GLASGOW — Glasgow High School now offers Esports, a new type of sport that involves playing video games competitively with other high schools from across the state.
One of the athletes who is a member of the new Esports team is Tanner Meadows.
Meadows, a GHS junior, was looking for something to do after school when he stumbled upon the new sport.
Before he became a member of the team, he used to go home after school and get on his phone. Now, he can spend time with others who also enjoy playing video games.
“I think it's been fun actually learning with people because we all help each other out,” he said. “I'm actually doing better than I would if I didn't come here.”
Meadows is one of 10 students who make up the school's Esports team.
The creation of the Esports team was approved by the Glasgow Board of Education at it's Oct. 21 meeting. The team competed in its first match on Oct. 29 against Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, losing both matches with an overall score of 0-2.
Esports is recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association as an official competitive sport.
“I have tried to have two teams, but you have to have everybody present or you have to forfeit the game,” said Cassandra Roberts, Esports team coach.
All members of the team are required to get physicals before competing.
“If we are going to recognize it as a sport, we have to treat it like a sport. They have to go through the physical process just like any other athlete does,” she said.
Most members of the team aren't in any other club nor do they take part in any other activity.
“This is the first thing that has really grabbed their attention at school, which is awesome,” Roberts said. “I personally would have totally been into this as a student.”
Being a part of the Esports team allows the students to be plugged-in to school culture in a positive way, plus it affords them the opportunity to apply for college scholarships, she said.
Several universities across the state also have Esports teams and some even offer Esport athletic scholarships.
Roberts pointed out that members of the team are held to high academic standards.
“I tell them they can't be failing anything if they want to play,” she said.
Christian Nelson, a GHS freshman, was not surprised that his school now has an Esports team.
“Video games are becoming more accepted worldwide, instead of being shamed whenever the first violent ones came out,” he said.
The team has games each Tuesday afternoon. The video game they play is called “League of Legends.”
“I chose to go with 'League of Legends' because it is the most widely recognized one of the collegiate level, so there are a lot more scholarship opportunities for students,” Roberts said.
There are two other games the team can play competitively and Roberts says she may explore playing them in the future.
One of the questions asked during the board of education meeting about the game the team would be playing concerned violence.
Roberts likened the violence level of the game to less than what can be found when viewing a movie with a rating of PG-13.
Nelson said he has played more violent video games on his own in the past. He had never played “League of Legends” until he became a member of the Esports team.
“This is really fun. I really enjoy this game,” he said.
Reece Sweeney, also a GHS junior and a member of the team, said he has always loved playing video games.
“The fact to have video games and (to be able) to play with my friends that I have at school, who usually have different consoles or just different ways of playing the way I play, … makes it a really fun experience for us,” he said.
There are a lot of things the students learn by being a part of the Esports team, such as problem-solving.
“Every match is different and you have to adapt to the situation,” Roberts said.
After every game, Roberts makes a point of asking the team members how they could have played better in hopes of improving their skills for their next game.
“There is (also) some emotional control they are learning from this too, because we all know the gamer stereotype. We even talked about gamer rage. They have to remain clam despite being upset over something that happened, ” she said. Roberts also asks the team's members to encourage one another and to build each other up rather than tearing each other down.
“I've also partnered them up with the younger players and made them work one-on-one with them to team them the skill, so there's also some leadership that's being promoted there that they didn't have,” she said.
The team will face Scott County High School on Tuesday for the second game.