When I was 16 or 17, I would have received any number of dirty looks from teachers if I had suggested that we, locally, or the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) hold a Donkey Kong tournament.

Give me a standup console, a gorilla, a bunch of barrels, and, of course, Mario, and I am cooking. Well, I did back THEN; my reaction time NOW is a bit rusty. But in my teens? Oh yes, sign me up. But that was 1982-83. And this is 2023.

Welcome to 2023; It's Mario Kart Tournament Time

Not only can you convince teachers in the 2020s to let you have a Mario Kart Tournament, you don't even HAVE to convince them. It is UNDERWAY.

I have never played Mario Kart, but I have followed Mario his entire career and was very pleased to see the Super Mario Bros. movie explode at the box office. Something like that can only highlight an event like the KHSAA Mario Kart Tournament. Its popularity is secured.

Mario Kart Tournaments Are Part of High School Esports Curricula

If you don't think video games have become such an entrenched part of our popular culture that there are high school curricula devoted to them, then it must be 1997 where you are. Esports is now just as much a part of high school as traditional sports like football, basketball, and soccer. And honestly, Esports have been around so long, they have BECOME part of the tradition. While they actually date all the way back to the early 70s--those of us around back then certainly remember Pong--their momentum went into high gear in the 2000s, according to a report from Southern Illinois Univeristy-Edwardsville:

As the 2000’s rolled around, Esports gained serious momentum. Tournament hosts such as the World Cyber Games and the Electronic Sports World Cup debuted, followed by the launch of Major League Gaming (MLG) in 2002. Today, MLG is considered one of the world’s most prominent hosts in Esports.

The History of Competitive Esports in High Schools

And on3.com explains its recent history and official recognition as a sport by the KHSAA:

Esports have been on the rise for several years now and were recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) as an official sport in 2019. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, with more and more colleges and universities — including the University of Kentucky — starting esports programs and even giving out scholarships.

The Mario Kart Tournament began Monday, April 17th. The semi-finals and finals--scheduled for Wednesday, April 26th--will stream live on the University of Kentucky's Twitch channel.

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