Esports in high school: A closer look at newest AIA sanctioned activity

Arizona in Focus is a podcast from Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS. Each season we dive deep into a particular topic or story to bring you stories you haven’t heard elsewhere. Check out the rest of our episodes here, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud.

In this podcast, Christian Thurley speaks with Coronado High School athletic director Brandon Larson, as well as the school’s instructor for the esports team and gaming club, Austin Nichols, about the recent decision by the Arizona Interscholastic Association to move back the inaugural esports season to fall 2019.

Among the topics addressed are the difficulties that were faced trying to get the season started in the spring and why the season was ultimately moved back.


The AIA is introducing two games for its inaugural season: Overwatch and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. Many schools around the Phoenix metropolitan area will only participate in Smash Ultimate out of concern about introducing first-person shooter games to a school environment.

Nichols said that esports has the potential to be “on the level of other AIA sports like football and basketball in terms of popularity.” Tune in to hear what the future of gaming will look like in Arizona.

This podcast contains audio from Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch. This podcast has no affiliation to Blizzard Entertainment.

Listen to Arizona in Focus on Soundcloud.