LEXINGTON, Kentucky – High schools across Kentucky have been banning Fortnite from their varsity eSports programs, due to concerns by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) on its reinforcement of gun crime.
Still, the eligibility of this ban is still being contested among athletic circles, especially given the details surrounding Fortnite’s inclusion in the repertoire of high school sporting events.
Fornite, a third-person shooter developed by Epic Games, is well-known for its cartoonish appearance and for having virtually no graphic depictions of gore, thus being adequately appropriate for its younger audience.
Last week, the game was announced as an eSport in the collegiate and high school levels in the US, in partnership with Epic Games and PlayVS, the latter being an organization that mainly provides US schools with eSports programs.
PlayVS hosts eSports competitions in conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which includes the KHSAA.
However, the recent announcement by PlayVS that Fortnite will now be an official eSport in Kentucky high schools agitated Julian Tackett, commissioner for KHSAA.
Tackett emailed Kentucky school administrators to refuse the establishment of Fortnite as an official eSport in state high schools, stating that shooter games have no place in Kentucky schools.
He gave the 2018 Marshall High School shooting incident as an example for the severity of gun violence in Kentucky, which ended in a dozen people wounded and two killed.
Additionally, Tackett claimed that neither the KHSAA, the NFHS, nor the network of associations attached to the NFHS had known about this eSport launch, and disapprove of it unanimously.
According to Tackett, it was particularly distressing that PlayVS’s announcement was made on the anniversary of the Marshall High School incident, which he cites as one of the darkest days of the state.
Finally, Tackett said that Fortnite’s addition to PlayVS’s lineup violates the contract they signed with NFHS. This, he says, jeopardizes the eSports program they had worked hard to develop.
A PlayVS representative said in an email to local news outlets that their organization is currently running a Fortnite national club league on behalf of Epic games. Schools who choose to be involved in the league will be operating separately from their individual state athletic associations.
He further clarified by saying that Fornite competitions in the high school level are effectively outside of their current deals with the NFHS and similar associations.
Despite this clarification, the effect that the NFHS and its subsidiary organizations would have on Fortnite as a high school eSport remains to be seen.
Epic Games has yet to give out their stance on the matter.