Green Bay forming youth esports program
By John McCracken
GREEN BAY – Local youth ages 8 and older can soon go head-to-head without meeting face-to-face thanks to Green Bay’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry’s Esports program, launching next year.
The city has begun registration for its video game league in partnership with GGLeagues, a Chicago-based company with an online platform for recreational competition.
Registrants can play in single leagues for titles like the battle royal phenomenon “Fortnite,” “Madden 21,” Fifa 21,” or can team up with friends in a beginner’s or competitive 3v3 league for “Rocket League,” the fast-paced arcade soccer meets monster-truck rally title.
Jeremy Crees, recreation supervisor with the city parks department, said the new league is a way to connect and compete despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s an opportunity for people in the community to still compete without face-to-face contact,” Crees said.
The league is completely remote, with no plans for in-person gatherings, as of yet.
Registrants do not have to live in the city, unlike other programs, because Crees said he hopes to connect the surrounding communities virtually.
Esports is an explosive industry, expected to be worth $1.5 billion by 2023.
Communities across the state have started recreational leagues.
The villages of Germantown, Little Chute and Grafton partnered with GGLeagues this winter.
For some competitive youngsters, Green Bay’s initiative could be a gateway to unlock real world bounty as they age.
Ashwaubenon West De Pere and Bay Port high schools are three local schools that already have blossoming button smashing leagues.
These campuses are a part of the Wisconsin High School Esports Association, which had 44 members as of fall 2019.
Students across the country have seen an uptick in scholarship opportunities, based on their gaming chops, with more than 170 universities forming esports leagues.
According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, member schools have awarded more than $16 million in scholarships to student-athletes.
Lakeland University in Plymouth, Carroll University in Waukesha and the University of Wisconsin-Stout all have launched competitive Esports leagues in the last two years.
Some of those campuses have renovated space for state-of-the-art, on-campus gaming centers. All three schools belong to the NACE.
UW-Green Bay currently offers an intramural recreational video game league.
Registration for the 2021 winter season closes Jan. 6.
Matches will be held Saturdays from Jan. 16 to Feb. 20.
Crees said he anticipates having multiple leagues throughout the year moving forward, aiming to keep the selected games friendly and the competition fierce.
For more information, visit greenbaywi.gov/1197/E-Sports.