The Rise of Esports in Modern Day Culture

Are Esports the next major varsity sport at NMHS? Some students seem to think so.


"Brasil Game Show 2017 - Sábado" by patollino is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Zalkar Rysmendiev, Writer

Video gaming has evolved in modern-day culture with Esports (electronic sports). It is more accepted and appreciated than it has been in the past, with its popularity skyrocketing every year. Since 2016, the amount of viewers for these Esport tournaments has increased from 281 million to 400 million with a growth rate of 13.8% per year (Gray, 2018). In fact, the League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split Finals had more total viewers than Superbowl 53 leading them with 100 million viewers to 98 million while also drawing interest from Nike for a sponsorship deal (Gray, 2018).

Esports has even paved its way into high school curriculum, with the National Federation of State High School Associations partnering with PlayVS for nationwide tournaments between different schools. The High School Esports League (or HSEL) had around 200 participating schools as of 2018, but today has around 1,200 schools (Hennick, 2019). These esports teams made what was once considered a waste of time, a way to get people with the same interests together which also teaches teamwork and develops social skills. 

Many argue that spending too much time practicing for these teams puts too much stress on the student both physically and mentally. The heart rate for someone just sitting down is around 80 beats per minute, but while playing video games the heart rate can increase up to around 170 beats per minute (Ragsdale, 2019). When playing video games, players are usually deeply immersed in whatever they are playing so when it gets competitive their heart rates tend to rise drastically.

Students at New Milford High School have been interested in forming an Esport team within our school. NMHS senior Joseph Larivee had this to say: “I feel like the modern-day culture is slowly, but surely, changing for the better. Students today find joy in playing video games so to be able to represent our school doing the thing we love is exciting to think about.”

The High School Esports League (HSEL) offers schools the chance to compete against other schools in tournaments and LAN events which also helps with college due to new Esports programs being implemented. Registering for a team is an easy process; students just need to find a teacher or advisor who can manage the team, then find any other students interested in joining, with a minimum of five players. After getting the schedule set up, HSEL will partner with the school. To fund this program, team managers can either write for a STEM grant or partner with FundMyTeam, a program that focuses on the funding part of the team whether it is through local sponsorships or donations.