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E2CCB launches Esports league for area school districts

Chances are you know someone who plays video games as a leisure activity. But did you know that leisure activity has become a vehicle for one of the fastest-growing competitive sports leagues in the world?

The upward trend of esports, or electronic sports, has resulted in the formation of more than 170 esports teams in colleges throughout the country and accounts for more than $16M in scholarship opportunities. Local high schools are taking notice and looking to capitalize on the collegiate and educational opportunities esports can provide for students.

“Esports is competitive gaming. It’s the easiest for us to do for social distancing and it’s a light lift for schools as far as being involved in it,” said Robert Miller, E2CCB Technology Integration Specialist. “There are so many curriculum ties with esports we try and incorporate, from computer science and digital citizenship to competitive strategy and teamwork.”

The Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Integrated Educational Services team provides data, technology, curriculum and professional development opportunities to its 27 component school districts. It’s newest venture into esports has caught the attention of 14 area school districts, many of which have been working to create their digital and online infrastructures over the past year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“When you do think of esports you think of gaming and traditionally a child within their own home gaming alone, and it’s not necessarily a team or a sport event,” said Erica Case, E2CCB director of staff and curriculum development. “What esports in schools does is takes that student’s interest in gaming and it expands it beyond just the game. They begin to develop those collegiate circles where they can have other students who talk the same language as them and who have similar interests.”

To help create the foundation for the esports league, E2CCB has partnered with the North America Scholastic Esports Federation which will help coordinate matches between schools in the same time zone, provides online support and curriculum and facilitates additional playing opportunities for schools using its Scrim Finder search tool.

“There are many opportunities on the curriculum side to actually embed the skills and knowledge that it takes to compete in esports and combine it into the ELA, math and computer science curriculum,” said Allison Adams, E2CCB Instructional Coach. “You do not have to be a gamer to participate in esports. It’s an all-inclusive opportunity with a very deep-driven curriculum aspect and social emotional learning competencies.”

The NASEF Winter-Spring Term for esports typically runs March through April and local teams including CAM P-TECH in Springville, Gowanda, Lake Shore, Clymer, North Collins and Silver Creek will begin competitive play today, March 4 at 3:30 p.m. Teams entering the competition will compete in Rocket League, a vehicular soccer videogame where students use vehicles as the players to try and score a goal.

Local districts are allowed three esports teams which will operate similar to an afterschool club. Due to changes in sports leagues throughout the state, the interest in esports was high for all students, including student-athletes.

“The cool thing with esports is that every student can participate. Students with disabilities, students that might not make a ball team or involved in a Drama Club, they can all participate in esports through their schools,” Miller said. “There are opportunities for students to be shout casters which is an esports play-by-play person, we have logo designers for the schools, they can work on the IT team to help with streaming and help build the gaming machines. There are so many opportunities.”

For more information on esports, contact Allison Adams at aadams@e2ccb.org or Rob Miller at rmiller@e2ccb.org.

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