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by Patty Cheffey
The Palmyra R-I School District is considering a new sport, albeit a different kind of sport.
Although taking no action, the R-I Board of Education heard a personation from Tanner Adams, a social studies teacher at the high school, on what it would take to start an esports program at the high school.
If the program is approved prior to the 2023-24 school year, Palmyra would compete against such schools as Clark County, Hannibal and Knox County, which have already established programs, Adams said.
Cost for the start-up would be minimal as most games used are free, Adams said, but noted there are a lot of variables to consider.
“The biggest startup cost would be purchasing the gaming equipment, which would mostly be PCs at this point,” he said. “As far as individual cost for students, it’s similar to other sports. They will likely want their own controllers and gaming keyboards, but aren’t required to get them. It’s just more of a personal preference thing for the students.”
Games which ideally would be used to start the program include Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League, Overwatch 2, Valorant and League of Legends, Adams said
“There are a lot of options in the esports world, but these games are the most widely played at schools in Missouri,” he said. “MOSEF (Missouri Scholastic Esports Federation) is one of the main governing bodies of esports in Missouri, and they keep everything organized.”
Like other sports, esports would be open to all students.
“There is of course a similar setup in terms of having varsity and junior varsity teams,” Adams said. “The program will be open to everyone, but just like with a football, the top players will compose the ‘starting lineup’ for team games and compete accordingly.”
Competition would vary too, Adams said, noting some games are played as a team and some individually.
“A majority of the games are team based, so students will often play a five versus five or six versus six game, but in the instance of Super Smash Brothers, students can compete individually against other individuals from other schools,” he explained.
“The program promotes communication and teamwork.”
Travel for competition would be varied as well as some of it would be played online from the high school, while other times could be traveling to different locations.
“Coaches communicate to set up matches, and students play one another remotely. In some instances though, students do travel to competitions,” Adams said. “Occasionally schools will host in-house tournaments where they will invite other schools to come to them and use their equipment to compete at the same location. MOSEF will also host playoffs and championship matches at locations around the state.”
Since it is too late to compete this year, the board will make a decision on whether to proceed with the program prior the 2023-24 school year, according to Superintendent Jason Harper.
Meanwhile, Adams said, the students are anticipating the approval.
“The students are very excited about this opportunity, and I am working hard to bring this to the school,” he said.