Earlier this fall, Snider High School rolled out the first high school esports program in the area. Now, they’re competing four days a week and already ranked nationally.
At Snider, the students aren’t just ‘playing video games.’ They’re taking it as seriously as playing football or competing in a science fair. For these kids, they aren’t just games. They’re a possible key to their future.
“It’s estimated that there’s $16 million annually available for esports students. And 12 out of the 14 Big Ten schools compete in League of Legends alone.”
Joseph Wilhelm teaches physics and chemistry at Snider, and he also coaches the esports teams at the school. He spoke in September about the benefits of e-sports and how they compare to other, more traditional sports.
“We’re not separating students based on age, gender, geographic location or physical ability. These are a lot of times barriers to traditional sports, but they’re not barriers to our esports students.”
On top of allowing students to find a sport that suits them, regardless of physical ability, esports are a growing industry worldwide. According to a Business Insider report, North America is the second largest esports market.
In 2018, the League of Legends World Championship brought in more viewers than the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four combined. More than 100 colleges and universities offer scholarships in esports.
Wilhelm says it isn’t only about what students can achieve in the future, but also about how they’re doing currently.
“We’ve seen a lot of improvement in our students, like behaviorally and academically, even attendance-wise. Even just since we just announced that we were gonna do esports. So, it really gives them a reason to kind of be motivated to do school. Because a lot of these students don’t have that.”
Wilhelm says we can tell students that school is important, but it’s hard for them to really see it at their age. Knowing what doors esports can open up for them, offers that, while also holding them to high academic standards in order to continue competing.
After three years of planning and with the pandemic throwing a wrench into their plans, Snider’s esports program didn’t begin in earnest until this year, but Wilhelm says they already have over 50 students competing and they’re working to grow the program even more.
The teams began competing at the beginning of October and Wilhelm says they were quickly ranking very high, even early in the season.
“Most of our, what I would call, quote-varsity teams are doing really well. In fact, they’re all undefeated currently.”
One player, Tyrese Ellis, is the captain of the black team for Rocket League. Ellis is a sophomore, but he already holds the highest rank a player can in the game, Grand Champ. Wilhelm says Ellis is close to the number one ranked player in…
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