MHSAA is Considering Gaming as a Varsity Sport

The+audience+watches+a+match+between+the+University+of+Maryland%2C+left%2C+and+the+University+of+Illinois+in+the+Big+Ten+Network+%22League+of+Legends%22+championship+in+the+Battle+Theater+at+North+American+League+Championship+Arena+at+Riot+Games+in+Los+Angeles+on+March+28%2C+2017.+Maryland+won+the+best+of+five+contest+by+a+score+of+3-0.
The audience watches a match between the University of Maryland, left, and the University of Illinois in the Big Ten Network

The audience watches a match between the University of Maryland, left, and the University of Illinois in the Big Ten Network "League of Legends" championship in the Battle Theater at North American League Championship Arena at Riot Games in Los Angeles on March 28, 2017. Maryland won the best of five contest by a score of 3-0.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The audience watches a match between the University of Maryland, left, and the University of Illinois in the Big Ten Network "League of Legends" championship in the Battle Theater at North American League Championship Arena at Riot Games in Los Angeles on March 28, 2017. Maryland won the best of five contest by a score of 3-0.

Noah Bieniek, Online Editor

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Imagine… school students packed into the Performing Arts Center watching their classmates game against Stevenson in Madden, NHL, 2K, Overwatch, or Call of Duty. The players are sitting at long tables on the stage with monitors 3 feet in front of them with the projector displaying their gameplay.

This scene could actually happen in Henry Ford II High School’s PAC. Officials and higher ups in the Michigan High School Athletic Association are discussing the implementation of Gaming under the name ‘eSports’ with high school athletic directors, in response to colleges in Michigan giving out scholarships for eSports. Schools like Western Michigan, Adrian, Sienna Heights and more have created programs for eSports players. This could soon flood into local high schools, giving students that wouldn’t normally compete in a Varsity sport, a chance to earn a Varsity ‘HF’ letter in HFII.

“It may not happen until another couple years down the road,” Athletic Director Bill Szlaga said in an interview Thursday afternoon.” The MHSAA will probably wait it out and see how well the concept does in college, but the good thing about it is that we will get more kids participating in extracurricular activities.”

If the programs at high schools can gain good attendance to events and be able to fill team rosters they could actually make a good argument to become a varsity program. In some people’s opinions an eSports team could draw more attendance than golf and tennis meets.

Szlaga also stated, “I think the program should start at the “club sport” level, let it build some steam then maybe we can push for it to be a varsity sport. There are other programs like Dance, and lacrosse that I think should be considered a varsity sport before eSports. Nevertheless, I think it is cool idea and hopefully it works out.”

In order to add gaming, or any sport to the list of “official” varsity sports at least 64 high schools in the state of Michigan must sponsor it. Time will only tell whether or not eSports will be considered an official sport, and we are left to imagine what could happen if it becomes legitimized in high school extracurricular activities.

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