Expanding esports: Wisconsin high school students compete in state tournament

Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 11:30 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Hundreds of high school students competed in a statewide esports competition Saturday and organizers say the turnout shows there is no sign the sport is slowing down.

Nearly 80 high schools across Wisconsin now offer competitive video gaming as an after school extra-curricular activity or club and worked to make it to Saturday’s tournament. Only 26 schools had the chance to compete for prizes.

Organizers say contrary to popular belief, esports engage kids in the same way traditional sports do by building leadership skills, developing strategy and teaching teamwork.

“The preconceived notion that people who play games are not leading themselves anywhere in life and wasting their time, all that is on its way out at this point,” said Madison College esports head coach Joe Hanson. “These students came here with the support of parents, families, friends, have the support of their schools and communities as well.”

According to Mike Dahle, president of the Wisconsin High School Esports Association, the gaming environment can also encourage students’ real-world aspirations.

“We have students doing play-by-play commentary, we have students running live streams on three different channels, we have a graphic designer,” said Dahle. “We have students stepping up into real world situations.”

Dahle hopes that every school across Wisconsin will consider an esports program.

“I think it’s just helping our students find a meaning to connect them to their education,” he said. “This is a way we can rope them in and push them to what they are passionate about. If that’s gaming, great.”

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