Redefining The Game: HBHS ESPORTS

By Sam Ekstedt

May, 20th 2024


What defines a sport has always been a social interpretation. Usually, a sport is traditionally considered something that must involve physical activity. 

The English language, however, is subject to change, and as the world evolves the way we define things naturally changes. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the most widely used and accepted dictionary, defines what a sport is very generally: “A source of Diversion: Recreation.” 

Chess, a mental game, was officially recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee in 1999. However, this decision is still debated ad-nauseum. Still, both the most trusted and updated catalog of how we define our words and a leading expert in what sports are agree that sports aren’t limited to tradition or boxes.

As competitive video games evolved and improved in all gameplay aspects, a culture of passionate people wished to take their hobby to the next level. Stanford University is accredited to have held the first known video game competition in 1972.

At their inception video game competitions were largely informal, but as the years went on these competitions garnered funding and grew mainstream. In 2013, America finally recognized this sport and Esport players became professional athletes. 

During the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, Esports grew with a viewership of over 38 million people, and streaming platforms like Twitch saw an increase in viewership by 70%. 

However, HBHS was ahead of the game before the love of Esports skyrocketed. Inspired by their love of video games and the growing popularity of Esports, students Derin Le, Kyle Duong, among others at HBHS came together to create the HBHS Esports Club in the late 2010s. 

While to this day it is not officially a recognized sport at HBHS and is seen as a club, it still remains a thriving presence at HBHS and is going strong. 


The HBHS Overwatch 2 Team


Esports is an umbrella term for the whole subgenre; in the same way, watersports is a general descriptor for swimming, water polo, and other aquatic sports. Following that logic, the Esports club at HBHS is divided into five teams, each specializing in a different video game.

Currently, the HBHS Esports club has a League of Legends Team, a Valorant Team, an Overwatch 2 Team, a Rocket League Team, and a Rainbow Six Team, and hopes to add a Super Smash Bros. Team next year.

Together, they compete in tournaments that are at the online national level, like the High School Sports Esports League (HSEL), the Network of Academic and Scholastic Esports Federation (NASEF), and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF).

At the ship's helm, each team has a team captain and even a coach in the form of Duong, who has gone on to coach Esports at the Collegiate level. 

Regarding their practices, Aidan Phan, the current Overwatch 2 Team Captain and the president of the Esports Club, said, "Our team meets whenever at least two of our members feel like playing a game together. We just sit in a Discord call on our public Esports server and we play games together." 

Adding to the practices, Phan described how they hold official scrimmages together. These practice games, sometimes against college teams, test and hone the players’ skills and assist coaches and captains to help their players improve at their respective video games.

Chandler Cook, a current HBHS Overwatch 2 team member, said about Phan's leadership, "He was amazing, I mean… I drastically improved because of his coaching."

Many of their members participate in extracurriculars, including APA and MUN, and work outside of school. Due to its online nature making it so they don't have to be physically together to practice, the Esports Club works perfectly with busy schedules. It allows those who, due to various life factors, don't get the benefits of being on a sports team to grow and foster vital skills and connections. 

The HBHS Overwatch 2 team recently celebrated a massive win at the PlayVS Overwatch 2 Youth Pacific Region Tournament. It followed a single-elimination format with seventy-eight other high school teams competing online across regions in North America. 

After the HBHS Overwatch 2 Team secured such a lauded victory, Phan said, "We're number one. It's impressive, and I'm proud of my team because we were playing against players with a dedicated coach, like an actual coach who's paid to make them better. They have funding, some of them have entire facilities just dedicated to Esports."

All of this was made possible by their General Manager and Club Advisor, Mr. Delazzer. With the help of a $6,000 grant from the HBHS Foundation, they were able to purchase high quality computers that were integral in the Esports’ teams training.

When they acquired this equipment, Delazzner recalled being excited, “It felt like, okay this is really happening. It felt like we had a real shot at a team here.” 

Soon, the HBHS League of Legends Team will compete at CIF, and on June 5th Phan will be livestreaming the PlayVS Overwatch 2 Youth Pacific Region Tournament Final. The top prize for the latter being $7,500. 



In the US alone, 65% of Americans play video games regularly; around 212.6 million weekly players are playing, which is expected to grow in the coming years.

The more one looks into what we consider traditional sports like football, it is easy to see the similarities. Players in both cultivate problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, adaptability, and collaboration depending on the video game. 

Esports is a rapidly emerging genre of sport that gives community and camaraderie to people across the globe. Cook remarked, "It's changing the perspective from 'this is just a fun hobby' to 'this is something that can be looked at through a competitive lens.'" 

As HBHS continues to nurture this burgeoning community, Phan hopes "...this program can grow beyond just HB and continue on to other schools in the district." Stating, "One of my players actually goes to Marina, but he plays on the HB Overwatch 2 Team." 

Membership is open to anyone wishing to join the HBHS Esports Club and participate in such a new and exciting opportunity. Together, they are redefining what constitutes a sport and are a testament to the evolving nature of competition and recreation.