While traditional sports are on a time out at many schools, a growing number of districts have turned to organized video games to provide students the team sports experience they’re missing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
West Contra Costa Unified, Los Angeles Unified and Sacramento City Unified are just a few of the California districts that have joined or formed “esports” leagues in recent years in which teams of students compete in online video game tournaments and scrimmages against other schools. Some schools are tying computer programming and STEM education to esports, and some colleges are even offering esports scholarships.
Proponents say esports can be a gateway for nonathletic students to reap the benefits of team sports. West Contra Costa Unified Superintendent Matthew Duffy, whose interest in bringing esports to the 30,000 student Richmond-area school district began even before the pandemic, sees esports as an opportunity to connect students to each other at a time when they’re feeling the most isolated.
“My hope is that it could really attract a set of students who may not have participated in this kind of group activity and bring out all the great