By Evan Bleier / August 24, 2018

Beginning in 2019, Arizona Will Have an eSports State Championship

Students will initially compete in “Rocket League" and "League of Legends."

Scholarships in eSports
UCI students face off at League of Legends in the Student Center's Zot Zone (Courtesy of The Association of Gamers at UCI)

Instead of sprained ankles, training staffs at high schools across Arizona will likely be treating sprained thumbs starting early next year.

That’s because, in February of 2019, the state will have the first of two annual eSports competition periods which will be held in the fall and spring during each school year going forward.

Sanctioned as activities rather than varsity sports, Arizona initially will offer students the ability to compete for a state championship in a three-on-three “Rocket League” game and in “League of Legends,” a five-on-five multiplayer game.

Sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the eSports competitions will cost $50 per season for students to participate but won’t require any travel until the state tournament.

Rod Huston, the Gilbert Highland athletic director, told the The Arizona Republic the district isn’t overly worried about traditional athletes quitting actual sports to play eSports.

“Really, they are different kids,” he said. “Some want or are led by parents to be outside and sports-oriented early and find a love that will keep them playing.  Others are left to find their way and end up in esports for various reasons — it’s  hot outside, it takes a lot of energy to play sports or maybe they just can’t get a ride to the field. I think it’s great we are getting into it. We have to meet these kids where they are and find ways to engage them. If we want them to be strong citizens, we have to go in their space and teach them how to be solid community-oriented adults.”

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