School Districts Launches One-of-a-Kind Esports League

The early days of gaming at school

Remember when video games were just starting to make their way out onto the playground at school? Everyone would gather under the shade of a nearby tree or structure and watch their classmate play one of the classic games. Questions were asked and quickly answered about the amazing machines and usually consisted of where can I get one, or what are you playing? It was a magical time in the world of video games, but it was only the start.

Whether it was the Nintendo Game Boy that was super portable and home to the Pokémon franchise or the Sega game gear, which touted Sonic as their mascot, you were having a fun time. So fun of a time in fact that teachers often had to confiscate the games and give them back at the end of the day due to how distracting they were.

Esports leagues becoming common at school?

FastForward to 2020 however and a lot of has changed. Not only have video games become a mainstay on campuses in one form or another, but it has also prompted the beginning of organized video game leagues. That’s right! Move over Friday night football, Fortnite, Overwatch, and League of Legends can all eventually become organized sports at school as well.

In fact, one school district in Florence South Carolina has launched an esports league, which will allow schools to play each other in various gaming tournaments. The games will take place in a state-of-the-art facility at the Poynor education building. The facility comes complete with 12 gaming stations for teams to use, 40 spectator seats for fans and a studio for broadcasting teams.

Superintendent, Dr. Richard O’Malley, believes the move will give students that aren’t otherwise interested in sports activities a chance to represent their school positively. He also has hopes of the events being able to one day compete with that of High School Football or Basketball, which would be interesting to see with how popular video games and esports are right now.

“The popularity of sports and performing arts in our nation’s schools has been a constant as long as we can remember and the COVID-19 pandemic has made even more people aware of the importance of these programs for our students,” O’Malley said. “eSports is growing in popularity all over the country and we are seeing a significant growth in the number of student eSports groups who want to represent their respective high schools, the same way traditional sports teams do. “

The benefits of having Esport leagues in school

The idea to do High school esports came about when F16 director, Wyatt Howle, was coaching a recreational esports league in Florence and saw the positivity it had on the community. Furthermore, he went on to say that esports did a great job of filling the void left by the absence of regular sports when the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Another thing that Howle states during the press release is the fact that video games are so good at transcending social barriers and getting everyone involved in the action. He hopes this will result in more people feeling connected to their school and give them more of a sense of community on the same level as the football or Basketball team

“At pretty much any high school you will probably find a kid who is pretty smart but they just don’t care because they don’t have anything to tie them there,” Howle said. “You give them a community, somewhere they have a group of peers where they can succeed, and you tie maintaining a GPA to being able to continue doing that, I think you will really start seeing those kids be good students.”

Is this the future of Esports?

While it is unknown whether esports will be able to draw the same level of attention as other traditional sports, it is nice that High school districts are starting to look at esports as a way to build a better community. It is also very refreshing to see a district so eager to try something new and outside of the box, which could eventually lead to esports becoming a mainstay of an average High School experience.

In the end, the future of esports looks bright, especially since media outlets are predicting it will become a billion-dollar industry and it’s going to be interesting to see how things go. It will also be very interesting to see how kids react to having this new positive experience in their lives and where it goes from here.