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Brooklyn High School enters gaming world with first eSports tournament

January 10, 2019

Brooklyn High School enters gaming world with first eSports tournament

BROOKLYN, Ohio -- The Brooklyn High School varsity football team hasn’t played a game since October; however, students are still enjoying gridiron contests, thanks to the school’s first eSports tournament, featuring 46 students competing head to head in the Madden NFL 19 video game in The Project Lab.

“I wanted to create something that would be fun and that kids would want to do,” said Brooklyn High School intervention specialist Jeff Jones, who has been an avid gamer his whole life. “I know eSports is definitely catching on with teenagers.

“I liked the idea of setting up tournaments and having kids have that opportunity in school to kind of showcase the skills they do on their own at home.”

Principal Bill Wingler said he thought Jones’ idea was a great addition to school culture.

“eSports has become a very popular activity for this generation of students,” Wingler said. “I think that adding eSports as an extracurricular is beneficial for students in order to meet them where their interests lie. Keeping students engaged in events at school has a positive impact on their achievement.” 

Participation in the eSports tournament was tied to the district’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports) program, which models and rewards positive behavior.

Participating students were selected from a random drawing of tickets they received for getting “caught” being responsible, respectful and productive.

Jones said Brooklyn High School’s innovative Project Lab venue was a perfect meeting space, with a screen and projector provided; however, students on their own had to bring in game systems and Madden NFL 19.

“The kids planned it out and had a blast,” Jones said. “At any given point, you’d have two students playing, with 25 to 30 students in the room engaged with the experience and cheering everyone on.”

One of those students was senior and eSports enthusiast Michael Dickens.

“To see my school bring this out and support it brings me so much enjoyment and happiness,” Dickens said. “It’s finally time for the (eSports) community to get support and exposure.

“Mr. Jones was the mastermind behind the whole thing, so a big shout-out to him for making so many dreams become a reality.”

The eSports tournament finishes up later this month with a final four competition. Jones said he’s already planning an NBA 2K contest for the spring, as well as a Super Smash Bros. tournament before the end of the school year. The latter is aimed at increasing the participation of female students.

Looking ahead, Jones said there’s always a possibility of turning student eSports interest into a varsity-level program.

“There are about 10 schools in the state of Ohio that already do that, so that’s the goal,” Jones said. “This whole year is kind of just gauging interest and showing the district there are kids interested. Ultimately, it’s just about providing a cool opportunity for these kids.”

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