149: All About E-sports

Photo by Ye Fang Kuang via Flickr

Competitive video gaming may be coming soon to a school near you.

E-sports  (short for “electronic sports”) is a $900 million dollar global industry. In South Korea, top video game players are household names, and matches are televised. Here in the United States, more than 80 colleges and universities, including Kent State and the University of California – Berkeley, now offer esports scholarships. High schools are getting in on the action too.

In October 2018, the National Federation of State High School Associations — the same organization that promotes interscholastic sports and performing arts activities — launches its first-ever eSports season; six different states hosted their first-ever state video game championships in January 2019. In February, another season of high school esports kicks off, with three additional states joining in on the fun.

To many parents and grandparents, the idea of video games as a sport sounds, well, ridiculous. But coaches and players say that esports have a lot more in common with football, basketball and soccer than you may think.

The real benefit of school sports, most people know, is that they teach teamwork, discipline and camaraderie. Few high school football players will go on to play football after high school, but the lessons learned on the field linger. So do the relationships players develop with their coaches and teammates.

The same holds true for competitive video gamers. Like other athletes, they must learn how to communicate effectively and how to best use the strengths of each person on the team. They must learn how to control their emotions and assess and respond to an ever-changing environment. They gain a sense of pride and connection.

In fact, there a lot of good reasons to say yes to esports:

  • Kids thrive when they connect with other kids who share their passions
  • Esports teams are under the supervision of a coach during practices and meets (rather than spending dozens of unsupervised hours playing video games)
  • Esports fall under school athletic policies, so competitors must meet academic eligibility requirements and adhere to behavioral standards
  • Anyone can compete in eSports. Size and strength aren’t a plus or a minus, and mixed gender teams are common. (Check out this awesome Microsoft commercial, which illustrates how adaptive controllers break down barriers by allowing kids of all abilities to play together.)
  • Most schools already have the equipment necessary to participate in eSports
  • There’s almost no travel involved (especially when compared to other sports!)
In this episode,  Janet & Jen discuss:
  • What esports are
  • How — and why — esports can benefit video game-loving boys, especially non-athletic boys who don’t feel connected to school
  • What parents & teachers need to know about esports & competitive video gaming
  • The similarities between esports & traditional sports
  • What kids can learn from esports
Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 149:

Video Games are the New Competitive Sport in Schools — Jen’s article about esports

Griffin’s Chovy on His Ridiculous KDA of 104 & The Strength of His Team — ESPN article (yes, an ESPN article!) about a competitive League of Legends player

Which Schools Offer eSports Scholarships

How to Start a High School Esports League & Benefit Your

Got a competitive gamer in your life? Leave us a message! We’d love to interview him on in upcoming episode.