Following in North America’s footsteps, European high schools are starting to see more and more esports programs.
The British Esports Association and the North American Scholastic Esports Federation revealed a partnership today that has a focus on changing perception of esports in high schools. Currently, many schools consider esports a program, not a sport. The BEA and NASEF aim to change that with a structured competitive environment.
The two associations have joined forces to run tournaments and introduce new esports programs to high schools and colleges. This elevates the esports experience from a more casual program to an organized sporting event, complete with coaches and structured teams. They will compete on local and national levels, often with scholarship money on the line.
As the esports industry continues to grow, the two organizations have also grown more prominent within the last few years. According to the BEA, there was a whopping 94.59% increase in team sign-ups for the British Esports Championships 2019-2020 season.
The British Esports Championships feature high school and college teams competing in Overwatch, Rocket League, and League of Legends. The season will conclude in April at the Birmingham NEC’s Insomnia Gaming Festival.
The United States has continuously grown its high school and college esports scene as well. Popular Fortnite and IRL streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys recently donated $50,000 to the University of California’s esports program, marking the first such donation the program had ever received. Last year, ESPN Events announced the Collegiate Esports Championship. Shortly after, Full Sail University opened a new esports arena on campus.
Collegiate sports are big business in the United States, sometimes generating as much interest and revenue as in the world’s biggest professional sports leagues. There seems to be great potential for esports to follow a similar path in the country’s schools.
According to NASEF, over 200 US colleges have offered scholarship funds for students participating in esports programs, currently totaling over $16 million. The new partnership aims to bring an increase in programs and scholarship money to schools in the EU as well.