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Fort Worth ISD enters the esports fray, turning gaming into a learning experience

The North Texas school district kicked off its esports program this week, giving students a chance to take part in the billion-dollar industry.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Editor's note: The video above is from 2019.

North Texas' second-largest school district has entered the fray - of esports!

Gamers in Fort Worth ISD will now be able to turn their favorite hobby into an opportunity for learning, growth and a possible career path with the start of the district's own esports program.

The district kicked off the program on Thursday with an expo that showcased high school students and their new teams in a "mini arena" of gaming galore.

According to Fort Worth ISD, around 100 high school students from 16 new teams took part in Thursday's event to show off their skills in competitive gaming through popular games like Rocket League and Super Smash Bros.

In a news release, the district said it joined the High School Esports League (HSEL), which includes schools from around North America. Schools from Dallas, Frisco and McKinney are among those in the league, as well.

So, how can gaming help these students?

"Reaction time is something that we could use. You never know, could be life or death. Teamwork with other people, it could be a skill within a company working together with others," student Leonel Mendez of Polytechnic High School said at Thursday's event. "Like right here, we're working together as a team to reach our goal."

David Saenz, chief innovative officer at Fort Worth ISD, talked about how esports can help students stay successful.

"It's a growing industry, and it's a growing sport, a growing activity," Saenz said. "As we know, students are successful in our schools and their academics. But in order for them to want to continue being in schools, they need something to grab on to. Esports can serve as that, just like football and fine arts."

The esports industry as a whole is continuing to make a name for itself among the general sporting world. The industry marked its first billion-dollar year in 2021. It's expected to hit $1.61 billion by 2024.

North Texas itself is quickly turning into an international esports hub with the help of Esports Stadium Arlington. 

The annual Esports Awards, which celebrates competitive gaming around the world, was held at the Arlington venue in November. The stadium also hosts numerous esports events that garner international attention online.

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