SCARBOROUGH — With the closing of schools comes the closing of student athletics, but Video Game Madness from Scarborough Community Services, is using virtual sports as a substitute during this time.

Offered to middle and high school students, the weekly video game tournaments are keeping kids involved while at the same time following CDC guidelines, said recreation coordinator Ryan Colpitts. Using their own PlayStation 4 and Xbox consoles, students can play online games like NBA and Madden with their friends and classmates.

A new tournament is created each week, Colpitts said. After ESPN started hosting tournaments, Video Game Madness started gaining popularity in Scarborough.

“It’s completely free, so it’s definitely good for that,” Colpitts said. “It’s just a different thing that kids can do at a time where everything’s kind of up in the air.”

Not every student who participates is on a sports team, he said. Many students are simply fans of the video games.

One participant, Carter Blanche said that he signed up for the tournament when his friend told him about it.

“I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes playing video games, and at a time like this it is great to relieve stress (for) people and get their minds off of what is happening,” he said.

He said that he’s normally involved in the AAU basketball team, Maine Attack, which didn’t get to play any games this season.

“I like that (Video Game Madness) allows us to connect with people and give people something to do instead of being bored the whole day,” Blanche said.

While he’s been having fun, Blanche added that it doesn’t completely fill the space that athletics and in-person encounters do.

“I feel connected but it isn’t the same,” he said. “It is different because we aren’t face-to-face talking. It feels like we are talking to people over the phone.”

Adults have been asking to join in on the action, said Colpitts. Many dads have reached out to him and Colpitts is considering adding an adult league.

Community Services may keep the program around after the Covid-19 situation ends, he said.

“It’s definitely a possibility, a new type of programming for us,” he said. We’ve never done any type of video game tournament. I feel like video games are like, yeah, kids would play them, but there really wasn’t a type of structure or tournaments unless you were an elite player. With time this has definitely opened up an interest, not just sports kids, but kids in general.”

In order to sign up, students need to email Colpitts at [email protected] with the desired tournament they want to play in the subject line. Students are asked to add the following information in the body of the email: name, grade, email, phone number, type of system, and gamer tag/PSN/username.

Emails must be sent before 9 a.m. on the date of the tournament. More information about signing up can be found at sites.google.com/a/scarboroughmaine.org/town/departments/community-services/news/newvideogamemadness.

Colpitts said that students enjoy the flexibility of tournaments. Once he creates teams and sends out information, those students pick a date and time that works for everyone.

“They’re responsible for scheduling, so they have a bit of responsibility,” he said. “Everything seems to have moved pretty smoothly. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when more kids are involved.”

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