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E-Sports program development denial for Coalhurst High School

Posted on January 25, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

During the County of Lethbridge Council meeting that took place on January 18, Jennifer Place from Corporate Services brought a letter to Council submitted by Coalhurst High School requesting sponsorship to assist in the development of their e-sports program. 

The recommendation that Administration put forward was to deny the request based solely on the current policy that is in place. However, Place said, Council has the discretion to donate should they choose to. 

Place said that Coalhurst High School was specifically seeking funding to purchase computers to help develop their e-sports program for the youth within the community of Coalhurst and e-sports is competitive play specific for video games that requires dedication, training, and a high level of teamwork. 

E-sports, Place said, is also an international industry that will soon exceed all other sports organizations, in both participation and viewership, according to the letter Coalhurst High School provided. According to the letter, Place said, the funding needs for the e-sports program is $17,867.84. 

The letter explained that there are five different sponsorship levels: Platinum Sponsor – $15,000 – $20,000; Gold Sponsor – $10,000 – $14,999; Silver Sponsor – $5,000 – $9,999; Bronze Sponsor – $1,000 – $4,999; and Sponsorship Appreciate Certificate – $1 – $999. 

Place stated that according to policy, the following are not eligible for financial support: private functions, capital facilities and programs, organizations, events and activities that receive support from the County through other programs or policies, youth and adult sports teams and associated programs, events, activities in school, or reunions. 

Councillor Kuerbis concurred that this request unfortunately seemed to hit basically three of the ineligibility requirements based on previous direction. 

Kuerbis says that even though he saw value in supporting the County’s community partners and the youth of the community, he also believes that the donation policy is in place for a specific reason. In addition to that, Kuerbis asked if anyone in Administration could explain the methodology behind the policy and why those parameters were applied. Chief Administrative Officer Cole Beck said with school sports teams, there is a level of subjectivity, and the number of requests would be quite numerous, so it would probably be difficult to filter through without some type of blanket application. However, Beck stated one of the things that Administration and Council do need to do is discuss the fact that the County has a lot of policies that they need to refresh and go through, so this issue can be moved up on the priority list for review. Beck said that the Council could also do a little bit of a deeper dive as to why some of those clauses are in there, and if there should be any amendments or changes, they can be brought forward to Council at a different time.

Ultimately, Councillor Sayers made a motion that Council deny the request for funding of the Coalhurst High School e-sports program as per County policy number 161. That motion was carried.

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