Sports Going Online to Survive in Unprecedented Times

April 21, 2020 Updated: April 21, 2020

Every industry sector has felt the effect of recent events to a greater or lesser extent.

These range from the tourism and travel industries that have ground to an almost complete halt to the food retailers that have seen significantly higher sales figures due to panic shopping.

The remarkable thing about the whole affair is the global nature of the impact. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of sport.

From the Olympics to Euro 2020 soccer to the NBA to the English Premier League, no nation and no sport has been unaffected.

However, just as many of us have discovered in recent weeks that the internet allows us to work, shop and even spend leisure time with friends online, so professional sport has also transitioned into cyberspace.

Virtual sport is not a new invention, but it has catapulted into the headlines as stars across the globe take up their controllers.

Soccer

The most popular sports series ever already has a strong eSport following, and the ePremier League even attracted TV coverage last year. Now, a number of online tournaments have been set up, featuring star players from some of the biggest teams in Europe. For example, English Championship team Leeds United have been running FIFA simulations of their league fixtures and streaming them on Twitter. Elsewhere, a charity FIFA tournament that will be live-streamed on Twitch has attracted Premier League players including Mason Mount, Gareth Bale, and Luke Shaw.

Poker

Here’s a game that is already popular to play online.

With today’s technologically advanced poker sites, there is no material difference between playing someone over an internet connection or across a table, and so this is one sport that has been able to continue with fewer interruptions than most.

The World Series of Poker is looking to set up a number of online tournaments while the traditional venue of Las Vegas remains closed for business.

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the Irish Open was able to proceed online earlier this month, and the Main Event was won by Pablo Silva.

Horse Racing

For the past three years, the Virtual Grand National has been a fun side-show taking place alongside the most famous and historic race in the UK calendar.

This year, when the actual Grand National was canceled, the virtual race literally took center stage.

The TV slot reserved for the real race instead covered the virtual one, and people were even able to place bets on the outcome.

Formula 1

The high tech world of F1 is no stranger to the virtual world, given its extensive use of incredibly realistic simulators.

However, many of the drivers have been trying something a little less extravagant from the comfort of their homes while the real season waits to get started.

The F1 Virtual Grand Prix series has featured current drivers Lando Norris, Charles LeClerc, and Nico Hulkenberg, as well as former racers Johnny Herbert and Anthony Davidson.

The next round will be China, and as well as the pro racers, there will be some special guest drivers, including Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.