NEWPORT, Ky. — Esports is coming to Newport High School as the newest sport to be added to their athletic department.
"We felt that this would give our students another opportunity to do something that they may not have normally had an opportunity to do," said Tony Watts, superintendent of Newport Independent Schools.
Esports is more than just playing video games -- with colleges and universities all over the country adding esports teams and actively recruiting members, it's another opportunity for scholarship offerings and a genuine experience competing with a team.
"It's more than just a video game," said Robert Haire, Newport High School athletic director. "They're going to learn team building skills in this. They're going to learn critical thinking skills because they have to plan and prep."
Glenn Platt, professor of marketing and emerging technology at Miami University and co-director of the university's esports program, said scholarship opportunities for esports could even be broader and more accessible than athletic scholarships for sports like football or soccer. In fact, esports is trending as the fastest growing sport, with soccer trailing behind, he said.
"Let's just pick the top 10, top 20 esports universities in the country right now, every one of them are offering scholarships," said Platt. "Most of them are offering full ride scholarships. Some are offering significant numbers of them."
This includes Miami University, which added its esports varsity team to their athletic offerings in 2017.
Newport High School also plans to offer esports as a club for students who want to play, but not in a league. The high school hopes to have the new program up and running for the start of the next school year, when they'll join a list of more than 100 Kentucky high schools with esports leagues.