VHSL to launch e-sports pilot program

Published 9:50 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

E-sports could potentially be making its mark in Suffolk along with Hampton Roads in the near future.

The Virginia High School League has approved a one-year pilot program for e-sports. E-sports, also known as electronic sports, is a form of competition using video games. Competitors from different teams or leagues to face off with one another in certain video games.

VHSL has cited that e-sports competitions have grown over the years and many high school students are engaging in these competitive activities on their own. Through the pilot program, VHSL plans to assess the potential participation of the member schools in e-sports. That will lead to providing data to the executive committee for potential sanctioning of e-sports as an official activity for VHSL.

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“Since approved by the executive committee, there has been a lot of ​positive feedback​ from schools and sponsors who are very ​excited about e-sports​,” VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun said. “The Virginia High School League is always looking to ​increase opportunities​ for students beyond the traditional activities.”

VHSL is working with PlayVS, which is the official e-sports partner of the National Federation of State High School Associations, to see where this opportunity may go. Two seasons are expected to be offered, with season one being through October and season two to be determined.

Some benefits of e-sports include character development, increased participation and STEM engagement. More than 200 universities offer scholarships for e-sports. It is a billion-dollar industry that is continually growing.

VHSL has made it clear that students will be required to maintain eligibility as with any other VHSL sport. Schools can register through PlayVS with the administration’s approval. Three game titles will be offered — League of Legends, Rocket League and SMITE. Cost per student is $64 per game title. Practices and competitions happen after school in a supervised environment. No travel is necessary, as competitions occur online.