High School eSports: Why and How

High school can, for some, be the best time of one’s life. For others, it can be quite the opposite. Schools offer many extracurricular activities such as speech and debate, film club, newspaper, DECA, yearbook committee, and a wide range of various sports. It’s said that students who join an extracurricular activity in high school often have a better time in high school altogether. Extracurricular’s correlate with higher standardized test scores, higher attendance, and more adept social skills. But what about Esports in high schools?

In more recent years, things like media coverage, franchising, public interest, and popularity of games have all contributed to a higher fanbase in esports. More people are watching, playing, and talking about esports now than ever before. Even colleges have begun to put together their own campus funded esports teams. More recently, however, has been the rise of high school esports teams. And no, I’m not just talking about a couple of kids from a few high schools making their own team and playing ranked as I did in my high school playing days, I’m talking about genuine, school funded and registered esports teams, a real extracurricular.

The Why

The why is relatively simple. Competitive esports build a lot of the same skills that athletic sports do, minus the athleticism. eSports takes a tremendous amount of team building and coordination, as well as planning, practice, and communication skills. There are even recent studies that show video games may improve cognitive abilities altogether. In essence, esports is a much as a sport as football and soccer, it just takes refines a different set of muscles.

Many defenders of eSports claim that gaming, in general, can help develop one’s social skills and teamwork abilities. Many people that propose an esports team to their high school argue that esports help to establish a better understanding with one another and helps students get ahead in the real world by opening them up to the concept of collaboration. Another significant point that defenders use is that eSports teams open up a route for another demographic to be representing and better known by the school and their peers.

Another big aspect of the esports community is the diversity within it. Playing games competitively can be a relatively cheap venture for a young student, and most students today already own some sort of system already. The range of games to play competitively is virtually endless, considering just how many games are being played right now competitively. A student can find their own little niche of gaming where they both excel and feel comfortable in.

With esports gaining a foot as a profession, almost as much so as the athletic sports industry, what’s the harming in high schools starting an esports team?

The How

There are many routes one could take to open their school up to the idea of an eSports team. Some school systems have started their own league between different high schools in that system to play against each other. Others have created just one team and taken to playing online. Recently, actual high school leagues have been on the rise, one such being The Highschool Esports League, that hosts a bunch of school from all across North America. The process to join the league is quite simple; first a student must get a teacher or administrator to sponsor their team, second, there’s a small fee for each player to play in each season, about $20 per player. This league offers a wide range of benefits such as scholarships, player tracking, premium tournaments, and twitch partnerships.

From what I understand, much of the funding that goes into the high school esports teams comes from the IT departments, which makes sense. Considering how much money falls into sports teams by high schools each year, the price to start an esports team is comparable. It would cost much less to the school to start an esports team. Considering most students interested in starting an esports team would already have their own systems, it most likely wouldn’t be necessary for schools to buy systems, or if they had to, it would only be a few. The price to join teams is relatively low for the school to cover, and even if they couldn’t, it wouldn’t be hard for a student to pay that price either. Eventually, a school could be awaEsports in High Schools: Why and Howrded grants or sponsorships from companies in the same way that many other clubs and sports do.

The organization of esports teams is also another significant aspect of the how. Before proposing the idea of an esports team in your school you first have got to figure out what kind of game or games you’re going to be playing, How many players you’re going to need to be able to qualify, and which teacher or administrator is going to oversee the team itself.

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