A group of Lovington High School video gamers won’t be competing in state eSport tournaments this season after the Board of Education tabled a motion to approve student participation in eGame competitions early this month.
“This is brand new to the whole state, not just to Lovington,” said Lovington High School Athletic Director and Activity Coordinator Robert Arreola about eGaming.
A group of at least eight Lovington High School students gave a presentation on e-gaming Nov. 13 at the Lovington Board of Education meeting, where school officials and the board discussed the idea.
The group highlighted benefits to student gamers like college scholarships and potential income as a professional in the gaming industry and reported 45 schools in New Mexico are interested in being sanctioned by the New Mexico Activities Association for eSports. NMAA is an organization recognized by the state to regulate elementary and secondary school activities.
NMAA is still determining policies on videogaming competitions as the hobby is a newly recognized activity by the organization, according to a speaker at an NMAA 2018 workshop. Official plans for eSports won’t be solidified until the organization monitors and receives more information on gaming activity, such as who is playing and when, according to an NMAA representative.
Rather than requiring travel like other sports and activities, eGame tournaments require power and network capabilities. General guidelines include the school paying $50 per student per season, which is January through April, and a coach or other representative being available during competitions.
If the group of Loving-ton gamers becomes NMAA sanctioned, the team would compete against other teams across the state. One student said gaming competitions are beneficial to students who are unable to participate in physical sports.
Lovington Board of Education secretary Mara Salcido said schools must move along as technology develops to keep students engaged. Salcido said providing students with a variety of activities their interested in is necessary with bullying and a social media take over.
“These are the kids that don’t fit in,” Salcido said. “I worry about them losing a safe space. It’s a place for kids to feel comfortable being themselves.”
Lovington High School assistant principal Pamela Quiñones said she was indecisive about the request and there wasn’t enough information to approve the team yet.
“I’m old-fashioned. I have reservations with kids being on their phones and playing games,” she said.
Board of Education vice president Paul Campos had questions about how students spending time playing video games would impact their communication skills and how they would interact with non-gamers. Lovington Municipal Schools Superintendent LeAnne Gandy wondered about safety and management.
“Whenever technology is involved, it has to be heavily monitored,” Board of Education president Greg Maxie said.
Other actions at the Nov. 13 board meeting included approval for the robotics team to travel to Dallas, Texas, for a Nov. 28 competition. The board also approved installation of cellular tower equipment on an existing tower located on school property that Gandy said will provide better service in the area.
Gandy announced that cameras for school buses that were approved for installation at a past meeting will be installed Nov. 26. There will be one front-facing camera and four cameras installed inside of every public school bus.
Gandy also announced national speakers are scheduled to give lectures on child sexual abuse and trafficking Dec. 6 at both Taylor Middle School and Lovington High School.
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