Back to school, back to gaming: Chanhassen Parks and Recreation announces new

After the cancellation of much of its fall and winter programming, the Chanhassen Parks and Recreation Department is starting a new league — “esports.”

The international industry has made its way to Chanhassen, where the city will partner with Blaze Fire Games to create multiple esports teams for ages 7 and up. Interested gamers can register online to play Super Mario Smash Bros, Rocket League, FIFA Soccer, NFL Madden Football or NBA2K with others in their area and age group to win prizes.

“It’s a different world for us. We like to see you in person, on our fields, our facilities. But this is a great way to reach people with different skill sets and interests and provide remote activities during COVID-19,” said Recreation Center Manager Jodi Sarles.


Esports is a form of sport competition based around multiplayer video games. Professionals and casual gamers can participate in organized competitions as individuals or in a team, where they battle other players in video game genres such as multiplayer online battle arenas (like League of Legends), first-person shooters (Call of Duty) and battle royales (Fortnite).

The majority of esport competitions are based in Asia Pacific, but the sport is quickly growing in popularity across the globe — in 2019 alone, the sport generated $1.3 billion in revenue.

While there’s some negative stereotypes around gaming and screen time, modern video games can actually encourage social interaction and teamwork among all ages, explained Blaze Fire Games’ CEO Isiah Reese. Multiplayer games help kids stay connected with friends, which is particularly useful during COVID-19.

Playing professional esports can also lead to some major opportunities, Reese added. Just like “regular” sports, over 200 colleges and universities offer scholarships for esports, and several states have approved dual enrollment programs that allow K-12 students to play for credit.

Another unexpected positive? The anonymity of most video games levels the playing field — when all you see is a gamer tag (your name in-game), it doesn’t matter who is behind the screen, he said.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what color you are, your gender, your age … you’re part of a safe and secure community and can have fun,” Reese said.


Adults can sign their kids (or themselves) up for a team in their age range, then pick up to three of the five games — Super Mario Smash Bros, Rocket League, FIFA Soccer, NFL Madden Football and NBA2K — to play competitively. The games are not included in the $75 fee.

Players will participate in three competitions per week, per game for five weeks and can pick when they play. The flexibility ensures that kids won’t have to play at odd…

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