Competitive esports may not have achieved the career-goal status of playing in the NBA or the NFL – yet – but it is experiencing eye-popping growth as young people from coast to coast hone their skills in the new sport, in which video games are played competitively.
McClintock High School’s esports program is among 25 nationwide selected by New York-based High School Esports League, North America’s largest and longest-running competitive gaming organization for high school students, to receive state-of-the-art gaming labs as part of its Build an Esports Lab Campaign.
A High School Esports League crew was scheduled to visit McClintock on March 24 to set up the free esports lab as part of its 25-stop, coast-to-coast HSEL Roadshow. The initiative is sponsored by Intel, the Army National Guard and ASUS, a manufacturer of gaming routers.
McClintock’s esports lab will have six cutting-edge gaming PCs and peripherals with hardware like Intel Core i9-10850K processors, ASUS TUF Gaming Z490-Plus motherboards, Strix GTX 1660 Super GPUs and TUF VG249Q monitors.
Rather than ship out the computers to the winning schools, the HSEL Roadshow goes to them to teach students how to build their brand-new computers in a Build-a-PC STEM experience.
The gaming movement is growing.
Arizona Interscholastic Association, the governing body of high school sports and activities in the state, now sanctions esports and conducts state championships in it just as it does other sports.
Also, the inaugural Fiesta Bowl Esports Showdown for Arizona high school gaming teams is in full swing now with the Final Showdown on April 24. Forty teams entered. Thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes are on the line.
Intercollegiate esports is booming. Colleges now are recruiting gamers, offering scholarships just as they do in football, basketball or baseball, and fielding competitive esports teams.
Esports is a club activity at Arizona State and Grand Canyon universities. ASU club members are in the process of seeking full program status under intercollegiate athletics. At Benedictine University Mesa, esports is part of the regular sports program.
According to C.J. Melendez, public relations director for UberStrategist, a boutique video-game promotion agency, competitive gaming as a career path for young adults is more viable than ever and, similar to traditional sports, future star players make a name for themselves starting at the high school level.
Competitive gaming fosters academic success, teaches college and career-ready skills and builds social skills vital to success for young athletes, according to Melendez.
The High School Esports League has 3,400 partnered schools and 100,000 participating students. HSEL’s programs include college scholarships, diversity, equity and inclusion teachings, gaming concepts curriculum and fundraising assistance.
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