PlayVS Live: Gridiron Showdown Takes Super Bowl Week in Las Vegas By Storm

Listen In With KNN” hosted by award-winning sports media personality Kelsey Nicole Nelson visited the inaugural esports Super Bowl event called PlayVS Live: Gridiron Showdown. In partnership with the NFL, the event with PlayVS brought in over 100 Las Vegas area students to face off in Madden NFL 24 merging professional sports and esports to celebrate athletes from all over. 

Nelson got a chance to catch up with event organizers and some of the NFL players who are avid gamers Nelson’s first conversation was with the CEO of PlayVS Jon Chapman. Nelson asked Chapman about the growth of esports and why he feels it’s popularity is growing amongst young people. “What we found in esports that’s so incredible is that 45% of kids who participate in our esports teams in any one of our thousands of schools that compete with us around the country. It is the first actual extracurricular activity they’ve ever done. So we’re literally pulling them off the couch and giving them a purpose, teaching them lessons that you can learn in traditional sports,” Chapman said. He continued discussing how esports has gotten more kids engaged in sports and why it’s important to get them  involved early.

Nelson continued by asking Chapman why PlayVS partnership with the NFL  was needed.“Well we’re really excited because this is an official community event during the Super Bowl week and the NFL is all about giving back to the community. This was important for them to showcase this area and create an experience for kids from Clark county and what we hope that it’s a kick off of a much broader initiative with the NFL,” Chapman said.

In the next conversation, Nelson caught up with Priscilla Scott, a Recreational Coordinator with the city of Las Vegas. Scott discussed her role and ho it played a part in getting local area kids to be part. “Lots of firsts for the city of Las Vegas. I oversee the Becker Technology Center, which is our first tech center where we have esports. We have a podcast studio where we do 3D printing robotics, so the city of Las Vegas really embraces everything that is digital age. In particular HyperX and PlayVS that helped this rollout with the curriculum for the kids in the program,” Scott said. 

Scott shared how the kids participating in the program are middle and high school students  that are part of the mentorship program in the facility that the event took place in.  The program is supported through a federal grant. “A lot of kids come from an underserved neighborhood so opportunities like this are amazing,” Scott said. 

Nelson also had a chance to engage with  current and former NFL Athletes.  Former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones and NFL fullback Johnny Stanton spoke with Nelson discussing their contribution to the event and what it meant to be part of the historic event. Speaking to the  growth of esports and what first got him involved Jones said“I used to play this game called Math Blaster. You know the games were always something that I loved to play. I used to play a lot of driving games and I think that it actually helped me to become a better driver and as I’m watching these young people play Madden, you know it’s also important to see these quarterbacks and receivers,  plus everybody to be able to translate into the real field because it’s a simulation albeit.”

With Stanton having gone to school in Las Vegas at UNLV,this event was special for him. Nelson asked why he thinks Las Vegas is the perfect place to kick off this amazing event. “You know Las Vegas is the city of entertainment, and obviously video games are a part of entertainment but its a way to bring people together which I think Vegas does as a core is be able to bring people together,” Staton said. Staton mentioned his experience in gaming and motivation. “My experience is a little unique because not only was I incredibly passionate about sports, it was about just following my passion. I’m someone who’s a self described nerd. Somebody who not only loves video games and esports, but somebody who loves tabletop games playing dungeons building up camaraderie and communication skills,” Staton said.

Nelson also had a chance to speak with former NFL safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was another one of the former NFL players featured on the event’s panel. Nelson asked Vaccaro how he hopes the kids listen to the experience that the NFL has afforded him. He alluded to the fact that guys like Lamar Jackson set the example and inspire the next generation. “If he would’ve won that Super Bowl, there’s so many different kids that are just like him. He’s himself in his interviews and that’s inspiring,” he said. He continues to talk about the impact players have on the youth and the future of the NFL. 

You can watch a recap of the event  including exclusive interviews below. 

Jasmine Pollock