Why Should K–12 Schools Level Up Their Esports Programs?
“By investing in an esports team, you’re investing in the whole school,” Bulka says. To level up an existing esports program, it’s crucial to have an invested coach and an administration that sees the value of esports.
Ben Spieldenner, director of professional development for technology integration and innovation at Ashland City Schools in Ohio and Ashland High School esports director, says the program launched in 2019 with support from the school’s principal and superintendent.
The initial goal was to give students with gaming expertise an outlet to share it and feel connected to their school. “The more a student is connected to their school, the more likely they are to stay engaged,” Spieldenner says.
The school, now part of the Esports Ohio league, has varsity, junior varsity and club esports teams. Leveling up those programs means that students are not just “playing a video game” but learning serious skills and getting better at them.
Spieldenner says leveling up an esports program gives it legitimacy.
“One of the biggest struggles that most esports programs have is the legitimacy of the program,” he notes. “If someone has never seen a real esports match, it’s hard for them to picture what goes on or what it looks like. But it’s really competitive, and you have to be good at it in order to win.”