How to Start an esports Program at Your K-12 School
Now that esport programs seem to be well-established at the university level, they have been growing at the high school level very rapidly over the last couple of years. The High School Sports League (HSEL) reports that the number of schools they represent has increased six-fold, and the organization came into existence only two years ago in 2017.
With all of the excitement out there as well as the possibility of scholarship money for students, more high schools are looking into how to start their own sports programs. Here are a few areas to consider when starting an esports program at your school.
Getting Teachers and Students Involved
The first step in starting an esports program is to get teachers and students on board. Just like any sports programs, esports teams need coaches who have the time and background to help guide the team. A teacher or administrator is also necessary to navigate the application process and register the team, including making any necessary payments.
In terms of student involvement, the HSEL recommends a minimum of five students to start an esports team but says that having at least 10 members is deal. There is no maximum number of participants, but the technology infrastructure and staff support may put limits on the number of students that a school can have in its esports program.
Deciding Who to Partner With
There are a number of esports leagues out there, so schools should do their research before committing to one. Esports leagues differ in a variety of ways, such as geographic coverage, cost, tech support, training for coaches and students, and games played. For example, the North America Scholastic Esports Federation includes schools and community-based organizations from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Getting the Right Technology for Esports
The amount of equipment you will need to purchase will depend on your school’s existing tech infrastructure. Some schools report that students were able to use laptops and connect to the Internet via Wifi while other schools have opted for laptops with Ethernet connections. It may be necessary to increase the capacity of existing school computers by adding extra memory or acquiring better video cards. In addition to a computer and Internet connection, it may be necessary to purchase specialized peripheral equipment for gaming, such as mice, keyboards and headsets. Alternatively, some students prefer to use their own equipment.
Getting Parents on Board
With all of the concern about teenagers becoming addicted to the Internet and online gaming in particular, it may be necessary to present the benefits of esports to parents. Some esports leagues have materials, such as presentations and flyers, that will help you make the argument to parents. In addition, you can point out the skills required to be a successful esports team, such as collaboration, communication, and strategic thinking.
Another argument often given in favor of esports programs is that it gives students who don’t want to participate in traditional sports programs the chance to contribute to their school community and feel proud about their participating in a school-sponsored activity.
Is your school considering starting an esports program? What steps would your school need to take to start an esports program? Let us know!