There are many teenagers who wish they could join a school club centered on playing video games. Lawrence Woodmere Academy students now have that opportunity.
The private nonsectarian Woodmere school has introduced an Esports team. The team will compete in the High School Esports League, which consists of roughly 2,000 schools and 50,000 students across the United States. The league will track the gaming results.
Esports is defined as organized and competitive video game playing. Tournaments are held around the world for video games that involve a money prize. Gamers faceoff against competitors playing the same video game and tournaments can involve team or individual competition.
According to the website, superdataresearch.com, roughly $750 million was invested into Esports in 2017. Projections expect Esports to be a $2 billion business by 2022. In comparison the National Football League’s 32 teams shared $8.78 billion in 2018. Esports has existed for roughly 15 years; the NFL is a century old. Professional sports leagues such as the National Basketball Association have a joint partnership with Take-Two Interactive on an Esports league focused on the NBA 2K video game series.
LWA’s Admissions Coordinator Justin Mahabir is the team’s adviser. “We had 37 students show up at the initial meeting for the team,” Mahabir said. “The only other time that I’ve seen that many students in one place was a sporting event.”
According to LWA’s Director of Admissions, Luke Davis, the current plan is for the team to meet once a week in the school’s refurbished technology space. The students will also play video games off campus, usually at home. Some of the games students have expressed interest in include: Minecraft, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros. “Molloy College is holding an Overwatch tournament in November,” Davis said. “We’d like to participate in that but we’re still determining if we’ll have enough students in the tournament.”
LWA’s interim Head of School, Mary Barton noted why the Esports team was created. “We always want to ensure that there’s an opportunity for all of our students,” Barton said. “So our students expressed in interest in Esports and we always want to provide them with an outlet to participate in their interests.”
Davis noted the opportunities for students in Esports go beyond high school. “We hope that this team will get our students exposed to colleges that offer Esports,” Davis said.
Colleges across the U.S. are now offering scholarships for Esports. The National Association of Collegiate Esports is a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 that seeks to support collegiate institutions with scholarships for Esports. According to NACE, there are more than 170 colleges in the country that have a varsity Esports team and there is $16 million in scholarships.
“I think the Esports team will help create a bond with students outside the classroom,” Davis said. “Before the team was formed, students weren’t aware that they were interested in the same video game.”