Soon, AUHSD assembled an esports program committee and, in 2019, launched its first esports championship series. By the following year, the California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school sports, launched its own esports initiative.
“Their endorsement helped legitimize what we were trying to do,” says Adrian Olmedo, teacher, technology specialist and esports coordinator at AUHSD’s Western High School. Olmedo teaches media arts and career technical education (CTE) and knows firsthand that scholastic esports is about much more than gaming.
“A lot of kids come in thinking they want to be a Twitch streamer. It’s what gets them into the esports program,” he says. “But it’s our job as educators to show them what other skills they can develop.”
Academically, various groups harness students’ interest in esports, engage them in extracurricular pursuits, and channel their energy into STEM fields, media and other career paths or postsecondary education opportunities.
“Schools are trying to get more students involved in extracurricular activities because it leads to a giant leap in academic achievement,” explains Joe McAllister, formerly CDW•G’s education esports expert. “In K–12, esports programs are built around soft-skill development such as teamwork, communication skills, leadership, dependability as well as CTE pathways. So even if the esports industry slowed tomorrow, it would continue to thrive in K–12 education because of all the benefits for kids.”
A Global Phenomenon Impacting K–12 Schools
Esports has exploded