Why esports is surging into another school year

High School Esports League's free curriculum can help schools launch teams
By: | September 19, 2019
Studies are showing that students who play high school esports spend less time playing video games at home and also improve their grades and attendance.Studies are showing that students who play high school esports spend less time playing video games at home and also improve their grades and attendance.

High school esports and middle school esports remain wildly popular as the new school year begins.

In North Dakota, 14 high school esports teams across the state are competing in the first season of a new esports league, The Bismarck Tribune reports.

High school esports motivates an “underrepresented population” of students to participate in school activities, Mandan Public School District Superintendent Mike Bitz told the Tribune.

DATV video: Watch tech-ready esports teams in action

The Virginia High School League has approved a one-year pilot of competitive esports, WTOP reports. Teams will compete in League of Legends, Rocket League and SMITE, and schools can enter multiple teams for each game, the station reports.

In Alaska, more than 60 high schools have jumped on a waitlist to compete in a varsity esports league being planned by the Alaska Schools Activities Association and provider PlayVS, KTVF reports.

To help schools launch esports programs, a free curriculum is now available from the High School Esports League and Microsoft. The HSEL Gaming Concepts curriculum, developed by a principal and a teacher in Kansas, teaches college-and-career skills and social-emotional learning. The curriculum covers self-advocacy, personal and social behaviors, interpersonal communication, fluency in technology, and strategy development.

More from DA: How esports students develop healthier tech habits

District leaders, particularly CIOs, can follow several strategies to launch and maintain esports teams with the proper technologyDistrict Administration reported this summer. K-12 esports pioneers shared recommendations for hardware, software, bandwidth and digital security.

And students who took a first-of-its-kind esports class at Complete High School Maize near Wichita, Kansas, spent less time playing video games at home. Students also improved  attendance and boosted their grades above the school average.

Coming at FETC: Esports sessions for K-12 administrators

“It helps students understand gaming at a higher level—not just playing games, but the impact it has on them and their peers,” Steve Jaworski, head of strategic partnerships for the High School Esports League, told DA.

Esports appeal to students who may not be captivated by existing extracurricular activities, esports pioneer Donald Wettrick, a teacher at Noblesville High School in the Indianapolis suburbs, told DA last year.

“It serves an underserved community—the average kid on the esports team will probably not be a football, basketball or hockey player,” Wettrick said. “It serves a very creative and smart crowd who doesn’t connect well with school.”

More from DA: Why esports in schools is primed to grow ‘bigger than the NFL’

Interested in esports? Keep up with LRP’s Academic Esports Conference.

Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.