The Pike County Schools Board of Education discussed the idea of implementing an Esports program into all of the district’s high schools during a recent meeting.

Esports, or electronic sports, is organized, competitive video gaming where students compete against other schools’ teams and play games, like League of Legends and Rocket League, during a regular season. High schools can apply to start an Esports team through the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Superintendent Reed Adkins told the board that he has learned more about the program while being on the KHSAA Board of Directors, and he wanted to introduce the idea of bringing it into the district’s high schools while he continues to look into its implementation.

“Over the last couple years, the KHSAA has sanctioned the Esports program, and we wondered how it would take off,” Adkins said. “As you all know, I’m on the KHSAA Board of Directors, and I’ve had a chance to be on the ground floor with this. It’s taken off great, and I think we know students who may not necessarily enjoy playing sports and some of them don’t enjoy being on the Academic Team.”

Adkins said the district would need to pay for licensing fees and other similar fees in order to implement the program, but he said the cost would be minimal for the district. He said the Esports program provides more opportunities for scholarships, which would help many students in the district who are already interested in doing it. In the program, students would play League of Legends and/or Rocket League, and five students from the team would compete in the games.

There are currently 200 colleges and universities offering nearly $10 million in scholarships for high school students involved in Esports, according to the KHSAA. The University of Pikeville is one of the universities that provides a scholarship for students involved with Esports.

“The nice thing about it is they (the students) can participate in Esports even when we have a situation like we’re having right now because they can compete at their home base at their school with anybody in the state,” Adkins said, referring to the district closing due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). “As many of you know, some of your kids probably compete with people across the state and the nation in their rooms at night on their computers.”

During the brief discussion, Dist. 3 board member Dwayne Abshire agreed with Adkins about how the program could help the students in Pike County.

“I’m a big sports guy, but the truth of the matter is that every kid ain’t a sports person as far as getting out on a football field,” Abshire said. “I’m sure there’s some kids across this county who could burn this up.”

No votes or actions were taken after the discussion.

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