Sports are ingrained in our daily lives in many ways whether it be entertainment, competition or even a career, and spring is always a time of fresh beginnings and offers so many things in the sports world. March Madness, the Masters, the beginning of baseball and the NBA postseason. Many times throughout history people have used sports to get away from the stresses of life or get over tough times.
But this year there is nothing. No games, no practices. Seniors are being forced to miss their last year of eligibility in high school as well as many in college. There isn’t a really good way to describe what the world has been like since the virus really started to spread except for … weird.
Ellis Clopton, a recent UNL graduate who currently works at Hudl, a software company for players to watch and share their sports film easily, said we are just beginning to see how much sports affects our daily lives.
“Coaches are trying to find things to fill their time right now,” Clopton said. “Right now, many coaches and players are going back and creating highlights from past years just because there isn’t any new video to analyze for them.”
The direct impact of canceling sports not only impacts the people playing, but so many who rely on jobs and entertainment. Not having that constant form of entertainment is something that UNL senior Lucas Sullivan agreed that he did not realize how much sports was integrated into his life.
“Usually when I do homework at night I have a basketball game on or something, but now there’s nothing to keep me entertained,” he said, adding that he fills his time watching Netflix now instead of sports but also said it isn’t the same.
In our society, people get addicted to the unknown that sports offers but as with everything else in life right now, there is staleness. Sports offer that spontaneity in that every night is different and anything can happen. There are implications with every game, match and race. Now, it feels as if nothing moves, nothing changes and the days all stay the same. That is what sports fans like Sullivan miss.
So, where do we go from here? For now, we wait. One thing that many media outlets are doing is showing old throwback games to give people a chance to feel like they are experiencing that spontaneous moment again. For the Masters, CBS showed the final round of four different Masters tournaments over the years finishing with Tiger Woods’ improbable victory last year. As a sports fan, I watched almost every one of those rounds because it filled the void of not having a Masters tournament this year.
Another thing that some people are turning to is watching esports. UNL senior Jerin TeKolste has turned to watching Call of Duty, Rocket League and other esports that can be played while in quarantine.
“The benefit to esports is you don’t have to be in contact with someone to play,” TeKolste said. “Especially if it is competitive, there is always going to be people trying, and it can be just as entertaining as regular sports.”
According to FrntOfficeSport.com, the $30 billion esports gambling industry is on trajectory to double with regular sports being out of commission to gamble on. This is an interesting turn that esports may need to gain traction in the traditional sports world. During quarantine, ESPN has started airing Rocket League tournaments and League of Legends tournaments for viewers to tune in and watch a new game. I think that the longer this quarantine lasts and the more esports players continue to play, this will be a trend that will continue.
There will need to be innovation to fill the hole left in our lives, and everyone from athletic directors to fans will need to get creative to make up the revenue lost from donations and ticket sales. I could see this turning into an opportunity for alcohol sales to enter the college space at Nebraska and other schools where it wasn’t previously allowed.
Another thing I believe we should keep an eye out for making sure the momentum of getting college athletes paid for their likeness doesn’t fizzle out with budget restrictions. There has been major momentum behind this for a few years now, and the NCAA could take the opportunity to shut it down with the pandemic being the excuse for why, but that can’t happen.
Overall, people are adjusting to no sports due to COVID-19 but hopefully that adaptation doesn’t need to be around for long. There are beginning signs of the curve being flattened, and I believe we will soon have sports back in our lives again.