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Why should education pay more attention to e-sports?

How I got involved

As a student in middle school and high school, it was very common to find me down in the basement on my custom-built PC playing games like Starcraft or Diablo 2 for hours on end. I spent much of my time playing and was highly ranked within my Starcraft clan, but the idea of ever going to college for it or making a career out of it never really crossed my mind. Throughout college, I spent a lot of time with my friends playing the Halo and Call of Duty series, but again, never thought I could make a life out of it.

For the last six years, I was a Business and Information Technology high school teacher in the state of Wisconsin. In one of my first years, a student gave a presentation about the World Championships for League of Legends and after picking my jaw up off the floor afterward, I realized how much potential gaming had to it, but it needed someone to take charge. I jumped in with both feet and spent hours researching how we can get involved and what my school could do to help students showcase their skills and abilities. It didn’t take much to convince our school board that this was a great service to provide for our students and approved the creation of it! Flash forward to the present and I’m now working with a group of 30+ high schools in Wisconsin to create a statewide organization that delivers competitive e-sports to students around the state!

Students e-sports services and its impact

Now there are a lot of colleges and universities offering scholarships for gaming and recruiting students to play on their varsity teams and state high school associations are forming rapidly, but not all your students need that level of competition. They need a place to belong. They need to find their niche in their school. There is a group of students in every school that we try to attract and get involved and this serves that purpose. In my experience and talking with other teachers in our state with programs, before the gaming clubs, a majority of these students weren’t involved in any other clubs or organizations. Once involved in these clubs, our schools saw a direct impact on attendance, behavior discipline, grade performance, and social interactions. Week in and week out, we see dozens of students staying after school to play games together! These are some of the great consequences for education.

How can schools get involved?

Honestly, this is the easiest thing to establish within your school. You for sure have a computer lab that isn’t being used after school hours or those TV carts that sit in your school’s library resource room. Once you get school board approval, then put in a request to your school’s IT department so they can install some of the free games popular with your student body on them. In a couple of weeks, the computers will be set up and it gives you plenty of time to get the word out to your students about the after-school opportunity! They will literally be storming your door at the end of the day to get in and get a spot with their friends! My first club meeting saw 50-60 students rushing through the door for a spot! Once they’re in, you can set up little fun tournaments to add a layer of competition and those who want to get involved with that can do so. And you know what the best way to keep them coming back every week? Pizza! Create a program that if they want pizza, to bring $5 or charge $2 per slice and order as much pizza as you can every week! And just like that, you will have a fun environment that draws in students and gets them involved within your schools!


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Mike Dahle

Former high school teacher turned community activist and event organizer working on creating a state-wide high school competitive association in esports.

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