New Mexico is joining a number of other states in allowing high schools to officially sponsor varsity e-sports. For e-sports, participants can skip the weight room and head straight for the computer lab.
E-sports are video game competitions. At least six other states — Rhode Island, Illinois, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Georgia — allow students to compete in e-sports as an official high school varsity sport.
Anna Wiernicki reports e-sports enthusiasts think their sport is headed for the big time—including major college teams, college scholarships, and (of course) the opportunity to go pro.
Anna Wiernicki: high school senior Benjamin Malek’s after school routine is like many students—getting the team together and going to practice.
Anna Wiernicki: but this team doesn’t compete on the field…they compete on screen…
Benjamin Malek says, “There are some online tournaments, there are some tournaments that we will go to.
Anna Wiernicki: eight states have recognized competitive video game playing, also known as e-sports, as an official high school varsity sport…but Malek’s high school in Maryland is not one of them…so instead, he comes here to “the game gym.”
“I coach about 5 kids.”
Anna Wiernicki: a private gaming club where students can compete and hire a private coach like Samuel Tebi. “Getting down to the nitty-gritty of each game, getting the x’s and o’s.”
Players say esports opens the door for more students to participate. Because there are fewer physical requirements.
Josh Hafkin: you don’t need to be 6′ 8” to play video games. You can be male, female, short, tall, it doesn’t really matter.”
Founder of the game gym Josh Hafkin says he expects every high school will log on to esports in the next 3 to 5 years.
But first, high schools will have to convince some of e-sports toughest critics—mom and dad.
Hafkin says, “I hope that parents treat video gaming a little bit more as an opportunity to learn than just a waste of time.”
Anna Wiernicki: sports management professor Lisa Neiroitti agrees. She says especially if high schools require esports players to maintain good grades to stay on the team…
Lisa Neirotti says, “So they are going to be a more well-rounded individual by joining an e-sport team.”
Anna Wiernicki: and esports may even open doors for students after high school. Right now, more thirty US colleges and universities offer scholarships for gamers.