Sport and Technology

We’ve been able to watch sports from the comfort of our own homes for decades now, but have you ever seen athletes compete against each other from their own homes, which was then broadcasted to your home? With the mass cancellation of public events, the majority of professional sports that were in the middle of their season simply ended. So what do all these major sport networks do when there are literally no new sporting events taking place? They have to get creative.

The obvious choice is replays. Taking legendary games from all sports and eras and running them on TV again will cater to the young who never had a chance to watch some of the all-time-greats play in their prime, as well as the generations who grew up watching those stars play. But that will only take you so far with viewership. In the last few days, news has surfaces that ESPN and the NBA are discussing setting up live H-O-R-S-E games featuring NBA players shooting from their own home gyms. A no contact, socially safe way to bring fans that are longing now more than ever for their beloved sports, a way to see their favorite athletes compete.

The game would feature the best shooters from the NBA, who would go head-to-head in a classic game of H-O-R-S-E on a live broadcast where one player watches the other player via webcam take a shot and then would try to repeat that shot on their own court. The broadcast would then go to ESPN where it is polished up with graphics, stat lines, and most likely commentary, and then is sent out to our TV’s as a professionally produced livestream of NBA players playing H-O-R-S-E. Truly strange times we are living in, but at the same time, I would probably watch it. I’ll be honest, no March Madness was a bummer. I wouldn’t mind some basketball to pass the time.

YouTube has been a great platform for athletes to complete again each other through their virtual selves. Video games like NBA 2K20 and Madden NFL 20 allow for high profile players to play as their team against other stars from the league and play a virtual game. The NFL’s official YouTube channel had a tournament featuring players like Tyreek Hill, DeSean Jackson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Jarvis Landry going head-to-head in a bracket of 8 NFL players playing Madden in a nearly 3 hour long livestream. It’s obviously not the same as watching real players play real football against each other, but at least it gave fans a fun insight of the individual player’s trash talk and personalities as they talk to each other with headsets during the game.

For local Lions fans, they all know the NFL draft is the most exciting time of the year. A time where hope is renewed through a young potential star who hasn’t been ruined by the abysmal NFL franchise that is the Detroit Lions. The draft was supposed to take place in Las Vegas this year at the end of April. Considering things are still going to be shutdown, the NFL is having to be resourceful with alternatives to a mass gathering of players, fans, and NFL personnel from all 32 teams. Reports of a virtual draft have surfaced in the first week of April, meaning the entire draft would be recorded from numerous locations and will look completely different than every other year. There is fear that there will be tempering with the draft since it will take place over the Internet. The NFL is still trying to figure out the safest and most practical alternatives to the live draft, while trying to proceed with the off season the same as every other year.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, ESPN has brought Jelle’s Marble Runs to ESPN 2 as of March 22, 2020. If you have no idea what that is, you’re not alone. It’s quite literally track and field, but with marbles. The YouTube channel has exploded in popularity due to the amount of increased traffic on YouTube.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I have actually enjoyed watching them quite a bit. So much so, that I’ve started watching old videos from their channel to keep myself entertained while sports and other public events are currently “out-of-order”.

Sports are looking different today. It will be interesting to see just how popular Esports and online variations of physical sports will be when this is all said and done, but for now, they will remain in the spot light until social distancing is over.

 

- Matt Meyle

 

LINKS:

NBA players playing H-O-R-S-E

Madden Livestream Tournament

Virtual NFL Draft Reports

Jelle’s Marble Runs YouTube Channel

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