September/October 2019 - 37

state associations set their costs at $50 to $65 per student.
Mullenioux believes club play adds a more competitive
dimension. Instead of facing schools in a given state, clubs
compete against those across the country and have an
opportunity at a national title.
" You're building a strong foundation instead of it feeling
a bit forced, " Mullenioux said. " (Clubs) can do what they
want to do instead of something they're told to do. I would
love to see it widely accepted as a varsity sport, don't get
me wrong. If it's done right, I think it could be a couple of
years away. If it's done the wrong way, it may set us back a
couple more years. "
Arkansas expects to top 100 schools and 2,000
participants this fall. Alabama's inaugural season featured
44 schools, and Chou said that
could top 100 this year. Georgia
had 43 schools and 462 players
in 2018, which increased to 52 in
the spring with 670 players. This
fall, Penny Mitchell, associate
director of the Georgia High School
Association, anticipates 80 schools
will field teams. Cherese Miller,
the director of student activities
for the Connecticut Association of
Schools, hopes to double the 20
schools that played this past spring,
with an eventual goal of at least 85
schools, allowing for a neutral-site
championship venue.
The Alaska School Activities
Association is sanctioning
esports this year, and the Virginia
High School League will test
a pilot program. The Arizona
Interscholastic Association
postponed its esports league to this
season. Brian Bolitho, business
director for the AIA, said that the
delay was because schools lacked
time to prepare.
Esports still must broaden
its appeal. Thompson had only
eight female gamers on his team
and wishes more were involved.
Chou recalled a presentation
at the national meeting of state
associations in Indianapolis this
summer that focused on esports.
A gamer from New Mexico
suggested the type of games
could drive female participation,
particularly role-playing offerings.
Other minor tweaks are needed,
including better communication
between PlayVS and schools.
PlayVS set the schedules, but
Thompson said there were conflicts
Choose #124 online
COACHAD.COM 37
with schools on break. There also was reluctance from
some schools to turn over their Wi-Fi networks to an
outside party. Chou and Joe Angolia, the communications
director for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association,
said bandwidth usage also concerned schools.
There was skepticism that esports is not a true sport.
But activity associations provide non-athletic activities
and regional-interest sports as well. Kentucky has
bass fishing and dance. Georgia features one-act play,
literary and riflery. New Mexico has chess, choir, mock
trial and rodeo.
" Of course there were people who could not believe
we would do this, " Mitchell said. " We usually are athleticbased.
But then they see how excited their kids are, and
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September/October 2019

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