Now that Fresno Unified has officially launched into the world of eSports, students can represent their high schools in competitive video gaming.

“This is the best thing that has ever happened to me at school,” Superintendent Bob Nelson quoted one student saying.

Nelson announced the news at Fresno Unified’s State of Education Luncheon last week.

“It is quite literally the competition venue of the future.” — Bob Nelson, Fresno Unified superintendent

The district officially started its eSports season last week.

What Is eSports?

ESports is a program where young men and women compete on teams in an online gaming environment.

“It is quite literally the competition venue of the future,” Nelson said.

The viewership of the online tournaments has outpaced already the World Series and the NBA and NHL Finals, Nelson said. He said it is also rapidly closing in on the Super Bowl.

Students Can Get Scholarships and Jobs

Video games in a school system may seem unusual, but the reality is that many high schools and even colleges are welcoming them with open arms.

In fact, there are 200 colleges and universities across the country that are actively recruiting and providing scholarships for high school eSports athletes, said Kurt Madden, the district’s chief technology officer.

There are millions of dollars of scholarships for college for top high school eSports players along with thousands of jobs in this multi-billion dollar industry,” Madden said. “Now that colleges and universities recognize the benefits of eSports, it opens new doors to college and careers for our students.”

With the enthusiasm and engagement from students, Madden believes eSports may soon become an official school sport at Fresno Unified.

Fresno Unified eSports League (FUeL)

Currently, Fresno Unified is only offering eSports to its high school students, but that most likely will change next year, Madden said.

Interested students, Madden said, must meet Fresno Unified’s athletic academic eligibility standards to participate.

Madden said there are a coach and a team of three for every one of the district’s 12 high schools. All schools compete in scrimmages, which are held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Each school, Madden said, will be seeded for the district finals based on win/loss record during the season.

The game schools are currently using is called “Rocket League,” a vehicular soccer video game developed and published by Psyonix.

Madden said the district is looking at other eSports games now, especially those for which there are college scholarships.

Any Value To Students Participating?

Madden said he believes eSports at a district level provides students with the ability to represent their school in an organized, competitive team sport in an inclusive way that encourages the development of 21st century skills.

“ESports competition builds communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills as well as learning to work closely with a team, which are key skills for success in the future.” — Kurt Madden, Fresno Unified’s chief technology officer

ESports competition builds communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills as well as learning to work closely with a team, which are key skills for success in the future,” Madden said.

To learn more about eSports at Fresno Unified, click here.

Watch the Rocket League’s Top Plays


One Response

  1. Joseph Herzog

    Electronics are highly addictive, that’s common knowledge, I think the last thing we need is encouraging kids to spend more time in front of a screen. Yes, this seems novel and has some assigned rewards, but it’s not what is best for kids. Let’s not rush headlong into this and most certainly let’s be very, very cautious about taking it into lower grades, where addiction is even more likely.


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