Exclusive Q+A: Connecticut Becomes First State To Support High School eSports

EXCLUSIVE Q+A: CONNECTICUT BECOMES FIRST STATE TO SUPPORT HIGH SCHOOL ESPORTS

EGF's Pilot High School Program (Photo: EGF)

EGF's Pilot High School Program (Photo: EGF)

TNL Take: Professional eSports leagues mimicing traditional sports leagues? Check. Colleges giving out eSports scholarships? 50+ schools and counting

Where's the next batch of eSports athletes going to hone their skills for future play? Just like traditional sports: High Schools.

Connecticut becomes the first state to bring eSports throughout its high schools via the Electronic Gaming Federation's (EGF) partnership with the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS). 

Just like traditional high school sports, various high schools will compete in a 8 week regular season, culminating in a state championship to qualify for EGFH's national tournament.

The following is a TNL Exclusive Q+A with Tyler Schrodt, EGF's CEO about the partnership and what it means for eSports overall.

EGF CEO Tyler Schrodt (Photo: EGF)

EGF CEO Tyler Schrodt (Photo: EGF)

/01 TNL: There has been a lot of activity in the collegiate eSports space but very little at the high school level. What do you see in this opportunity?

TS: EGF started with a basic mission - build the next generation of the NCAA for eSports. In almost every conversation we've had with a college, high school comes up, and often the context of what a college can do around their local community or how esports can help them recruit the next generation of students so this was just a natural evolution. 

For us, high school has always been a part of our development roadmap, it's just happening faster than I could've predicted because of the amazing partners we've found. 

We take a lot of inspiration from traditional sports and when you compare eSports to the current sports infrastructure, we're still a ways away from that level of stability but we're excited to help build it.

 

/02 TNL: What does the partnership with Connecticut entail and why were they first?

TS: We started working with teachers from Connecticut in the first part of 2016. As we got more involved, we made the decision to extend the operations we'd developed with our collegiate league to high schools.  After working together on several local tournaments, we ran a pilot season in the Spring of 2017 and that ultimately lead to our partnership with the state.

Connecticut provides a unique environment to start this in because of the diversity of circumstance in a relatively small geographic area. For example, there's a wide range of socioeconomic status represented in Connecticut and one of our national goals is to make esports accessible to every student who wants to participate. We'll have the opportunity to experiment with potential solutions to a wide range of challenges in Connecticut that we hope we'll be able to employ in other states and countries as they join EGFH.

 

/03 TNL: How important is it that this is an “official league” with administrative backing?

TS:I think it's incredibly important. Administrative buy-in means you can make continuous progress towards what eSports can become without having to start over every four years when a student graduates. I truly believe that eSports and gaming in general can be an incredibly powerful platform to bring together communities from all over the world and provide incredible opportunities to people - but it's difficult to build on shifting sands. 

eSports In High Schools (Photo: EGF)

eSports In High Schools (Photo: EGF)

/04 TNL: What’s the relationship with UConn tied to this?

TS: All of this actually started because of UConn - a former professor to one of my staff connected us to what they were originally doing and kicked off the whole evolution of our work in Connecticut. UConn's been a part of our collegiate league for a long time as well so we were really excited to be able to partner with them in Connecticut for EGFH.

When we were running our pilot season in the Spring, we held the statement championship tournament at UConn and they offered to provide scholarships to their School of Engineering to the state champions. We were absolutley blown away by that partnership and we're fortunate to be continuing that partnership into the launch of the first season in March 2018.

 

/05 TNL: I have a 9 year old son that’s obsessed with Minecraft and I truly believe that the game will be integrated into elementary school curriculum at a certain point. Can this be built at the foundation within elementary schools?

TS: Absolutely.  We actually get a lot of requests from middle schools within the same districts that we work with at the high school level and although we don't currently have plans to build a middle school league, we have made exceptions to allow younger students to be a part of high school programs.

We want eSports to work as a platform for students - you may follow the obvious path of aspiring to play on a team and someday join a pro team, but you may just want to pursue a career in esports and that requires educational infrastructure.

We've actually already started working with schools to build experiential learning curriculums. Programs are often student run so our the working model is to enable a student to take something they learn in a classroom and apply it directly to a real life scenario right after school. 

We also run a broadcaster training program in collaboration with some pro casters so students have the opportunity to learn to become a caster/host and then through us they can actually work as paid talent in our tournaments.

