Esports on the rise in High Schools

This summer’s Fortnite world cup earned 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf, aka “Bugha,” a grand prize of $3 million. The total prize pool for the Overwatch world cup is $488,000. And the winners of the 2018 League of Legends world championship took home $6.4 million.

With these numbers, high schools are taking note of the earning potential esports hold for students, leading them to build their own esports teams. The money in esports can mean scholarships to play on a college esports team and even a potential career.

Illinois schools like Taft, Plainfield Central, Naperville North, and many more are taking part in this trend. Less than a month after Naperville North High unveiled its space dedicated to competitive video gaming, one of its teams won an unofficial state championship sponsored by the Illinois High School Esports Association, not to be confused with the IHSA.

With these other schools competing, is Leyden going to be the next school to join in? Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak is interested in the idea of an esports team coming to our school.

“I would fully support the creation of an esports team at Leyden,” he said. “When it comes to all sports, fine arts, clubs and activities at Leyden, I think they help students find their place in our school community. Research has shown that students who are involved in their schools are more successful academically during high school and after.” 

Some students at Leyden also believe that having an esports team here would be great and would love to join it. One of those students is senior Jeremy Lavarias, who enjoys playing games like Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege, and League of Legends.

“I think it’d be pretty awesome if Leyden added an esports team. Considering how much students play competitively,” he said, “I’d definitely join and compete.” 

The problem of it not being recognized by the IHSA could be solved soon with the talks of it happening. 

“I do think esports will become a recognized sport with the IHSA,” Dr. Polyak said. “They now have an advisory committee that is meeting this year to look at next steps.”

The waiting game is what we’ll need to play now to see if esports will be accepted as an official sport by the IHSA.

“When it comes to esports, I think it’s just a matter of time,” Polyak said. “We are watching the IHSA closely to see how they will build this program for the state.”