competitions will culminate in state championship games played before a live audience and streamed online, as well.
“As schools look to provide participation opportunities for high school students, esports is a great option on two fronts,” Mark Koski, CEO of the NFHS Network, said in a press release. “First, esports may involve students who haven’t been involved in a sport or activity in the past. Second, the costs to implement esports are minimal compared to starting a traditional sport, which can be extensive with equipment and facilities.”
The statement also pointed to the college and career opportunities associated with esports, noting that almost 200 colleges — with their own varsity esports teams — now actively recruit and provide scholarships for esports players and that their skills are in demand in the gaming industry. Last year, an official with the Paris Olympic committee suggested gaming might even become a medal event at the 2024 games — perhaps for some of today’s middle school students.
With gaming shown to be an effective way to help some students learn and clear connections to STEM skills, schools now have another way for students to be successful.