Esports, eSports, or E-sports...No matter how you write it, Esports is growing across the world. I didn’t understand how big it truly was until I was searching for scores in my ESPN app and happened upon this Esports category. A quick search on the Internet returns a plethora of article about what Esports is and just how important it is becoming to schools around the world. Wisconsin is included in this list and currently has over 20 school teams throughout the state belonging to the Wisconsin High School Esports Conference. Plans are in place to expand this number next year as this category continues to gain exposure and popularity.
James O’Hagan (Racine Unified School District) was a leader in bringing Esports to the state of Wisconsin. He has seen the positive impact on and the inclusion of all students, especially those that do not compete in traditional school sports. Mike Dahle (Arrowhead High School) is also a strong proponent for Esports as well as the impact on all students. Both men have spent countless hours gathering resources and creating buy-in across the state. James has created a blog to draw on connections between the skills students obtain in gaming and the ISTE/Wisconsin ITL standards. Esports focuses not just on gaming but also on relationship building, sportsmanship, computer science, visual and cinematic arts (Twitch), athletics, and engineering. These are the skills students need to be college and career ready.
Still not sold?!? More colleges and universities are recognizing the growth of Esports and offering scholarships to students who participate at the collegiate level. They are seeing the benefit of including these students and how it leads to increased enrollment in related programs of study. And, according to a recent Washington Post article, teams are opening training facilities that will ‘provide organized environments and structure to support their players and staff. The goal is to not only improve the caliber of current players and develop prospects into future pros but also instill a culture of professionalism to a group of players used to operating on their own from remote locations or in team houses in which players both work and reside.’ Seems a lot like the training facilities of other, traditional, professional sports teams!
If your school is looking to redefine the 4Cs (creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking) of education, Esports may be the opportunity to begin down that path. Check out the Wisconsin High School Esports Conference webpage for more information and to find out how to get started.