Washington High School is one of the first high schools in Fremont to have an esports team. While not an official sport, WHS Esports is a local club that aims to get their top players into the spotlight.
High school esports being an official sport may seem radical here in America, but in other parts of the world, this isn’t a new concept. Ahyeon Polytechnic High School in South Korea is praised globally for its outstanding academic performance, and for having a devastating esports team. The principal of APHS, Bang Seung-ho, has helped integrate gaming into academics. He has also tried to bring discipline into gaming, with students asked to record when they go to bed and when they get up, and plan out a timetable for game practice every day.
Many other schools in South Korea saw the success of Bang’s program, and high school esports became commonplace. South Korea takes competitive video games seriously, and their influence is being spread across the world. The WHS esports program is still in its infancy, but they plan to expand. With more colleges accepting esports scholarships, we may see the sport boom in the future. According to teacher and coordinator Jessie McGrath, that may take some time. “Esports probably won’t be widespread anytime soon [locally], but I think within the next 5 or 10 years you will see progress made in that direction,” he says.
Using the High School Esports League (HSEL) to get their players into the action, WHS teams have been exceeding expectations. Tanav Mylavaram, the founder of the club, says that this group’s main purpose is to get players recognized. “There’s a lot of gamers at WHS that would love to compete at the national level,” he says. “I decided to start a school Esports team, making it as simple as possible to find a team in your desired game to compete at the national level.” The High School Esports League also provides many college opportunities. They offer college aid, professional coaching and scouting, and even scholarship offerings.
Many WHS players feel that esports should be more accepted as a sport in school. Aadhish Ramanathan said, “Esports should be more widely accepted like a normal sport, basketball or football. [Competitive] chess has also strived for acceptance, and has received it, now it’s our turn. Esports and Chess are no different, and it’s time for parents and administration to give it some space and let it do its work.” In South Korea, esports is taken very seriously. Still, it took some time for high school esports teams to emerge. With South Korean high schools seeing success, maybe we will start seeing more teams in high schools around the world, including the US.