Esports Frequently Asked Questions

This page offers answers to some common questions concerning esports that have been asked regarding the IHSA’s involvement with esports programming.

  1. What is esports?
    "Also known as electronic sports, esports is a form of competition that is facilitated through computer gaming.  Most commonly, esports takes the form of organized, multiplayer online video game competitions.  These competitions often incorporate live broadcasts with commentary and award prize money to competitors.  Esports is also one of the fastest growing sports in the world."  (NASEF, Resources, FAQ https://www.esportsfed.org/resources/faq/)
  2. When will the IHSA offer a state series in esports?
    At this point, the IHSA Board of Directors has authorized the formation of an Advisory Committee to examine what a future state series in esports could look like for IHSA member schools.  Ultimately, the IHSA Board of Directors will determine if and when an esports state series will be offered.  IHSA Policy would require that at least 81 schools (10% of the IHSA membership) are participating in esports before the Board of Directors could consider conducting a state series in the event.  Over the course of the 2019-20 school year, additional work by the IHSA esports Advisory Committee, IHSA Staff, and IHSA Board of Directors will determine the future of the activity.  It is hoped that by the spring of 2020 some kind of decision on whether a state series will be offered in the 2020-21 school year will be made.
  3. What is the 'Emerging Sports and Activities' List and how does it impact esports?
    The IHSA 'Emerging Sports and Activities List' is important because it serves as a mechanism for the IHSA to monitor how many schools participate in the activity.  Schools can add their name to the list by completing the 'Emerging Sports and Activities' Form in the IHSA Schools Center.  Schools with questions on how to find the form can contact LeAnna Mutchler (lmutchler@ihsa.org) at the IHSA Office.
  4. What games will be played if/when the IHSA offers an esports state series?
    The IHSA esports Advisory Committee is currently working on which game or games may be a part of the state series, if and when that time comes.  The advisory committee recognizes that students enjoy different games, and that different games require different skills so the hope of the committee is to create a state series that offers a range of games (5 v. 5, 3 v. 3, 2 v. 2, 1 v. 1) in order to maximize student participation at each member school.  However, the committee also recognizes that some games are not appropriate for high school players, so in general, 'shooter-type' games are not being considered by the advisory committee.  Games like League of Legends, Rocket League, and Super Smash Brothers are the kinds of games being considered at this time, but this does not represent an inclusive list.
  5. What kind of hardware does a school need to form an esports club or team?
    Hardware and internet connectivity are key components to having a successful esports/gaming club or team.  Suggested system requirements for some popular games can be found here.  Schools will need to determine what they can provide to assist with the club or team’s formation.  If schools have questions about necessary equipment, they are encouraged to contact the IHSA Office.
  6. If a student plays in esports/gaming tournaments outside of his/her school and wins prizes, including money, will that impact their high school eligibility in esports?
    Should the IHSA Board of Directors approve a state series in esports, they will also determine whether the program is considered an activity or sport.  If esports is considered a sport, then students would be required to follow the association’s amateur rule (IHSA By-law 3.080), which would limit any prizes a student could win playing esports.  However, the amateur rule only applies to athletic competitions, so if esports were classified as an activity, students would be able to win prizes, including money, and retain their eligibility in esports.
  7. How can a student encourage his/her school to start an esports club or team?
    Unfortunately, there isn’t one way or path a student should follow to investigate starting an esports club or team at his/her school.  A good suggested starting point, though, would be for the student(s) to speak with a member of the school's administration (principal, athletic director, activity director) to see what the process is at the school to form a new club or team.  Having an idea of student interest in the future program before meeting with school administration may help so students may want to gauge the interest of their peers prior to their meeting.
  8. Is there a contact at the IHSA to discuss esports if our school has additional questions?
    Schools or individuals with questions can contact Kurt Gibson (kgibson@ihsa.org) at the IHSA Office.