California's governing body for high school sports expressing interest in esports

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ORANGEVALE, Calif. (KTXL) -- The California Interscholastic Federation, which is the governing body for all high school sports, is expressing interest in the expanding scene of esports.

“Out of the ordinary, right,” Casa Roble High School Athletic Director Tory Paoli told FOX40. “It’s not something you’d expect to be considered a sport.”

It’s already a big business at the professional level and more than 60 colleges are now offering teams and full-ride scholarships. It makes sense that high schools like Casa Roble in Orangevale have programs now.

“I had an interesting meeting in the fall and I had about 20 kids show up," Paoli said. "And I found a coach and we just took it from there."

California’s governing body for high school sports has spent the last year and a half taking a closer look at esports programs at the high school level. What they found was it’s not much different than the traditional sports they govern.

“When you look at the skills it develops, critical thinking skills, the problem-solving skills, and they’re problem-solving as part of a team,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said.

“The more that we looked into it, the more we went out and watched and followed a team at an event and saw, ‘Hey, they plan for the opponent they’re playing. They can watch what their opponent does online in advance and strategize,'" Nocetti said.

California has close to 1,700 high schools and a few more than 200 are now participating in esports. That number is expected to greatly increase in the next few years.

“Yeah, I’d definitely like to see a lot more people join. It would be pretty cool,” said Casa Roble freshman Hunter Anderson. “More competition would be nice.”

For now, esports is not a ‘sanctioned’ sport by the CIF but that could soon change. It’s also opened sponsorship opportunities. The CIF recently announced a partnership with HyperX, a gaming peripherals manufacturer.

“I believe that it is the future and that I’m glad we’re one of the first ones in our area that are doing it,” said Paoli.

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