LAPLACE – Parents shouldn’t be so quick to frown on their kids who play video games, says Damon Mason, a LaPlace native, a graduate of Destrehan High School and a member of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Athletic Hall of Fame .

Mason believes that video games kept him away from the streets and trouble when he was growing up in the parishes of the river. Now, especially with the push for social distancing with the COVID-19 pandemic, video games have become a portal to scholarships and professional opportunities.

Electronic sports saw an increase of over 50% from 2020 to 2021 and has grown into a billion dollar industry. This year, the International Olympic Committee organized its first series of virtual sporting events.

Mason brings eSports to the River area with a competitive Madden Football League for grades 7 to 12.

“It’s happening all over the country, but not in the River region. I take this opportunity to bring something to the river region and use it on a scale that has never been done before, ”Mason said. “Esports is not something that comes in the future. It’s already there. This is already happening.

Using an X-Box or a PlayStation, 32 students will compete in a “mascot league” representing the eight high schools in the parishes of the river. The teams will include the Rams, “E” s, Rebels, Comets, Wildcats, Bulldogs, Tigers and Fighting Wildcats.

There will be four students representing each mascot of the river region, selected through a tournament-style suit after individuals have been given sufficient time to register. The winners will receive an official invitation to the team selection draft.

According to Mason, the project selection order will be determined by lottery once the names of the 32 students have been placed in a bowl. This process will be broadcast live by DM9 Gaming on multiple social media platforms.

The team selection draft will take place on another day. During the draft, the 32 participants will choose their team of choice and the selections will again be broadcast live on the DM9 social media platforms.

The matches will be played once a week. Participants must show good sportsmanship, and speaking and quitting smoking will not be allowed. The league settings are as follows: Heisman level of play, six-minute quarters, fatigue: on, injuries: on, rallies: on, fourth punt rule: 4 and 1 must kick the ball unless you cross the 50-yard line.

A complete list of rules, regulations and code of conduct will be sent along with the official draft invitations. Specific information will be released regarding the Xbox new gen and PS5 leagues. The Xbox Championship will be held in honor of Damon Russell of LaPlace, while the PlayStation Championship will be held in honor of Dartania Johnson. Both are graduates of East St. John.

Mascot League Superbowl winners will have the opportunity to represent Mason’s DM9 gaming brand and compete in official esports tournaments.

Mason also created preseason watchlists for high school athletes in river parishes to get the attention of college scouts. The esports league is another way for him to give back to the youth of the River area at a distance, since he now lives in Georgia.

“I’m honored to help them get exposure in a different kind of setting that no one in our area has ever thought of. You have the option of becoming a pro player or getting sponsors that actually pay you. The only way to get your name known is to participate in these tournaments, ”Mason said.

Much like in physical sports, competitors in eSports will receive coaching to emphasize the importance of discipline, teamwork, academics and a positive mindset.

“It’s important to implement these same types of life skills. For me, it goes hand in hand with athletics. What you do on the court, the court, the diamond in your respective sport can also affect what you do in your community. I think esports is no different, ”Mason said.

To register, go to