Ready or not, competitive video gaming at Oregon high schools is coming and being treated the same as sports such as baseball, basketball and football.
“It builds connections because you might not have much common ground outside other than maybe a class or two together,” said Madras junior Lincoln Delamarter about playing in an after-school video game club.
“Being able to do this after school and then see them after class, it’s like you’re meeting up with one of your buddies. It’s nice. It’s heartwarming.”
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Close to 30 students participate daily and play in tournaments at Madras High School, once or twice a week.
The club runs through Esports. If you’re good enough, you can win more than just bragging rights.
“There are over 200 colleges that currently offer Esports scholarships,” said English teacher and Esports coach at Madras High School Beau Herman.
Teams also have a chance to win money to be used for college or trade school.
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Now, Esports clubs around the state are leveling up. The Oregon School Activities Association officially partnered with Esports, which means gaming is an officially sanctioned sport.
“The coolest thing that we are hearing from other states is that it has allowed them to reach a segment of their student population that they are not reaching in their current student populations,” said OSAA Director Peter Webber.
Like sports on the field or a court, club participants at Madras High are held to academic standards to participate.
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One freshman says it’s already inspired him to get his grades up.
“If I don’t have my grades up I won’t be able to go in there,” said Trayson Adams. “If I have my grades up, I will go in there.”
To some, it may look like students aren’t learning much from playing video games, but to Herman, there’s more than what meets the eye.
“They build that teamwork that kids normally wouldn’t get if they aren’t playing a team sport, working on their communication, just building some confidence in them as well,” said Herman.
Teams will be able to compete in multiple popular video game titles like Super Smash Bros and League Of Legends.
The Esports 2022-2023 season will officially start next spring.
“It brings everyone together more, being able to not only play video games together but play against other schools. It feels like you really are a team,” said Delamarter.
To show just how much Esports are becoming a key in college life, here’s a piece from WDBJ on how a university in Virginia is growing Esports participation.