Esports at Friends Select


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Inquiries for the addition of niche sports teams at Friends Select are nothing new: students have asked to start sailing, golf, and squash teams in the last five years. Now, Alex Ginsberg ‘22 has another obscure proposal for the Athletic Department. Alex hopes to start an esports team at Friends Select, and believes he can get enough players together to have a club team by the spring of this school year. 

When students heard about Alex’s idea, they had one main question: what is esports? Esports is a broad term for all competitive gaming; this includes all online and console multiplayer games in which individuals or teams compete to win a game or score points. Popular esports across the world include Overwatch, League of Legends, and Rocket League, all of which have major international leagues that are broadcast on streaming services like Twitch. Esports have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years: according to Reuters, various esports leagues combined to collect $1.1 Billion in global revenue in 2019. 

Some students interviewed by The Falcon are skeptical of esports as a part of the athletic department, as there is no physical exercise involved. Lucy Kelley ‘22 suggested that the inclusion of esports as sports at Friends Select would “undermine the hard work of student-athletes who push their bodies.” However, Alex thinks that esports require the same qualities as many other sports: “Teams need to be very cohesive, and they need to have as much teamwork as traditional sports,” he says. Alex pointed out that Connecticut has a state-sanctioned high school esports championship, and that Ivy League schools like Penn and Yale offer esports scholarships.

Although students like Lucy have reservations regarding esports, Alex’s proposal has some administrative support. Athletic Director Bill Klose told The Falcon that he would “absolutely” support esports “if there were enough students behind it to field a team.” Friends Select’s backing of esports depends less on personal opinion and more on its accordance with the school’s Quaker values. The most popular esports games (Overwatch and CSGO) both center around gun violence and warfare-style strategy, which both Bill and Dean of Students Norman Bayard say they would not support. Alex says that the only game he’d like to see at FSS is Rocket League, which is a three player per team soccer game played by player-controlled customized luxury cars. The school could likely field a Rocket League team tomorrow: Jeremy Cohen ‘21, Henry Fogg ‘20, and Nick Hurwitz ‘21 already play as Team Echo, and Alex plays too.

If the school does approve esports, Alex can expect the support of the student body. In a recent Falcon Instagram poll, 68% of 37 participating students said they’d like to see esports at Friends Select. “Even though I won’t participate in it, I’m for the idea,” said Charlie Chen ‘23.