Video gaming, or esports, is officially a part of California Interscholastic Federation sports, the organization that governs high school sports in California. Students are given the opportunity to represent their schools by playing video games, meaning that they will be playing against other schools like any other sport.
The idea of having esports in high schools was brought up around two years ago, but the official announcement was made in September 2019, according to Chris Fahey, the Director of Corporate Sponsorship for CIF. The agreement was signed for three years with PlayVS, which created a special esports competition platform.
The CIF website states that having esports in your school can be beneficial for the player because they will “be able to gain skills that will help them throughout their lives.”
For example, playing on an esports team will help teach students about a team environment and add to personal development. Players will also have the opportunity to receive scholarships and gain exposure for professional opportunities.
“Personally, I think it’s a good idea because some kids don’t like physical sports, so this can be an opportunity for gamers at home that are good at playing,” Brian Luna, a Hilda Solis junior who plays video games, said.
Students can compete in the games Rocket League, Smite and League of Legends.
In order to sign up for any esports team, the player must pay a fee of $64. Once they pay, they will receive access to the content and games that they need. League of Legends has its game days on Tuesdays, while Rocket League and Smite have their game days on Thursdays.
The esports spring season started on February 17 and ended on April 17. For the teams that qualify for playoffs, their games will start on April 21. The teams that advance to the championship will play their games sometime during mid-May.
In the premier league last fall, Sunny Hills High School won the championship for League of Legends, according to the North America Scholastic Esports Federation.
“As a sport, I think that it [esports] is as competitive as baseball, basketball, and soccer,” said James Ng, a teacher at Hilda Solis Learning Academy, who once worked with SEGA. “I mean, you have to think about strategy and you have to think about tactics. I think it’s here and it will only continue to grow.”