The fall of ESports


Photo courtesy of Ellie Barnett

Coan Barnett, eighth grader at Irving Middle School, playing ESports late at night.

Many hobbies used during the pandemic have experienced rapidly decreasing interest. This has also applied to electronic sports (ESports). Once popular in the gaming community, the desire for the gaming genre has drastically declined.  

“Initially [the reason I got into ESports] was for the entertainment of watching tournaments, just like one would get into soccer by seeing the World Cup. I decided to give it a try and found I enjoyed [E-Sports]. I’ve been playing to this day, ” said junior Corey Sayers.

Sayers got into ESports during the early months of quarantine when online gaming was a refuge for many during the pandemic. ESports isn’t just a singular video game but includes a range of games that can be played competitively in a professional-like setting such as League of Legends, Valorant, and Super Smash Bros. However, since the pandemic’s effects on daily life has diminished, schoolwide interest in ESports has dropped off.

In the 2021-2022 school year, there were more students interested in ESports than this year. In the 2022-2023 school year, there has not been enough interest to keep the Gaming Skills Improvement Club going. I put out a few messages to the members on Schoology, but there was not enough of a reply to keep things going,” said math teacher and former Gaming Skills Improvement Club sponsor Thomas Troast. 

A key reason for the decline in popularity was the resumption of more conventional activities. With COVID-19 mandates and rules being lifted, many students have resumed their pre-pandemic extracurriculars and left gaming behind. 

“It was an outlet for many because their traditional pastimes and sports were on pause. Now that things are relatively normal, people can’t commit a large amount of time to even attempt succeeding in ESports,” said Sayers. 

Even though interest in the ESports at WS has decreased, there are enough committed players who would like to form a school team. 

”I do love ESports, and I think it has the potential to bring many of the benefits that traditional sports bring if a school-sponsored club or team was managed properly,” said Sayers. 

Sadly, even though students have shown interest in forming a new ESports club, there hasn’t been luck with finding someone to sponsor the program. 

There has been interest in forming an ESports team at our school, but no coach (a position I declined several times over the year),” said history teacher and former Gamer’s Lounge sponsor Christopher Peck.

ESports remain an integral part of life for some students who hope to one day establish the hobby’s presence in the school.