Utah high schools sanction e-sports as official activity

The UHSAA announced the decision Monday.

(Thibault Camus | AP) A general view during the final of the League of Legends tournament between Team G2 Esports and Team FunPlus Phoenix, in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. E-sports, competitive multi-player video gaming, has been sanctioned as an official sport in Utah high schools.

The Utah High School Activities Association on Monday added a new sport in the state, and students don’t even have to be athletic to participate.

The UHSAA board of trustees unanimously sanctioned e-sports for its high schools, a decision it called “groundbreaking” and marked “a significant milestone in the Association’s efforts to provide increased opportunities for student engagement.”

E-sports — generally competitive, multiplayer video games that may or may not be related to traditional sports — have been rising in popularity among young people with the advent of the internet and streaming websites such as Twitch and YouTube. Some popular titles include NBA 2K, FIFA and Overwatch. People have become professional e-sports players, and there are several tournaments that occur throughout the world.

In Utah, e-sports will begin as a sanctioned sport in the 2025-26 school year, per a news release. The season will run from January through April.

“E-sports provides a unique avenue for student engagement and competition, and we believe it has the potential to enrich the high school experience for a wide range of students,” Rob Cuff, executive director of the UHSAA, said in a statement.

The UHSAA’s release did not mention what games would be available to high school students, or how many schools will participate in the inaugural season. But schools are already participating on a club basis.

Ken Garff E-sports boasts 42 high schools that participate in its network, including Alta, Bingham, Taylorsville, Roy and Hurricane.

“We believe that e-sports has the power to bring students together in new and exciting ways, fostering teamwork, strategic thinking, and leadership skills,” Cuff said. “By embracing esports as an official activity, we hope to provide students with opportunities for growth and personal development both on and off the virtual battlefield.”


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