Kentucky high school athletic commission bans Fortnite from high school esports competition

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The Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) has officially called for the removal of Fortnite from high school esports competition, expressing concern at the shooter’s inclusion in a state that has suffered from a school shooting tragedy.

The KHSAA had partnered with the PlayVS portal in order to create interscholastic esports competitions for students, but were reportedly alarmed at Fortnite’s addition to the other games on offer like League of Legends, SMITE, and Rocket League. “There is no place for shooter games in our schools,” said NHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett in an email this past Sunday. “This announcement was particularly troubling in that it came on the anniversary of one of Kentucky’s darkest days, the Marshall County incident.”

Tackett stated that he is working with the National Federation of State High Schools Associations (NHFS) Network to “proactively” take steps to have the decision to include Fortnite reversed. The incident in question, for the record, was a 2018 shooting in Marshall County High School in Kentucky that left two students dead and several others injured.

Polygon received further comment from KHSAA Director of Communications Joe Angolia, who expressed his dismay at the turn of events. “We had people that were concerned about the games we were offering, and whether they were suitable for schools. Then we […] worked with our partners, with our schools, we worked with the department of education here in Kentucky, with the Center for School Safety, to get that clearance,” said Angolia. “We felt like we were in a good position, and now this announcement has kind of undone a lot of that goodwill.”

Angolia, for his part, appreciates why Fortnite would be singled out, but he explained he takes issue with not talking with his partners to take the necessary steps to have the shooter included.

A PlayVS representative responded to the KHSAA’s decision, claiming that the addition of Fortnite was a direct-to-consumer “club” competition game separate from scholastic service offered to the NHFS Network and 18 other state associations, and so its addition was always meant to be part of the consumer “club” offerings and not for scholastic competition.

“We understand the sensitivity surrounding what is deemed appropriate for a school setting,” said the PlayVS rep. “We also understand the position that the KHSAA has taken due to our announcement being misrepresented. We have made numerous clarifying efforts on social media, to press outlets that misrepresented the announcement and will continue to do so.”

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