Building a Future through Competitive Gaming - Esports

Building a Future through Competitive Gaming - Esports

Math Teacher & esports Director of Franklin High School - LAUSD East, Region North Board District 2

Testing out the principles of flight!
Franklin wins the Pacific Champions for Super Smash Bros.
Ultimate in the Spring of 2021.

A decade ago, I could not have imagined competitive video gaming would have any foothold in K-12 education or extracurricular. Yet here we are in 2024 where sites like Twitch and Youtube have captured our youth’s attention over traditional broadcast TV. According to the Pew Research Center, a staggering 90% of teenagers say they play video games through a cell phone, console or computer! Now imagine a way to capture the minds of those same teenagers through competitive gaming. Enter esports.

Franklin places 2nd place in the CIF Championships for Super Smash Bros.
Ultimate in the Spring of 2021.

Competitive video gaming, also known as esports, has barged onto the scene with thousands of high schools nationwide participating in competitions on a weekly basis. Our school (Franklin High School) decided to join this wave four years ago, not knowing the growing giant it was slowly becoming. I had simply created this club out of my own passions, as I also grew up gaming and competed in local tournaments during my time at UCLA.

But four years in, I can see the positive outcomes our alumni have benefited from the exposure in gaming and technology. Our students in esports are clearly more versed and computer literate than their fellow peers. Some are able to build and modify their own computers whereas others have entered STEM majors to further their drive and curiosity in the creation of video games themselves. Nearly all my competitors are high academic achievers and by being a part of esports, they are surrounded by college-bound future graduates.

Learning how to build a computer
Franklin celebrates the end of the year with their 2021 trophies
and achievements.
Jerseys donated by alumni.

Our current alumni, August Flores, who has come back as a hired coach and tutor with our UCLA After-School program had this to say: “Without esports, I don’t think I would have majored in computer science. I was so curious about how the games I played were built and made.” He explained too that the friendships he made in the club have become long-lasting beyond high school and he is still in touch with them to this day.

There is something unique about how complex problem solving in gaming pushes our students to find creative solutions in all aspects of their lives. Being a part of a team has only enhanced my students’ abilities to collaborate, communicate, and critically think to map out strategies to defeat their opponents.

As we enter our fourth year of esports, we hope to continue to give our students new opportunities and access. This year, our Rocket League team hopes to compete for the National Championship in Kansas City, Missouri to obtain up to $20,000 in college scholarships!

Learning how to build a computer
Franklin esports celebrates the end of the 2023 season and continues to grow bigger each year.

As a fellow educator and colleague, I know the battle of electronic devices well in my own classroom. We are challenged by students constantly glued to their devices with gaming and social media. It is inevitable that the modern student needs to manage their screen time to be successful in today’s digital era. However, we cannot be afraid of our students’ weaknesses and must find innovative methods to change it to their greatest potential and strength. I hope and challenge you to embark on this journey with me to take our students into uncharted waters of the digital world. As they say in gaming, good luck and have fun!