I love hearing this kind of eSports news. An American startup company called PlayVS is working with the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS), the organization that leads high school sports across the US, in building the infrastructure to support high school eSports. PlayVS has just secured a whopping $15 million dollars in just the first stage of funding from a lot of high profile sources. Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, music artist Nas, and many professional sports stars such as Kevlin Beachum and Baron Davis have already signed on to the project.
This is huge news for eSports fans as kids with the right set of keyboard skills may soon find themselves competing in an organized environment more similar to traditional sports. This more legitimized structure also brings many of the same possible benefits that traditional sports players enjoy such as scholarships. Although there are many stories online of eSports players getting scholarships for schools, it’s clear that this is still something very new that doesn’t have a solid foundation yet. Traditional sports scouts start looking into talent in high school and recruiting players for college teams. At the moment, this structure isn’t in place yet for eSports players. PlayVS’ work with the NFHS will help immensely in building this.
Currently, the NFHS manages a total of 17 traditional sports and with the assistance of PlayVS, will add an additional 3 eSports categories to its list: MOBA, sports, and fighting games. PlayVS is hoping to see these eSport categories incorporated into 18 states across the country as early as this fall.
It’s worth highlighting that one of the oldest competitive genres of games is not included in this list – shooters. According to Polygon, NFHS Network CEO Mark Koski has specifically rejected popular shooters like Counter Strike and Fortnite from being incorporated into their organization. Given America’s history with school shootings, this makes a lot of sense. Despite this, I’m sure that more genres of games will be added to the list in the future.
I’m eagerly following the development of this new partnership between the NFHS and PlayVS and am looking forward to seeing how their work aids in establishing a greater sense of legitimacy for eSports. Regardless of what you want to call it, I believe the market has an enormous potential and I’m glad that investors also see the massive opportunity it presents as well. It’s only a matter of time before investors in other countries follow suit.
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