Kentucky schools can’t play the video game Fortnite that is being newly offered nationally in interscholastic e-sports competitions, Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett said Sunday in an email to school officials, adding , “there is no place for shooter games in our schools.”
Tackett said that late last week he found out that KHSAA’s partner through the National Federation of State High Schools Associations Network, PlayVS, will now be offering the game Fortnite for competitive play in high schools.
Tackett said the KHSAA and other states did not previously know about the addition and “is strongly against it. “
“I want to personally assure you that we, along with the NFHS Network are proactively taking steps to have this decision reversed,” Tackett said in the email. “There is no place for shooter games in our schools. This announcement was particularly troubling in that it came on the anniversary of one of Kentucky’s darkest days, the Marshall County incident.”
Tackett was referring to a 2018 fatal shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky in which two students died and several others were injured.
Tackett clarified that “KHSAA member Kentucky schools may not participate in Fortnite with our partner PlayVS or in any other interscholastic competition.”
He said if there is a possible change, that would be reviewed with partners including the Kentucky Department of Education.
“Last year, much work went into the development of permission and authorization forms for Kentucky’s schools to continue with eSports participation. This is not one of the permitted games,” Tackett said.
“We need to properly vet these games with all of our partners before we jump into anything,” KHSAA spokesman Joe Angolia said Monday.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control last summer stopped short of prohibiting the popular video game League of Legends for its esports competition, but took action out of concern over violence in the game.
KHSAA, the governing body for traditional sports and activities in high schools across Kentucky, voted to require the written approval of principals , superintendents and parents before students can play League of Legends.
PlayVS officials could not immediately be reached for comment Monday, but a recent article on the company’s website about Fortnite in high school and college competition, quoted Delane Parnell, CEO of PlayVS, saying, “Millions of people are already playing Fortnite — it’s become a part of culture.”
Damian Laymon, the coach of Boyle County High School’s esport team, said Monday that he received Tackett’s email and had no problem with the prohibition on Fortnite in high school competition.
“When you start getting into the shooter-style games, I believe there’s a line,” said Laymon. “At the high school level do you want to be a part of that?”