(COVINGTON, La.) Students of St. Paul’s, no longer will you get in trouble for playing video games on campus, thanks to the school’s future eSports team.
Art teacher Andrew Dart will be the coach for the new team and never planned on joining or creating one, but is excited for what’s to come.
“Let me stop you right there. It’s not a club; it’s an officially sanctioned sport,” Dart said when mistakenly asked about the new “club.”
“It’s actually a funny story,” Dart continued. “I didn’t want to be part of the ‘club,’ this wasn’t my idea at all. I was in Monroe, Louisiana, two weeks ago coaching the tennis team to a respectable finish to the season at the state finals matches. I get an email from Bro. Ray (Bulliard), and Craig Ketelson, and I was immediately both curious and concerned seeing their names on the email notification. The president of the school and athletic director had just contacted me while I’m away with the team, surely something must be wrong.
“To my surprise, and to make a long story short, they said, ‘We want an eSports team, will you do it?’ I eagerly accepted. I am beyond thrilled to have it here at St. Paul’s because it will provide a venue for those not engaged in traditional sports to have an outlet for team play, and all that goes along with being a part of a highly competitive team. I’m excited to see where this leads.”
For those who are unaware, eSports is a growing form of entertainment and has been for many years now.
“eSports has been a thing for many years, reaching prominence in the United States in the past decade,” Dart said. “It’s a $700 million industry this year, projected to reach $1.5 BILLION by 2020. The most recent eSports competition for a single tournament was over $20 million. Needless to say, eSports are as much a competitive sport as any of the ‘traditional’ sports that get televised. The negative stigma of competitive video games as a sport has been broken a long time ago, and anyone that thinks otherwise is being willfully ignorant as to what constitutes competitive sporting. ‘What do people get out of watching guys play video games?’ someone will say. To which I point out that the Zurich Classic isn’t really riveting television to most (sorry, Coach Barwick). People just like to watch different elements of the myriad sports available to us.”
The sport has been officially sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Athletics, and the team will operate as a traditional sport with a season and organized matches.
“We will play weekly matches against ranked opponents in our conference (each state is divided into four conferences) and earn our way into the single-elimination tournament at the end of the season,” Dart said. “Seasons run from October to January.”
Students interested in joining the sport must sign up with Coach Dart. An initial meeting was held on May 10, 2018, but students may still sign up with Coach Dart who were not able to attend. Coach Dart is looking for students who possess the qualities of team players and that will recognize the necessary work to build St. Paul’s as a top-tier level school. Interested students can contact Coach Dart at firstname.lastname@example.org.