For me this has been a really long time coming. I can't tell you the number of meetings that I sat in and subtly suggested that we think about starting a e-sports team only to be laughed at or outright ignored. I knew it would be a tough sell, especially in our neck of the woods.
I work in a community where farming and football and pretty much the rule and quite honestly we are only good at one of those two things.
I'm obviously preaching to the choir here when I talk about how fast the e-sports sector is growing. Colleges are giving out massive scholarships and the amount of money floating around is just insane. I actually live just a short distance away from Northwood University, one of the top e-sports colleges in the country.
Sure the district where I work is a bit removed from Northwood, but not far enough that we couldn't have a decent number of students choosing attend there or getting scholarships to go there. We just need a good feeder program to help them grow their skills.
As I said, it has been a lesson in futility... until recently.
There was a point about a year ago where we actually got the topic on our board agenda, but due to lack of knowledge or the misguided fear that it would pull athletes away from "real sports", it was shelved and never talked about again.
Then things changed.
A couple of months ago we got some new leadership in the district. Someone who worked very closely with e-sports at their old district and suddenly, it was back on the agenda/radar.
In less than a month, we have gotten approval for a pilot and they are working on putting together a team.
We are going to start small, but any movement forward at this point I consider a plus.
I already have a room picked out for them to use and I am working on gathering resources so that our students can jump in and be as competitive as possible. I'm honestly pretty excited to see what kind of talent we have among our ranks!
It sounds like we are going to start off pretty simple, running one team of Rocket League or something like that. It is hard to say where things might go from here. Maybe I will be wrong and there won't be that much interest, but I am hoping there is.
I can see a future where we are streaming our matches to hundreds if not thousands of fans. I think this could really be something big for the small town I work in.
I'm honestly not much of a gamer like I used to be back in the day, but this has me really excited. I'm not saying I am going to dust off my controller or anything, and part of my agreement to be involved was that I wouldn't have to be a coach. I am ready and willing to offer support in any other way necessary to ensure this is a success.
I'm old enough that when I was in school e-sports weren't a thing. Heck, it was kind of rare to even have computers in the classrooms. Pretty much all through high school you still had to boot PC's from a floppy disc with DOS on it.
It's amazing how far we have come in such a small amount of time!