Esports continues to go mainstream as public schools are forming teams.
Although colleges entered the esports arena years ago, K-12 public schools are slower to enter the world of competitive gaming. Polk County Public Schools in Florida is the latest school district to start esports teams for students.
In its pilot season, teams representing six schools are competing against each other in Rocket League. The inaugural season of PCPS Esports concludes with a championship at Florida Southern College in May 2022.
“Athletics is about reaching kids, giving them opportunities, and making them better people. We want to encompass that in esports as well,” said Dan Talbot, PCPS’ athletics director. “By expanding and broadening our programs, we’re getting a different type of student-athlete.”
The school district notes that esports is appealing to students of all backgrounds and abilities. There are also growing scholarship opportunities at the collegiate level. So having esports teams in Polk County will help students compete for precious scholarship dollars.
“In addition, esports helps encourage and develop useful skills and traits like problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and sportsmanship,” the school district says.
PCPS Esports is officially part of the district’s Athletics department, holding the same status as all other sports. Esports student-athletes must meet the same standards in academics, attendance and conduct in order to participate.
Inaugural teams have already formed at six schools: Frostproof High, Kathleen High, Lake Gibson High, Lake Region High, Ridge Community High, and Roosevelt Academy. Open tryouts are planned for the future with more schools added if the program proves successful.