Esports is a varsity sport? It’s true. These teams and leagues are being taken just as seriously as traditional sports with hundreds of US high schools participating in competitions. Some students are even receiving scholarships to play at the college level.
Esports and Conventional Sports
Esports leagues are designed to facilitate competition between schools and league organizations. Matches can be played anywhere with an internet connection, making arranging games between schools that aren’t geographically close easy. Streaming services like Twitch allow esports matches to be broadcast and viewed from any location, helping schools raise money for their esports programs.
High School Esports
High school esports competitions are available across a wide range of video games. The High School Esports League supports competition for these competitive online games:
- League of Legends
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive
- Rocket League
- Rainbow Six: Siege
- Super Smash Bros.
- Dragon Ball FighterZ
Many schools are finding esports clubs promote student engagement.
Mason Mullenioux, co-founder and CEO at the High School Esports League, tells Parentology, “A high school esports program is a magnet for a cohort of students who might otherwise be less engaged with school. In fact, we recently surveyed our teacher sponsors, and the most common reason given for sponsoring a high school esports program at their school was to provide an activity to students who otherwise might have been excluded.”
Dalton Hawkins, advisor for the two-year-old esports team at Sandpoint High School in Idaho, tells Parentology he’s witnessed the same phenomenon. His team grew from 10 students to 30 from the first year to the second, and he expects an even better turnout next season.
“Some of the biggest impacts have been social interactions. We have a few kids that people might think of when they think of gamers, but we also have traditional sport varsity athletes, and now these typically separate groups have a common bond.”
A growing number of universities are offering esports programs, as well as scholarships. Among them:
- Miami University (OH)
- UC Irvine
- Boise State University
- University of Utah
- Georgia State University
These teams are already generating significant revenue for their respective schools. Mullenioux reports the High School Esports League alone has facilitated more than $15 million in college scholarships.
While current high school esports programs are limited to a select set of schools around the country, that number is expected to grow as competitive gaming becomes increases in popularity. A good thing, too, as careers in esports are on the rise, bringing with them the possibility of lucrative salaries.