Coaches voice concerns about esports in Oklahoma
ATOKA, Okla. (KTEN) — Competitive video gaming (also known as esports) was recently recognized by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA), but another partnership comes with it.
It’s a California for-profit company called PlayVS, and it is causing concerns in Oklahoma. Just ask Atoka's esports Coach William Bray.
“I just don't think it fits with what we're trying to accomplish here in Oklahoma with our esports program," he said.
PlayVS was brought in to handle championship tournaments, but schools will pay for the privilege. At $64 per student — with a minimum of eight students a game — that's $512 just for one season.
And that's $512 which doesn't stay in Oklahoma.
“Two of the options we have here in Oklahoma, they don't charge for schools to come on board,” Bray said.
Those other options also have the games being played at collegiate level while PlayVS does not. According to Bray and other coaches, PlayVS will handle scheduling, which he said is a big help as the program grows.
At one Tulsa-area school, more than 300 students signed up for esports this year. That was more than their football and band programs combined.
“We love that the OSSAA is giving some legitimacy to the league,” said Todd Borland with the Oklahoma eSports League. “On our board, we have multiple universities represented that give scholarships to kids."
Bray said, he's glad to have gotten validation from OSSAA, but with the school bond voted down Tuesday, he didn't get the same from their city.
"Right now is not the time, we'll move forward,” Bray said “We obviously can't stay in the 20 by 20 room forever. Either we're going to have to have a new facility or we're going to have to knock a wall down."
Even though, the bond was voted down, it's not stopping Atoka from making the improvements they can without the money. Wednesday, they installed over 200 security cameras on campus.
The OSSAA did not return our request for comment.