Get 2 the Point: The Rise of eSports

Bay Port High School teacher and E-Sports team advisor Lucas Richards holds a Bay Port E-Sports shirt (WBAY photo)
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HOWARD, Wis. (WBAY) -

It’s competitive, cerebral, requires practice, sportsmanship and has a growing legion of fans. “It” is eSports, and it may be coming this fall to a school near you.

Esports, according to Bay Port High School teacher Lucas Richards, is the umbrella term for competitive video gaming that’s played against others; as part of a team or solo, competing both online and in person. Richards is the advisor for the school’s E-Sports team, which is part of a statewide league that is rapidly growing.

Richards says the team at Bay Port had strong interest. “For our first interest meeting (last fall) we had 127 kids show up. We actually had 100 students sign up and pay membership dues and things like that.”

The industry itself is projected to top one billion dollars this year, according to industry marketers. Things like tournaments, sponsorships, prize purses, advertising and merchandise are driving the numbers. Wisconsin high schools are joining in. The Wisconsin High School Esports Association has grown from 8 teams in 2017---to 60 schools across the state, with each school supporting several teams for various games. Colleges are also on board. Schools including Marquette University and UW-Stout are starting collegiate teams, and some are even offering scholarship dollars.

Some parents might be skeptical about their son or daughter getting involved in competitive video gaming, but Richards says he sees kids become leaders and communicate as they work hard as part of a team.

“There is a community being built around these video games,” Richards says. “It’s not going away. It’s growing and growing. It’s going to be huge.”

Learn more about eSports in this week’s Get 2 the Point podcast. You can also check out the Wisconsin High School Esports Association webpage at: www.wihsea.org

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