Okay, okay, out of the gate, I’ll be honest. This is THE FIRST Esports post on k12techpro.com. And, in sticking with the honesty, it’s a little bit of filler just to get us started.
THE EXPO and our beginnings
I work at a school district in Missouri. For 3 years now, we’ve had an Esports program at our high school. Also for 3 years now, we’ve hosted an Esports Expo at our high school. It’s a great time for our high school, surrounding schools, and the community to see what Esports is all about. We run it alongside a “technology job fair,” where we invite businesses to set up tables and be able to talk about their business and technology-related positions. While students are checking out Esports, they are also visiting the job fair. It’s a big win. Counselors love it. We also have colleges with Esports attend with a table just the same. We’ve even had Esports students score scholarships from the expo because of a college that visited with them. Did I mention counselors love it? Having our school and the surrounding schools meet up at the expo has been a cool way to get school rivalry going as well with the Esports program – Your school might be in Missouri and be able to whip up on some other school in Texas, that’s cool, but it’s still real cool to whip up on the neighbor school. Anyway, I’ve talked about this a few times on the pod. Also a little bit of information can be found on the Ridge Events website.
Why Esports in school? I can give you three answers.
1) Social skills. Ever heard a parent say “All my kid does is play video games and he never gets out of the house?” While a true statement, that kid may be playing a video game that requires teamwork, communication, and social skills. With Esports in school, students will be trained, taught, and encouraged to be team players and to communicate well. These are skills for life!
2) Academics. Esports, like other sports and other afterschool activities, requires students to maintain particular grades, attendance, GPA, and good discipline. Want to be on the Esports team? Make good grades. Want to play that game at school? Attend! Want to be a captain on the Esports team? Don’t have discipline issues.
3) College scholarship opportunities. Yes, it’s true. Students can get scholarships because of Esports. We’ve had it a couple of times now at our school. I’ve also heard a parent say “All my kid does is play video games, I don’t get it, but hey, he got a college scholarship for it!”
I don’t believe Esports is a trend. I don’t think it’s going away. At some point in time some people thought it was cool to shoot a ball into a hoop and call it a sport. At some point in time some people thought it was cool to hit a ball with a stick and see how far it would go and if it could go into a hole in the ground. People love watching basketball. People love watching golf. There is money in basketball and golf (and the long list of other mainstream sports, of course). Just the same, people love playing and watching video games, and there is money to be made and spent in it. Colleges have noticed this. Businesses and big companies have noticed this. Esports is here to stay! In K-12, I believe we should recognize this, embrace it, and stay relevant.
Where to Start
That said, I realize we are 3 years in, but Esports is still new and the question still comes up often – How can I start an Esports team at my school? Rather than unpack much of that with my own words and experiences in this particular article, I’m going to share some great resources about getting started from the latest expo. We’ll be posting more articles concerning all things Esports down the road and will unpack more and more as we go.
With the expo, we try to help other schools with their Esports programs. In particular, this year, we did two Zoom meetings. One with Tony from MOSEF (Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation). If you don’t know what MOSEF is and you are in Missouri, check out their website. And one with Bytespeed (Bytespeed sells gaming computers, among other things). Both videos were recorded and have some GREAT content about how to get started with Esports at your school. If you are asking how to get started with an Esports team at your school, I’d recommend the STEP ONE being to watch both of these videos and check out the slides: