E-sports proposal could see kids get inside and play

Column by Jim Benton
Posted 5/29/18

It has almost become run-of-the-mill these days to tune into the news on television or car radio to hear about some decision that leaves you shaking your head. The National Federation of State High …

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E-sports proposal could see kids get inside and play

Posted

It has almost become run-of-the-mill these days to tune into the news on television or car radio to hear about some decision that leaves you shaking your head.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently made news with an announcement that I am having trouble accepting and that has me wallowing around trying to see both sides of the subject.

The NFHS and NFHS Network have entered into a partnership with PlayVS to start e-sports competition in high schools.

Starting this fall, PlayVS will introduce e-sports to high school and state associations with an initial rollout in at least 15 states. After regular-season competition, state championship games will be played before a live audience.

E-sports or electronic sports is a form of competition using video games played on computers, video game consoles and even some arcade machines.

In the NFHS message, it was pointed out that e-sports is a way for students who haven’t been involved in a sport or activity to become involved. And the costs to implement e-sports are minimal compared to starting more traditional sports.

That is a plus for e-sports competition, but I have a big problem with youngsters already glued to devices and playing video games. This plays right into their hands, and I am talking from experience of trying to get my grandsons to take a break before starting another game.

Selection of the right games for high school e-sports competition is critical.

Colorado High School Activities Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green says CHSAA is investigating e-sports competition.

“E-sports is gaining traction across the nation,” she said. “Nineteen states will either conduct or pilot an event next year. Colorado has over 22,000 high school students participating. We are only in the research and learning phase at this time. Current data is reporting that over 200 collegiate institutions are offering full and partial scholarships for student participants. The games will be aligned with mission/vision of educationally based activities.”

The NFHS and PlayVS outlined how the competition will work, starting with games that have been approved by state associations. Each season will consists of preseason, regular-season and postseason competitions, with a state champion being crowned at the end of each season.

Student teams are matched against other schools based on skill level. There will be no traveling and all matches will happen within the walls of their own schools, with competition occurring via the PlayVS online platform.

Each school can field as many teams as they can for as many games in a season. Schools are required to have a faculty adviser, access to internet and computers. And students are required to pay a $16-per-month participation fee.

So I can see it soon where Cherry Creek might be facing Lone Star for the state title or Valor Christian challenging Golden View Classical Academy in a state championship showdown.

Crazy first-place tie

I’ve seen plenty of soccer games that have ended in ties, plus a few horse-racing and NASCAR photo finishes.

I watched another dead-heat finish on May 19 at the state track meet. And this one was for first place in a Class 4A race as Valor Christian’s Dane Palazzo and Wyatt Wieland of Pine Creek tied for first in the 300-meter hurdles.

Both runners lunged toward the finish line and it took more than five minutes to decide that no winner could be determined.

In this day of technology, there is some device available for almost every stride an athlete takes, but the photo that was displayed on the scoreboard confirmed that it was impossible to conclude which runner was first.

Both runners were timed in 38.01.

“It was kind of like one of those things out of a TV show,” said Palazzo. “A tie for first place, it’s just crazy.”

Wieland used the same terminology.

“I knew I had him the entire race but I think he beat me over the last hurdle,” he said. “So I was kind of expecting to see myself in second but to see it was a tie, that was crazy.”

Palazzo said the result of the race wasn’t totally unexpected.

“We knew it was going to be close but it was closer than either of us expected,” he said.

“It is rare that the electronic finish can’t distinguish a solid placement,” said CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green. “The reveal of the picture showed the runners in a dead heat, truly a photo finish.”

NCAA champion

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho, a graduate of Westminster’s Jefferson Academy, won the NCAA women’s Division I championship, which was held May 18-21 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kupcho had a 1-under-par 71 to wrap up the title on the final day after rounds of 65, 74 and 70 on the first three days.

New basketball coach

Castle View High School has hired Jeff Langrehr as its new head boys basketball coach.

Langrehr has accumulated over 300 wins in Kansas, where his career included stints at Great Bend and Gardner Edgerton high schools. He has coached two state championship basketball team and has also been a head baseball coach.

He will be an English teacher at Castle View and his son, Brooks, will be an incoming sophomore.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

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