Parks Department Looks to Bring E-Sports to Harrison

Brandon Bulsworth Youth Center

After the Arkansas Activity Association (AAA) sanctioned e-sports teams in all Arkansas Schools Chuck Eddingtion, Director of the Harrison Parks and Recreation Department, says he is looking to bring e-sports tournaments to Harrison this year.

E-sports has become a growing sensation around the country with states like Illinois, Alabama and others already sanctioning it in schools. Eddington hopes to bring some major tournaments to Harrison starting this fall. North Arkansas College has already agreed to host the future tournaments, as they have the necessary bandwidth to support these events.

Competitive gaming may be a strange concept to some, but Johnathan Johnson with the Parks and Recreation Department emphasizes that it is a multi-billion-dollar industry. For example the League of Legends World Championship Final sold out the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles in 2013 according to Forbes and some professional gamers are paid salaries that rival athletes in mainstream sports like baseball and football. Prizes at major national tournaments can easily reach into the millions and attract tens of thousands of fans.

Esports is governed by the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis, the same body that oversees all other high school sports. The NFSH gives these guidelines for schools participating in esports:

  • Managed through a partnership with Play VS, Esports will be played in two seasons (Oct-Jan/Feb-May) with different games that have been approved by the participating state association
  • Each season consists of a pre, regular and post season competitions with a state champion being crowned for each game at the end of the season.
  • Student teams are matched up with other schools across the states based on skill level.
  • There is no traveling during the regular season! All matchups will happen within their own school walls with competitions played through the Play VS online platform.
  • Each school can field as many teams as they can for as many games in a season. Schools are required to have a faculty advisor, access to internet and computers.
  • Students are required to pay a $16 per month participation fee

One gaming tournament will take place in Harrison on February 16th, at the Brandon Bulsworth Youth Center. The game played will be the wildly popular “Fortnite.” This tournament is not associated with any school teams or the AAA but is open to individuals ten years and older. Cox Communications has partnered with the Harrison Parks Department to provide the necessary equipment and bandwidth for the weekend of the tournament.

The tournament has garnered interest from across the Ozarks with some players coming from as far as Springfield, MO to play. Gaming tournaments around this area are very few right now, but the Harrison Parks and Recreation Department hopes to change that soon.

For more information on the upcoming tournament visit the Parks and Rec Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/HarrisonParksAndRec/

Both Eddington and Johnson said their hope for the future is to position Harrison as the premiere gaming tournament location in this region, which could potentially bring in thousands of visitors. The main video games used in tournaments at this time are League of Legends, Smite, Rocket League, and Fortnite but Johnson said in the future they plan to recommend other games as well.

Story by: Coleman Taylor

colemansmith@khoz.com

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