Usually, the typical athlete is thought of as a swimmer in the pool, a football player on the field, or a runner on the track. But there's a new type of athlete emerging through Esports, which is competitive video gaming.
Palm Springs Unified School District did an Esports presentation and demo at CUE Conference, which is a conference dedicated to showcasing the latest technology educators can use in the classroom.
The staff and Esports coaches presented about the benefits Esports can have on students. They also explained how other educators can start their own Esports program at their school.
Following the presentation, the students a part of PSUSD Esports program did a demo playing the video game League of Legends.
Santigo Lara is a 6th grader at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School. He’s also a part of Palm Springs Unified School District’s Esports program.
“I think what I gained mostly was, like being more social, and like communicating with a lot of people," said Lara. “I joined because I love gaming. I mean, I love playing video games.”
PSUSD's director of technology, William Carr, said Esports can positively impact students.
“We give the students a different type of voice that they never had before," said Carr. "Problem-solving key, communication, conflict resolution, and grit, they try and try and try to succeed, just like you should do in math and in school. You keep trying, you don't give up.”
Since the district started its Esports program, it says it has seen an increase in attendance and a decrease in discipline issues.
“The right amount of time playing games versus doing homework versus exercising, socializing," said Carr. "Everything has to be done in right moderations.”
Currently, all middle schools and high schools within PSUSD have an Esports program for students to join. The district plans to start expanding to its elementary schools with pilot programs.
Lara hopes more students join Esports so they can reap all the benefits he has.
“Especially if you're not a sports person, like this is the sport you want to go to," said Lara.
Students can then go on to earn scholarships and grants for college through Esports.