Growing popularity of esports creates new career opportunities for NISD students

Current NISD esports competitions are held in both the fall and the spring

NISD esports (NISD)

The popularity of esports in the U.S. is surging, especially among adolescents, and it’s opening up career opportunities, not just for those behind the keyboards.

Northside Independent School District has fully embraced the unique extracurricular activity—schools across the district have developed clubs dedicated to partaking in online video game competitions. Twenty middle schools and 11 high schools in NISD have students who participate in annual gaming tournaments, both remotely and in person. But how did this industry originate, and why is it relevant as an academic endeavor and potential economic opportunity for players?

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Esports debuted in NISD during the spring of 2020 when former Superintendent Dr. Brian Woods noticed developed programs in surrounding school districts. Inspired by what he saw, he began taking steps to implement esports at NISD schools. When the pandemic hit, several schools had online competitions for a video game called Rocket League, which allowed students to remain connected to their schools throughout the quarantine period. From there, the program began to pick up momentum.

By the time students were back on campus, intramural esports was a large success. Middle schools across the district were participating in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros Ultimate competitions and high schools were doing the same, with the addition of Rocket League and League of Legends events.

Current NISD esports competitions are held in both the fall and the spring. In the fall, middle schoolers from the district play in 32-player, one-on-one double-elimination Super Smash Bros Ultimate brackets, competing for eight spots at the championship level. High schoolers do the same, with the addition of Rocket League competitions, in which teams compete for a place in the “Final Four.” From there, the best players compete in their divisions for the title of District Champions. In the spring, middle and high school teams play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and fight for the top four spots.

High schoolers also play League of Legends and compete to be one of the best four teams. By April, the best of the best will be playing at the championship tournament.

As esports continue to grow, NISD Academic Technology esports Coordinator Matt Frymire hopes to establish more of a direct path from middle school esports to the high school level, in order to familiarize young students with the level of competition they’ll face upon entering high school.

In addition, Frymire hopes to grow esports as a UIL event. The rules that NISD esports currently follow were created through a collaborative effort of esports organizers, not from the state of Texas, like traditional UIL-sanctioned organizations or events. Developing esports under UIL would allow for more standardization of gameplay, as well as provide students equal opportunities for scholarships and other benefits.

For students, the rapid growth of the online gaming community displays career options with the potential to be highly profitable. Outside of NISD, esports competitions across the country present gamers with opportunities to play for thousands of dollars. Recording video streams of online gameplay is another common way people monetize gaming. In addition, journalistic coverage of esports is a quickly developing industry with a need for writers and producers pushing for the promotion of esports events.

“A lot of our focus is on the surrounding careers when it comes to esports, specifically broadcast, business management, journalism—putting on the show that is esports,” Frymire said.

He hopes that his work at NISD will help encompass all curricular aspects of esports and that all students interested in digital media find a place to express their passions.

**This article was published through a partnership between KSAT and NISD.

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