Disclaimer : The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.
Esports is a phenomenon that is taking the world by storm. It has been known for its competitions for world famous video games with giant prize pools.
Education institutions are slowly dipping their toes into the world of esports, but as they wait students are participating in this world no matter what. There are many leagues and organizations that cater to the educational scene of esports, enticing students to participate. These organizations bypass any authoritative educational establishment or body that directs students to join. They boast and promise many things under the sun to students for free; however, without adult oversight, a lot of these organizations take advantage of students.
Here is a perfect case: https://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/6r43gn/high_school_starleague_owes_my_team_5000_in/
Here, students were promised scholarship prizing, but were completely ignored when it came time to cash in. It took 5,000 upvotes on Reddit for the organization to kick start action. The post’s mass publicity even received push back from other corporations that the organization said they were partnered with. The corporate sponsors claim that they were either never affiliated or canceled ties years ago. Some organization insiders speculated they were embezzling sponsorship dollars then ran dry once it came time to pay out the promised scholarships. Even if these claims are true or not, it is still a huge mess.
Some organizations claim to be a non-profit, but when you look up their 501(c)(3) status, there is no information to be found. The educational esports scene is turbulent and plagued with ethicalities that are profiting off the backs of students in terrible ways.
Here is a quick 3 part list on how to protect your students in educational esports:
Educational institutions are partly to blame for this, but they are slowly waking up. If they want to properly defend and protect their students, they need to take on esports and have some sort of adult supervision. Clubs need to be established to ensure students are participating in real tournaments that can hold up to their promises. OVERSIGHT IS IMPORTANT!
2. Beware of “Free” tournaments
Tournaments that are free to enter are riddled with uncertainties. Companies that are giving stuff out for free are not a real business. There can be a whole article written on how free tournaments plague amature and educational esports, but that can be saved for another time. More often than not, if a free tournament is offering a scholarship prize pool out of their funds, it is a scam. There is no internal monetary support besides potential sponsors to cover operating costs. Those sponsorship dollars are tempting for smaller organizations. You need to know that if any internal scholarship are offered, that the cut from your entry fee or subscription will go into a scholarship escrow. A lot of organizations don’t even know what that is.
Communication is crucial on all fronts. It all starts with education. Students need to be informed and taught about these dangers to reduce the risk of things like this happening again. Teachers and administrators need to take on an active role in educating students on how to safely participate in the world of esports.
Not only do teachers and administrators need to educate, but they need to be educated themselves. Any organization that students, teachers, and administrators work with should have an awesome support line. Questions need to be asked and answered appropriately. This could range from “What is esports?” to “How can I get my team signed up?” The organization should be there to help you along the way. If they are not, it is probably not a good organization.
With all this said, there are a lot of amazing esports organizations doing great things. The High School Esports League (HSEL) is doing away with all free tournaments and focusing on partnering with high schools across the country to make sure educational administrations are playing a heavy hand in protecting their students. The HSEL wants to help foster the growth of esports in high schools through working directly with school faculty and administration across the nation. The HSEL is the first organization to do this nationwide.
You can learn more here: http://www.highschoolesportsleague.com/
Other organizations are doing great work in pioneering the space at other levels, like college, but HSEL is taking the reins in the high school space.
Edit: If you have not checked out the Twitch Student Program, do so! Twitch is doing some awesome things for students around the world. The HSEL is Partnered with the Twitch Student Program.