Get in the Game

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Players get ready for their match at the 4-H University esports competition. Photo by Brian Gautreau

In a world where technology is continuously evolving, traditional notions of competition are also changing. Louisiana 4-H embraced this shift by introducing esports as a new and exciting contest at 4-H University, allowing youth to showcase their skills, teamwork and sportsmanship in the virtual realm.

Esports is not just about playing video games; it encompasses a wide range of skills and abilities, from strategy and problem-solving to communication and collaboration. Participants learn to work as a team, communicate effectively, manage their time and develop a competitive spirit while maintaining good sportsmanship.

“I learned how to work as a unit with my team, by communicating with each other so we were aware of what the other player was going to do while preparing for the Rocket League tourney at 4-H U,” said Tucker Habetz, a competitor from Lafayette. “Esports added much more pressure for me and made it much more exciting to compete. It adds an element to the game that you can’t normally get from just playing at home.”

Eleven teams from 10 parishes participated in the first 4-H esports competition in its inaugural year.

The game played this year was Rocket League, a soccer-like game where teams of three control rocket-powered cars to direct an oversized ball into their opponent’s goal. The game is played internationally by more than 80 million people and is an esports title recognized by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.

“Rocket League is a fun, challenging game that can be enjoyed by newcomers as well as older players,” Tucker said.

Esports is also an avenue to get kids engaged with one another in a positive way. Engagement in afterschool activities boosts academic success and reduces harmful behaviors – esports included.

“The inclusion of esports also broadens the horizons for young people who may not have previously engaged with 4-H. It's an opportunity for students with diverse interests to come together, learn and compete in an environment they are passionate about,” said Todd Tarifa, 4-H Youth Development department head. “We’ve heard from youth how they want us to offer new opportunities, and this contest is a direct response to that youth voice.”

Additional titles and opportunities will be added as esports continues to grow. Central to any new title is giving youth the opportunity to learn, grow and compete in a positive atmosphere.

3/5/2024 10:12:09 PM
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