 

/06 TNL: Now that Connecticut is on board, other states have to be examining this also. What’s next?

TS: In the coming months and years we'll be working with other states across the country to become part of our national league.  There's a lot of work to be done and we're really looking forward to the challenge and you can expect a ton of announcements from EGF with regards to high school and college soon.

 

Thanks Tyler!

TNL eSports Podcast 021: Beyond The Whistle Interview

TNL ESPORTS PODCAST 021: BEYOND THE WHISTLE INTERVIEW

TNL eSports Podcast 021: Beyond The Whistle Interview (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL eSports Podcast 021: Beyond The Whistle Interview (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL Take: These are the best Podcast show notes I've ever seen so it's a direct copy from the McCants Sports website  run by President Odell McCant's and was a fantastic chat. Hope you enjoy it.

PODCAST LIST

SoundCloud

iTunes

Google Play

Stitcher

TuneIn

 

On this episode of the podcast I chat with Manny Anekal, Founder and CEO of The Next Level, which covers the business of eSports and owner of eSports team Versus Sports. Manny is THE guy to discuss what’s happening in the world of eSports. If eSports is new to you, Manny gives a great, quick eSports 101. He and I also discuss the NBA’s investment in eSports, the growth of eSports at the collegiate level, career opportunities in eSports and much more.

eSports is more than gaming. It’s a sport and a growing, $600 million business.

If you wonder why kids will sit watching YouTube videos of another person playing their favorite video game you don’t have to look any further than the money trail. One of the most popular YouTube personalities made between $6 million and $7 million last year. It’s become a very real business opportunity, not just for the players but also for investors. Eight NBA teams, including the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards, have invested in eSports teams. This is in addition to the NBA’s eSports league to launch in 2018 based on the NBA 2K game. On this episode of Beyond the Whistle, Manny Anekal tells us about a wide variety of roles that can be filled in the rising eSports industry and gives his advice how you can get involved in a very successful career in eSports.

 

Minecraft is more than a game – it’s an eSport that builds skills for the real world.

In this conversation with Manny Anekal, he and I discovered something we have in common – we each have a son who absolutely LOVES the game of Minecraft. And while many parents feel that they should restrict their child’s consumption of video games, Manny pointed out how the skills that are developed while playing Minecraft are in high demand in the real world, so much so that many school districts are using it as a curriculum to help kids develop logic and reasoning skills that are needed to fulfill some of the most demanding roles in the world, like computer programming and software development. Listen to our conversation to learn more.

 

The eSports job market and how you can get in.

If you can think of a position or role in the world of traditional sports, there’s likely a counterpart in the eSports world that you could pursue. From players, to sales, to agents, to managers and coaches, the need for individuals with skill sets to fit the demand is rising as the eSports industry itself grows. On this episode, Manny Anekal explains how you can become an in-demand person in the industry and what it takes to get there. Take Manny’s advice seriously. The eSports space is already tremendously crowded so you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to get into eSports on a professional level.

 

Focus on what you want and make yourself into an expert. That’s how to rise in eSports.

When I asked Manny Anekal what he recommends to those who want to pursue a career in eSports he said it’s like pursuing a career in any industry. Decide what it is that you want to pursue then do everything you can to become an expert at it. So when it comes to eSports that advice applies to being a player, manager, sales person – you name it. You need to learn what is needed to fit the role and the industry and be the best at it. That’s one of the many pieces of advice Manny offered on this episode. So if you’re at all interested in being a part of the rise of eSports, this episode is for you.

 

EPISODE OUTLINE

[0:41] Why eSports is big business and a real thing.

[4:29] How Manny got involved in the eSports business.

[10:01] How are fans consuming eSports contests?

[16:13] The rise of eSports on the shoulders of kids who love Minecraft.

[19:10] Why basketball franchises are leading the way in eSports.

[26:21] The rising job market within the rise of eSports.

[30:37] The role colleges are playing in the rise of eSports.

 

RESOURCES AND PEOPLE MENTIONED

University of Utah eSports

NBA 2K eLeague

Twitch

Vision Venture Partners – Rick Fox’s Private Equity Firm

[Ed: What I recommend to all eSports Athletes on VS Sports to learn about business in general. Disclaimer: VS Sports is part of the Versus Sports company which includes The Next Level ]

 

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