Esports

Six Polk County High Schools Create eSports Video Gaming Teams

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POLK COUNTY, FL — Students who aren’t able to compete in sports at Polk County Public Schools have a new option for competitive playing-electronic sports (eSports).

PCPS’ eSports has officially become part of the district’s athletics department, holding the same status as other sports. eSports student-athletes must meet the same standards as face-to-face athletes in academics, attendance and conduct to participate, a news release said.

“eSports describes the world of competitive, organized video gaming,” CNN reported. “Competitors from different leagues or teams face off in the same games that are popular with at-home gamers: Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Madden NFL, to name a few.”

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The program at the schools is currently in its pilot season. During this program, teams from six schools compete against each other in the game, “Rocket League,” the PCSP website said.

“Athletics is about reaching kids, giving them opportunities, and making them better people,” said Dan Talbot, PCPS’ athletics director. “We want to encompass that in eSports as well by expanding and broadening our programs; we’re getting a different type of student-athlete.”

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eSports is growing prominence at the collegiate level. In Polk County, Florida Southern College, Southeastern University and Keiser University offer eSports programs. This provides an additional scholarship opportunity for students.

Eddy Varela, a resource specialist with PCPS School Technology Services, serves as the project leader for the eSports initiative.

Varela said in a news release that eSports allows students to compete regardless of their physical abilities or disabilities. That eSports can help engage students who might not be interested in traditional school sports or extracurriculars.

“Another aspect of this is we’re trying to revamp what athletics means in our county,” Varela said. “As eSports grows in the world, we’re attempting to help our students stay at the forefront of that industry. We’re looking toward the future with this.”

Frostproof High, Kathleen High, Lake Gibson High, Lake Region High, Ridge Community High, and Roosevelt Academy are six schools in the county that have inaugural teams participating in eSports.

Open tryouts are being planned for the future, PCPS said.

If successful in the pilot phase, PCPS will possibly expand the eSports program to other schools.

For more information, please see polkschoolsfl.com/esports. The page will be updated with the schedule and streaming details.

The inaugural season of PCPS eSports is scheduled to end with a championship in May at Florida Southern College.

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Source: https://patch.com/florida/lakeland/esports-provide-competitive-sportsmanship-polk-area-schools

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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