FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT/WKYT) - The Kentucky High School Athletic Association banned the popular video game Fortnite from high school esports competitions.
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The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett sent an email with the news to school officials Sunday.
Late last week, Tackett learned the KHSAA's partner PlayVS had just started offering Fortnite for high school competitive play.
"There is no place for shooter games in our schools," Tackett wrote, adding that the KHSAA is strongly against the game.
Tackett said that the KHSAA and the National Federation of State High Schools Associations Network is trying to have PlayVS' decision reversed.
In his email, Tackett added, "This announcement was particularly troubling in that it came on the anniversary of one of Kentucky's darkest days, the Marshall County incident."
January 23 marked the two-year anniversary of a deadly shooting at Marshall County High School. 15-year-old Bailey Holt and Preston Cope were killed.
According to a recent article on PlayVS' website, the company's CEO Delane Parnell said, "Millions of people are already playing Fortnite - it's become a part of culture."
"It's a shooter game but it's cartoonish. It's kind of on that line of, is it appropriate or not," said Damian Laymon, esports coach for Boyle County High School. "Personally I don't have any problems with the game, but is it appropriate for schools to be saying this is ok? That's where they're at."
Laymon said he understands officials' concerns, but Perry County Central High's esports coach Nathan Lyttle disagrees.
"I'll say that I've got a lot of disappointed kids," Lyttle said.
Lyttle admitted the game has cartoon violence, but countered that there is no blood or gore. The game is rated 'T' for teen and encourages problem-solving development.
"There's a storm they have to escape. They have to build buildings to keep themselves safe," Lyttle added.
WKYT asked both coaches if they thought violence in video games promotes violence in teens.
"Is it a factor that may contribute or may influence? Maybe," said Laymon. "I'm not one of these that think it's the factor."
"I don't think high school kids are just bloodthirsty and go home and want to play games with guns," Lyttle said.
Violent games aside, both coaches agree that esports are vital for students who don't get to participate in traditional team sports.
"They would not have been a part of a team. They would have never put a jersey on. They would have never left their room after school if it weren't for e-sports," said Lyttle.