Coalition of Parents in Esports is a 501c3 nonprofit founded by parents of pro esports players and content creators who recognized a need of engaging parents in the growing esports industry so more kids are able to pursue their passions with the support they need. How our children engage with online video games has changed their behaviors in profound ways that can be scary to older generations. Mainstream media spends countless fear-mongering hours instructing parents how to limit or stop this implied destructive behavior, when in actuality, we should be embracing it and working with our children so they get the most out of what modern technology has to offer for how they learn and grow.

Social media and gaming has fundamentally changed the way they connect with their peers, consume entertainment, learn about the world around them and even how they choose to compete and spectate sport. Parents who grew up before personal screens were ubiquitous, have more fear about online social interaction and more concern about the physical and mental effects of all that screen time. As parents who were thrown into this brave new world by our own childrens’ competitive and creative esports pursuits, we became unsuspecting pioneers of new ideas about parenting children who experience much of their world online. We were all just as skeptical as any parent, but we soon each realized there were some amazing benefits that far outweighed the negatives, and those challenges could be managed with parental guidance. That guidance required knowledge, and we soon learned there was little information available to help parents who wanted to support their child’s gaming ambitions. Coalition of Parents of Esports was founded to change that dynamic and ensure parents everywhere could find the information and resources necessary to be their child’s support and cheering squad, just like any other organized sporting activity or creative endeavor.

Gaming has taken on the role as the next counterculture after the likes of rock’n’roll and extreme sports before it. Gaming is equated with rebellion, bad behavior and deterring children from worthwhile pursuits like education and physical sports. Through our own children, we realized none of that is accurate. As we were being vilified in the press and by our friends for letting our kids game, we were watching our teenagers master amazing business skills like networking and communication in a digitally connected world. We have also watched gaming and streaming inspire interest in technical careers, video production and entertainment. Some of our kids pursued other competitive sports before esports, but many of them were shy kids who were not involved in organized activities. 80% of kids currently involved in esports programs through their schools would have not participated in any other extracurricular activity. Think about that fact. The benefits of participation in school sports are well-known for the mental and physical development of our youth. Esports is reaching the kids previously excluded from these important developmental experiences.

So what do we plan to do about it? COPE is committed to revolutionizing esports by engaging parents, changing the dialogue and removing the negative stigmas that inhibit success. COPE seeks to build community and raise awareness on the benefits of esports for the personal, educational and career development of our youth by providing resources to make esports more accessible to all, more rewarding to current pros and content creators and more universally recognized and respected by those yet to know the value and joy of esports.

When CoFounders Chris Spikoski and Shae Williams (parents of esports pros Sceptic and Duster respectively) were first introduced to the esports industry, they focused on helping their own children navigate this exploding new entertainment and sporting genre. As they connected with other parents of esports influencers, they realized they all had similar stories of success and frustration. They also realized they were all being asked for similar guidance from aspiring gamers and their parents. It was apparent that it was time for organization. It was time to assist other parents through COPE by providing community and support for families in esports.

COPE’s greatest achievement is establishing the COPE Community Fund to recognize and reward exceptional talent and drive through scholarships for education, equipment, and family travel to tournaments and conferences. Equipment, training and travel can be expensive, but COPE seeks to level that playing field for deserving students.

So, as a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent, what can you do? That is one of our most frequent questions and the easiest to answer. Get involved. Take the opportunity to let your kids teach you about their favorite games, their favorite platforms and their favorite pros and streamers. Yes, we know they might try to gate keep you. When did that ever stop you? It shouldn’t here either. Get to know their online friends just like you would their school friends. Learn their favorite game and how to cheer them in their next tournament. We guarantee you will be pulled into the competitive excitement.

Like any extracurricular activity, kids need to earn their practice time by prioritizing school and chores appropriately. Communication is key. Plan practice times and know their tournament schedule. Ensure your child learns that peak physical and mental health is key to success and protection against injury. All that time sitting and doing repetitive motions can take a toll. Strength training can counteract the effects and aerobic training can build the physical stamina needed for long matches. Mediation, yoga and other mindfulness exercises will build the mental strength needed in stressful endgame competitions. It is a sport. Training is important. Don’t even get us started about inside voices vs outside voices! Competition inspires passion. Anger will be expressed at a mouse just like a bat. Teach them that controlling those emotions makes them better competitors, and respecting their equipment will come with maturity. Don’t dismiss their emotions. You would be right there with them if it were a bad call on the field. Teach them coping mechanisms and give them space to process frustrations, just like any sport.

Esports today really is more than just playing video games in your parent’s basement. Our kids are embracing the technology of their generation and learning how to make it work for them for fun, sport and connection. Instead of trying to squash it, COPE strives to help parents embrace it and work with their children to ensure they get the most out of their experiences. Just like any social group or activity, there is always the possibility of negative interactions, but with parent involvement, children will be equipped to face those challenges and will be confident to ask you, their parents, for help and guidance. COPE feels that when parents learn how much their children can benefit from healthy, fun and interactive gaming, esports will truly become the next big thing. Your kids are already there. Join them and enjoy it together! Join the Coalition of Parents in Esports and let us help you.


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