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The latest way to earn a varsity letter in Pennsylvania? Competitive gaming

Esports Scholarship Inequality
Otto Kitsinger
Students work in the control room during an esports match in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday, March 4, 2021.. Colleges and universities rushing to invest in the booming arena of varsity esports are overwhelmingly committing opportunities and scholarships to male players, according to data collected by The Associated Press. Boise State was among the more equal schools in the AP's survey, with 16 male players, five female players and three who identified as nonbinary.(AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

The world of esports, or competitive video gaming, has grown in recent years, spurred by the isolation caused by the pandemic.

And now, the third-largest school district in Pennsylvania is getting into the game.

Central Bucks School District is set to launch the district’s first esports team at Central Bucks East High School next semester.

Brian Merrill, education technology analyst for the district, said it can provide a structured environment for students.

“Kids are looking to engage in these activities already. They are playing video games anyway. This would give us a way for the students to participate in that in a structured environment, a safe environment,” he said.

“And then also, give kids who maybe aren’t interested in other extracurriculars – that aren’t into drama or music or traditional sports – and give them an avenue to be anchored back to their school.”

The district is partnering with Metro Esports to bring game-centric education to more than 17,000 students.

Ari Evans, director of esports for Metro Esports, said as the field grows, so do jobs — like building online networks and broadcasting tournaments.

“What we are trying to do is create a channel between the students of Central Bucks School District of the upcoming generation and a lot of these careers and opportunities available in the area,” Evans said.

The high school team will compete in Pennsylvania’s Interscholastic Esports Association. The district plans to use its team as a template and expand to other schools in the future.

More than 100 colleges throughout the country offer esports teams.

Some, like DeSales University in Upper Saucon Township, offer scholarships for esports players.
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