E-Sports - Not All Fun 'N Games

One of the fastest-growing sports globally does not technically provide any physical exertion, but it can raise heart rates.
Short for electronic sports, esports are team-based video game competitions that can be played and watched in person or online. Like traditional sports, players can wear team jerseys, compete in arenas and communicate with teammates and coaches as the game unfolds. And according to Insider Intelligence, like the sports industry, it is set to become a billion-dollar industry complete with live ticket events, merchandise and sponsorships. 

Last year, when 8th grader Felix Fischer pitched his idea of starting an esports team and elective to Middle School Director Jill Bergeron, she was not thinking about the potential sponsorships and advertising dollars. She was thinking about building the community. “We were in the midst of a pandemic,” says Jill, “and esports created a way to build that community while we were on lockdown.”  

Studies have shown that Esports provides some of the same benefits as traditional sports - teamwork, communication, strategy, and sportsmanship. For Chandler students in Mr. Camargo’s elective this year, the Esports team also helps them further develop their cognitive and problem-solving skills. “Many of the students in this elective participate in sports at Chandler or outside leagues,” says History Teacher Paul Camargo, “so it’s important to me that they have a balance - schoolwork, physical activity, but also a structured class to decompress.” 

Growing up with video classics like Tetris, Mr. Camargo didn’t make the connection to brain development as a kid but now sees firsthand the benefits that gameplay provides. “These students are adept at figuring out strategies to compete and that boosts their self-confidence!” Mr. Camargo is not alone in his beliefs. Research from the Mind Research Network used brain imaging and 30 minutes of gameplay a day and found that, for the science lovers, “functional MRI showed greater efficiency after [playing] in the right frontal and parietal lobes...areas associated with critical thinking, reasoning, and language and processing.”   

According to Reuters Health, while 71% of parents report gaming having a positive impact on their students, there are still the dubious 29% of parents who maybe are neutral or are reluctant. A quick survey of students conducted in class for this feature revealed that only a couple of parents had their doubts about the elective. Rest assured that this elective is not all fun and games. However, there is lots of joy and connection and some brain benefits to boot.