COVID-19 forces JCPS sports athletes to connect online

Sports is not just fun and games. It’s a billion-dollar industry that will be more profitable every year.

Among the professional, university and secondary circuits, sport is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. And in Louisville, some high school programs are behind the next big wave of players.

At Manual High School, math teacher Jacob Jury is also the head coach of the Crimsons sports team. The Manual program is considered one of the best in town, as it recently won the KHSAA Spring League of Legends championship in May. And while the jury is the coach, he learns daily as he tries to keep up with the advances of the sport.

“I think the technology has evolved,” the jury said. “The potential of all this still amazes me. Like I had just learned about competitive virtual reality sports (virtual reality) and didn’t know that was one thing. Learning about new opportunities always amazes me, and that has to do with getting together and working with students. ”

The jury, like many Jefferson County public school coaches, had to learn about advances in sports when it came to adapting to the pandemic. While video games allow players to connect and compete with each other, not all programs were able to make a smooth transition to online gaming.

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“We had to suspend last year,” Central sports team coach Shawn Canaday said. “The kids just weren’t available because of COVID and we had to lose, so we called. We’ll restart this year.”

Despite being able to play anywhere, a lot of sports are on the side of your team. Not everyone can afford the equipment needed to play at home. If they can’t play on the team in schools, they are often unlucky.

“I think the problem you’re going to start seeing with sports is that schools that have families with more money will have a big advantage,” said Kristopher Blausey, a former Doss sports coach. “We tried to raise funds, but it’s hard to keep up. My students had computers at home capable of doing some of the games, but when the pandemic hit in the middle of the second season, one of our students was left homeless and the our team had to fold. ”

Sports is always evolving and it is important that KHSAA evolves with it. In January, the KHSAA added Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 to its list of games, including Rocket League, League of Legends and SMITE.

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The addition of these games is a sign that sports are becoming more valuable and accepted, while being more competitive.

Millions of people play video games every day, but that doesn’t mean everyone can thrive in competition. So what makes a player, someone normally focused on their own scores, willing to join a team?

Shawn Tumbokon-Flowers, senior of Manual, has been with the team since its inception three years ago. Tumbokon-Flowers, who is also an archer, said his parents had no problem joining the team. Who could blame them? With the increasing popularity of sports, children even go to college to learn about games.

“If you don’t know, my kind of games are where you can be there, do one thing, and then I can leave,” Tumbokon-Flowers joked. “They knew I liked to play and they also know that sports are becoming a real sport. It’s been a long time, so it makes sense for people my age to get involved and be competitive.”

Between hours of practice a day, movie sessions and, according to former Shawnee coach and current Butler sports Bryan Miley, weightlifting sessions, in-game athletes prepare similarly to football players. basketball and baseball.

“We try to operate the same way a physical sports team would work,” Miley said. “We usually have internships three to five times a week.”

Like physical sports, the key advantage among sports programs is usually in the facilities. Although Central and Doss had to fold their programs, schools like Manual and Butler have big plans for the future.

“I was talking to the sporting director here at Butler and they’re very excited about that,” Miley said. “They’re trying to give us our own room, our own lab. They’re trying to give us our own sports locker room.”

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Finally, programs with smaller funds will not be able to keep up. Between even players, the difference between computers could be the difference between winning and losing. But ultimately, players just want to play.

Sports connects people from different backgrounds around the world to learn, connect and have fun together.

“There’s still that kind of niche in games, where the second one I talked about was‘ oh man, you’ve seen the last game or the last patch ’and you can start a conversation,” Tumbokon-Flowers said. “It’s something that unites people.”

Follow Courier Journal journalist JL Kirven on Twitter @JL_Kirven for more updates on Louisville prep sports.

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