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Esports programs offer new opportunities for Louisiana students

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - There’s a new sport that’s helping thousands of kids pay their way through college, and it’s starting to talk hold around South Louisiana.

Esports, or electronic sports, is one of the fastest-growing forms of competition, and several high schools around the Capitol Region are taking notice.

“I know that a lot of parents agree that this is a real avenue now,” said Adrienne Alford, an esports coach at Northeast High School.

Colleges are starting to offer esports scholarships alongside traditional athletic ones. There are already close to 200 colleges that offer some sort of varsity esports programs. Schools like LSU, Southern, and Southeastern are among that bunch.

Alford said this growing billion-dollar industry has created more opportunities for students than ever before.

“Our other coach, he played professionally and that was his whole income for a couple of years and he got to travel the world. This wasn’t an option for me 10 years ago when I was graduating,” said Alford.

For 11th grader Michael Johnson, his goal is to use this as an avenue to pay for school.

“I want to expand this because this is my dream job, to be honest. If I can get a job or get a scholarship for playing video games, that would be cool,” said Johnson. His teammate Cylese Winding said he could see himself doing this professionally.” It would be a part of the plan. Maybe as a hobby or something,” said Winding.

Esports is officially recognized as a sport by the LHSAA.

Alford said the games they compete in are outlined by the state and must have a certain approval rating.

She admits it has been a hard sell to parents to get on board, but she believes this will continue to open doors for students who might not have an opportunity anywhere else.

“There’s a lot of kids that want to be a part of something and because of their athletic ability, or they don’t like instruments, don’t like band, don’t want to cheer, that might not be their personality style and so this could fit them, and they still get that sense of a team and belonging to something,” said Alford.

Alford said the goal is to eventually make this a part of the curriculum where students can east class credit.

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