Sports such as Basketball or American Football have long been the center of attention for many high schools across America. However, as more outside sports begin to attract attention, these conventional sports are beginning to share their spotlight with other up and coming sports. One of these rising sports appears to be in the form of gaming, better known as esports.
A recent article in TechCrunch reported that PlayVS, a startup building esports infrastructure at a high school level, announced the close of a $15 million Series A funding round. The rising startup hopes to bring a platform to the market that schedules games, helps schools hold try-outs and form teams and pulls in stats real-time from games thanks to partnerships with game publishers.
This recent round of funding has received support from high profile names such as CrossCut Ventures, Coatue Management, Cross Culture Ventures, the San Francisco 49ers, Nas, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, and others, reports Techcrunch.
In other areas of the globe, esports is quickly building a name for itself as a reputable sport. Melbourne has made progress to become Australia’s gaming capital with first Melbourne Esports Open, this came with the support of the local government.
The Victorian Government has announced plans to host the inaugural Melbourne Esports Open in September. The Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren stated “the Melbourne Esports Open is a massive scalp for Victoria, tapping into one of the world’s most popular sectors of the sports and entertainment industry,” reports PC World.
Evidently, there is a great deal of attention surrounding tournaments within this sport. If high school games of traditional sports such as basketball and American football can bring in large crowds, then it is not impossible to assume that eSports tournaments could attract large highschool crowds in the future.
We spoke with Ben Lundin, Director of Marketing at Gamurs, an Australian based, leading online publication and community page covering esports and competitive gaming, to get a better idea of what the future could hold for esports in high schools.
“The rise of esports in high schools is nothing new, but is clearly picking up steam. Just visit any high school around the country and you’ll find teens talking about games, and telling stories of something they did while playing or something they saw while watching. Fortnite dances have become a cultural norm. But esports at that level lacks structure,” states Lundin.
“Essentially what you have in esports at the high school level is a wide range of “pick-up” games similar to intramural sports like Ultimate Frisbee. Esports is too big for it not to mature into leagues with more structure. What that will eventually look like isn’t clear right now, but what is clear is that structured leagues–and those that tie into the college levels and beyond–are coming,” he adds.
It might be a distant vision, but perhaps one day we may find a school sports hall crammed with eager fans cheering on the favorite esports highschool stars in an intense tournament.