Esports offers youths new way to connect virtually – San Francisco Chronicle

Esports offers youths new way to connect virtually – San Francisco Chronicle

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — On a typical Tuesday night Seanan AlYasiri and his family crowd around the TV in their living room.

At first glance it may appear they are watching a soccer game — one played with virtual cars instead of people — but in reality they are cheering on Alexi AlYasiri, 10, in a competitive video game called Rocket League.

Alexi, a fourth-grader at North Point Elementary School, is one of dozens of area youths joining Normal’s new esports league that launched in January.

The program, a partnership with Decatur and Champaign parks and recreation departments, seeks to provide a safe environment for kids to compete through video games.

“Because of COVID, things have been a little unique for everybody,” said Seanan. “He (Alexi) doesn’t have access to his friends right now. We thought this would be a great opportunity to increase his social outlets.”

Esports, or electronic sports, is a fast-growing form of organized competition centered around video gaming with amateur and professional leagues around the globe.

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