After the successful completion of an extensive pilot programme in 2017, Connecticut will become the first US state to offer eSports to its high school and college students. It’s clear that a whole new generation of eSports enthusiasts is being born and bred and that the future of competitive gaming looks bright.
This comes as the eSports industry – which sees players compete in a wide range of games via a virtual computer interface – continues on its exponential growth trajectory. Meanwhile, concerns are being raised about whether current school curricula and extramural activities have become out dated. For the Connecticut Association of Schools, tapping into the booming eSports phenomenon is the perfect way to cater to diverse student interests and create opportunities for professional development in this highly lucrative industry.
Spin Palace Sports takes a look at exactly how the State intends to go about implementing this revolutionary idea and the impact that this will have on students, both now and in the future.
Deal with the EGF
Although the concept of eSports offered in high schools is not new in Connecticut (StarLeague’s League of Legends tournament undoubtedly blazed the trail), this latest development on the subject is its most significant thus far: the Connecticut Association of Schools has officially partnered with the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) to turn this abstract idea into a concrete reality.
Under this deal, any high school or university student within state lines can register online to compete in the state-wide tournament, which will begin in the spring of 2018. The 2018 tournament will be based on that of the 2017 pilot programme, which featured 15 Connecticut school districts (leading up to a state championship event hosted at the University of Connecticut) and enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response.
New Opportunities Abound
The ultimate plan for the Connecticut school eSports league is to create something comparable to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that governs other school and university sports. By thus legitimising eSports as an activity with potential for lifelong benefit, EGF and Connecticut Association of Schools hope to create the maximum possible benefits for students who pursue this avenue.
In the pilot tournament, the University of Connecticut went so far as to offer the winning player an academic scholarship. If scholarships like this become as common as football scholarships, going out for eSports could become a very smart move for ambitious students with big dreams of success after graduation.
Whilst eSports may seem like mindless pursuits to the uninitiated, the deal between the EGF and Connecticut Association of Schools hopes to develop the very real skills required for eSports success and then to transfer them to other academic areas.
According to the supervisor of the Innovation, Personalized Learning, and Magnet Program at Connecticut’s New London Public Schools, Clint Kennedy, eSports “challenge our young people to collaborate, think critically, and engage persistently, even in the face of repeated failure, to achieve some level of success towards a desired goal. I see many popular eSports titles as a way to build these critical skills in hopes that we can then transfer them to other domains”.
With the youth always the fastest to cotton onto technological innovations, the eSports industry is increasingly becoming dominated by high school and college students. Turning this aptitude and passion into a directed pursuit with real-world benefits seems like the next logical step.
Lucrative Career Prospects
The opportunities afforded by eSports in schools go far beyond college scholarships. The eSports industry is already a US$ 260 million business and looks set to surpass the US$ billion mark by 2020. Clearly, anyone who imagines that a career in this field would be a dead end is dead wrong.
This partnership aims to both develop the sport as a whole and provide young people with the opportunity to become professional eSports players.
The EGF has already made it known that it is investigating the potential for similar partnerships in other US states and cities. Connecticut won’t be alone at the eSports table for long.