Illinois to consider bringing competitive video gaming to the high school level

ST. LOUIS – The times are certainly changing. The Illinois High School Association is considering making esports—competitive video gaming—an interscholastic endeavor. And the idea is getting lots of interest.

The IHSA is establishing an advisory committee to develop a state series and championship format for esports-video gaming.

“We are excited any time we can entertain the possibility of offering Illinois high school students more opportunities to represent their schools in competition,” said Craig Anderson, IHSA executive director. “We know that students benefit in the short and long term when they are involved in a high school sport or activity.”

Althoff Catholic High School athletic director Greg Leib said their kids are interested.

“I talked to Dave Harris—our principal—the other day about it and it’s something we'll probably embrace because I think there is a distinct interest there,” he said.

Leib said it’s another example of the IHSA being proactive. They were also the first state high school association to offer bass fishing as interscholastic competition.

“If our mission is kids, putting kids first, kids are going to have an interest in this,” he said.

A couple hundred colleges in the United States and Canada are recruiting and offering scholarships to high school kids. Locally, Maryville University claimed its second national title playing the game “League of Legends.”

“I have been to their gym. You walk in and you don’t see a whole lot of banners but you see those national championships on online gaming,” Leib said.

With the potential for scholarship funds and a new, fun activity for students, Leib said many people are asking why shouldn’t esports be added to the list.

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