GROVE CITY – Grove City Area School District officials are moving forward with creating an esports program at the high school.

Board members on Monday night agreed to approve the program, starting with the 2019-20 school year.

“I thought it was really nice,” Ryan Thomas said.

He and fellow board member Patty Wilson visited Jared Henshaw’s classroom on Friday to check out the esports concept.

It is organized video and computer gaming, and it is considered a competitive sport. More colleges and universities are offering scholarships based on esports skills, Henshaw reported at last week’s work session.

It’s good for kids who may not be interested in other activities or physical sports, Thomas said, adding that it gives those students something to look forward to.

“It makes school cool for them,” he said.

Wilson agreed, saying it levels the playing field.

“It bridges a nice gap,” said board member Heather Baker.

The high school’s esports program will follow the same guidelines as other sports, like requiring students to maintain a certain grade-point average, though it is not sanctioned by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Henshaw, who hosts esports sessions in his classroom during Lunch and Learn, previously said that he’d be willing to help coach the esports program.

There are opportunities for Grove City students to compete remotely against other schools, and the game can be streamed online in real time.

The initial cost is $1,050, which would pay for webcams, headsets and a few games.

The students won’t be playing games rated “mature,” according to Henshaw and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joshua Weaver. They would stick with games in three categories: everyone, ages 10 and up, and ages 13 and up.

Popular esports games include “Rocket League,” “Overwatch,” “League of Legends” and “Super Smash Bros.” and traditional sports games like football.

The school can apply for grants, and the team will join the North America Scholastic Esports Foundation.

“Esports provides all students with the chance to compete, team build, think critically, communicate, collaborate, strategize, analyze, problem solve and execute,” according to the executive summary that Weaver and Henshaw presented to the board.

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