Most young people get enough opportunity to play video games at home. Should they be playing video games at school?
That’s a question Brookfield High School and Brookfield Middle School students will answer themselves this year. The district would like to start an “esports” program.
Depending how you look at it, esports is shorthand for “electronic sports” or “emerging sports,” but they are simply video games such as Fortnite, Rocket League, Overwatch, Super Smash Brothers, Valorant and League of Legends.
District Supt. Toby Gibson said the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which sanctions traditional sports programs such as football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, reached out to him about esports, and school officials participated in a meeting to learn more about the idea.
“Very intriguing,” Gibson told the school board Aug. 16.
Teams could be formed at the middle school, junior varsity and varsity levels, with regional and state championship matches, he said.
“That is something we are going to engage interest with our students when school starts and then, hopefully, do the registration in December and start in January,” Gibson said.
OHSAA “supports esports, but it’s not a sanctioned sport and there are no plans to make it a sanctioned sport,” said OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried.
Instead, OHSAA “endorse(s) Esports Ohio as our provider for a postseason tournament,” he said.
Esports Ohio is a free, nonprofit organization created by teachers for students, and has more than 200 schools participating in its leagues in the three years it has been in existence, according to its website, esports.ohio.org
Games are typically played after school and last one to two hours, Gibson said.
“I think the interest level will be very high,” said school board member Sarah Kurpe.
The school district has computers capable of playing the video games, Gibson said, and Treasurer Jordan Weber added that officials are looking into whether they can use existing grant money to buy game systems.