A proposal to introduce esports and unified bowling next fall at Salina Public Schools was presented at the Tuesday night USD 305 school board meeting.
According to the district, the new programs would be co-ed and both would be funded by revenue generated from advertisement sales.
In 2021-2022, sports advertising expanded beyond programs and game time advertisements to include signage and more at Salina Stadium, natatorium, softball fields and the main gym at both high schools
The proposal will be an action item at the April 12th school board meeting.
Esports (electronic sports) are competitive video games that allow students to play together on a team. It would have two seasons, fall (September-November) and spring (February-April).
“Boys and girls would be on the same teams and compete against each other,” said Greg Maring, athletic director at Central High School. “This is one of the fastest growing activities in Kansas with lots of scholarship opportunities.”
Esports’ benefits include the development of soft skills such as teamwork and problem solving. It is rooted in technology, offering a connection to students’ interest in STEM. Esports offers a wide variety of careers, from on-screen sports analysts to back-end engineers who build the games.
Both Central and South high schools surveyed students, Grades 9-11, about esports. The response was favorable with Central indicating interest at 70% and South at 72%.
Ken Stonebraker, athletic director at South High School, explained, “Through these opportunities, we’re hoping to connect with even more students in an education-based setting where they can experience success.”
In recent years, the district expanded middle school sports and added girls wrestling. Adding more activities means that more students can participate and feel well connected to their school community. By building a sense of belonging, a priority of the district mission statement, the likelihood of students succeeding increases both academically and personally.
Unified Bowling is an inclusive activity that joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. They bowl on the same lane, together, as a team.
“Unified Bowling would be another opportunity that USD 305 offers all students for inclusion, that would ensure they have an opportunity to feel a sense of belonging,” explained Brandi Calahan, coordinator for CKCIE. “It would support the building of friendships outside the classroom setting and more understanding of all differences.”
“All of our sports are an extension of the classroom,” added Stonebraker. “Our extracurriculars are an opportunity for students to work together and help everyone grow.”
Students would bowl preset frames according to Baker format. The season would open for practices in September 2022 with competition following in October and November.