Sunday, May 16, 2021

While recreational and competitive sports leagues are ubiquitous in our community and schools, the Jewish community has had limited exposure to growing trends in esports. It’s not just about playing video games anymore—in recent years competitive esports have been a ticket for admission and academic scholarships in many colleges and universities across the country. Esports also provide an opportunity for many students to represent their schools and communities, who would not typically be able to compete in conventional sports leagues. Furthermore, top professional gamers take in millions of dollars through tournament prizes and game channels.

Launched in 2019, Concorde Education provides unique learning experiences to engage students in interests that establish a pathway to college and develop skills of the future. Concorde works with many private and public schools throughout the U.S., and also has direct offerings to parents and children. Concorde classes include game development coding, drone coding and digital arts.

With the impact of COVID, many schools’ athletic programs have been shuttered or severely limited. Educators looking for new ways to engage students in extracurricular activities have found esports to be a compelling way to connect with students in the age of COVID. Many public and private schools already have begun to flirt with the idea of offering esports and have utilized Concorde’s services to set up training programs and manage related curricula. All of Concorde’s coaches have extensive backgrounds in the field of esports, either as ranked players in their respective game forums, or by managing collegiate or semi-professional esports teams.

Popular esports games include NBA 2K, Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers and League of Legends. Coaches work on reinforcing the fundamental skills necessary for students to succeed both as individual players and in a team environment. Coaches introduce students to the importance of coordinating strategies and playmaking. Concorde’s program is designed to focus on more than just video-game skills. They have incorporated 21st-century learning skills into their esports curriculum to create a more robust educational offering. In addition to their coaches, Concorde has developed a large network of STEAM educators to instruct students on some of the essential academic topics that are important in the world of esports, including but not limited to graphic design, digital (video/audio) editing and photojournalism/broadcasting.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said John Holub, director of educational development. “I had one parent come to me recently and tell me that their child often felt isolated because he never found his match in traditional sports, while his friends were actively involved on various teams. For him, esports has not only been a place where he feels comfortable being part of a team but it has also boosted his confidence overall.”

Concorde recently began working with several yeshiva day schools to provide esports programs, but there have been limited opportunities for competition beyond each individual school. Concorde’s hope is to set up a yeshiva esports league that is as established as day school leagues for basketball and hockey. The goal is to have at least eight to 10 schools signed up for the fall. Concorde is also setting up sessions with small, individual groups.

If interested in learning more about Concorde’s esports programs or other STEAM-inspired curricula, contact: [email protected].

By John Sherman