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Fans Want Sports. Sports Want Fans: But It's Not That Simple
The lack of professional sports as a result of the coronavirus has had a profound effect on fans, reshaping their relationship with their teams, and their behavior as well.
Covid- 19 has caused some of the biggest sporting events of the year, including the summer Olympics, to get cancelled, leaving millions without their usual dose of fun and distraction.
Sports has been affected in every possible way, from the players themselves, club owners, the fans, and media coverage. Fans want a return of sports, but it's not that simple.
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How are you coping without your favorite sporting competition? The effects of Covid- 19 have been wide-ranging and severe, changing the way we interact with each other and with our favorite sporting teams. Pretty much all sporting events have had to be cancelled or postponed due to the risk posed by Covid- 19, and this has left many of us trapped in a life of routine and protocols, without the space for excitement and unpredictability that sport offers.
Some sports have been able to adapt more quickly than others to the e-sporting platform that's come up in recent months. For instance, Nascar created an online platform for racing right before coronavirus appeared, which perhaps made their version of online competitive gaming even more popular once the sport world went digital. Another example is the e-Sailing World Championship, that attracted over 170,000 participants since February 2020 when it was rolled out. These online competitions have been a great diversion for people locked up indoors with nothing to do except to try and play or watch games online.
Soccer events such as the #Ultimatequaranteam were great hits for the online FIFA video game community, but as fun as they are, they don't provide the same sort of distraction as live sporting competitions. But even as fans struggle to adjust to the new set of events, sports organizations are also being put on the spotlight now more than ever, to show how their mission statement can be sustainable; and of course with the rise of movements like Black Lives Matter, the sporting world has had a lot to deal with these past few months.
Why The Return of Sports Will Be Different
The biggest clubs in the world pay their coaches and players millions of dollars every year, but without the usual revenue streams like advertising and ticket sales, these clubs are finding it necessary to make serious adjustments. Some football clubs for instance, have had to lay off some of their non-playing staff, or ask for federal money to keep their employees on payroll. It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of sports experts have suggested huge changes to the way we enjoy sports, and there’s a general consensus that even after the coronavirus has been dealt with, the sporting world simply won't look the same.
This event has exposed huge problems with big sporting franchises, and it is likely that the $400 billion in revenue that global sporting organizations generated each year before the pandemic may be significantly reduced.
So when sports returns to your life, do you think you will care more or less about it? It's not even clear when people will start filling stadiums again. We will have to keep following the social distancing guidelines for quite a while longer - perhaps until every country in the world has a good supply of the coronavirus vaccine.
People are holding sports organizations to a higher standard now, and it’s likely that popular sporting competitions will be rolled out gradually, first to empty stadiums, until the risk of infection has been entirely eliminated. This is what some experts feel will change the way we see our favorite sports, along with challenges involving black players, which is another issue that will continue to dominate the sporting world for the rest of the year.
Sports organizations are having to deal with a list of serious problems, each of which doesn’t seem to have a quick solution yet. It's not only coronavirus that has plagued your favorite sport; they need to come up with answers to issues such as fair wages, inequality and discrimination, standard safety guidelines to protect against disease, and a digital platform to cater to their online fan base.
It's no secret that most of us just want things to go back to normal after coronavirus, but chances are, they won't. The absence of real sports also means that a lot of fans are exploring other available tools like e-sports. Many of the world's top leagues are currently using digital products as a way to expand into new territory, and also to generate more money. Remember, each sport has a unique way in which they organize and monetize their products, and with the new rules about social distancing and medical liability, it makes it harder for sports organizers and sponsors to come to an arrangement in which everybody benefits.
What’s likely is that we will see major league sports bouncing back quickly because of the interest among fans, but the truth is, for the sake of maintaining safety for everybody, the games will look and feel different. Nobody is in a rush to populate stadiums with an ever present risk of infection, so at some point games will have to be broadcast to fans at home, and this could lead to teamssetting up their own income streams by offering multiple digital products to grow their own fan base.
There are many strategies being adopted by different leagues, but we're yet to see the full picture of what sport teams will look like in the next year, or how fans will respond to these changes. In the meantime, virtual sports and e-gaming are growing faster than ever.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes