Boasting an ever-increasing number of participants, esports (or electronic sports) continues to rise as one of the more popular and unique activity programs for high school students. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and its Learning Center now address the competitive, organized gaming landscape with a first-of-its-kind course – “Introduction to Esports” – which is now available for free on NFHSLearn.com.
“Introduction to Esports” was developed by the NFHS Learning Center in partnership with Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana) and PlayVS to not only more clearly define esports, but to offer several key examples of esports’ social benefits, inclusiveness, organizational structure and competition.
“The NFHS Learning Center is pleased to offer this online course for esports. These programs are oftentimes misunderstood, and the course provides education on what you need to know and do to get started,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services. “Esports provides opportunities for students who may not have ever participated in other school programs, and this allows them to be a part of a team with their classmates.”
Similar to other student activities, esports fosters growth and development in many ways. Students can grow on a personal level, as well as develop key team-building concepts such as coordination with peers, strategy, communication and problem-solving.
Whether it’s one of multiple activities a student is involved in or their first ever, esports caters to the widest possible range of students. Anyone who can use a computer can be an esports athlete. Through esports participation, students build bonds with fellow teammates over a shared passion; no matter the social group, they ultimately become part of a shared community.
The “Introduction to Esports” course is centered around five primary sections. Following the course introduction, the course dives into the background of competitive gaming and how schools can start an esports program.
The latter half of the course offers a more thorough look at the benefits of esports. Schools and students alike are afforded the advantages of specific esports skill development, in addition to increased social benefits, opportunities and inclusiveness. Also addressed are considerations and common misconceptions associated with esports.
Course partners PlayVS and Butler University have deep roots in esports. PlayVS, which is an online gaming competition platform, partnered with the NFHS and NFHS Network in 2018 to assist high schools with starting esports programs. Since the inaugural esports season in October 2018, the NFHS and PlayVS have grown from five member state associations and one affiliate group across five states to boasting competitive teams in high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are currently associations in 18 of those states that have partnered with PlayVS for esports competition featuring season-ending championships during the fall and spring semesters. Another 31 states have schools participating in esports without an official state championship.
“Esports is the fastest-growing sport today and many educators and parents have requested more information on the multitude of benefits esports offers to students,” said Aakash Ranavat, PlayVS senior vice president of partnerships and operations. “We are extremely proud to partner with the NFHS on an esports course for the first time ever. We look forward to bringing more education and awareness to esports and seeing the positive impact esports will continue to have on students across the country.”
“Collegiate esports has taken off. Creating esports club and varsity teams is often the first step, but the curricular side of esports is really starting to take hold as well,” said Lee Farquhar, Butler University associate professor and interim director of the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism and Creative Media. “Butler is in an especially strong position on both fronts, and it’s only getting started with more curricular, community and competitive programming ready to lift off this year.”
For more information and to access “Introduction to Esports,” please visit: https://www.nfhslearn.com/courses/introduction-to-esports.