Esports is booming, from K-12 right on up to college and at the professional level. As more districts start K-12 esports leagues of their own, the academic and social-emotional benefits become increasingly clear.
Roughly a year and a half ago, leaders in the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District (GCISD) in Texas, which has been 1:1 for 8 years, noticed the growing esports trend at the collegiate level. The district was already partnered with Dell for technology initiatives, prompting Kyle Bergerr, the district’s chief technology officer, to look a bit closer at esports’ relevance at the K-12 level.
“I felt like high school was about to explode in this,” he says. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, he adds, there are four professional esports teams, leading lots of momentum to build around esports at the high school level.
“Is our job in education to prepare kids for the future–an unknown future? Can we do everything we can to help them get to the collegiate level? This was an untapped area,” Berger says. “We wanted to get a pipeline of kids into college for esports, just like athletics.”
Last fall, the district surveyed students to gauge their interest in esports. Based on that survey, about 50 percent of students said they might be interested. When all was said and done, Berger had 75 esports athletes between the district’s two high schools. Athletes were divided into teams and played games such as League of Legends and Rocket League.