With the majority of sports on hold because of the coronavirus, finding alternative entertainment has presented a struggle for sports fans.
There may not be actual live events, but there are distractions for creative fans. Sports video games, old-fashioned board games and national drafts are providing new ways for fans to engage. As a bonus, NASCAR has set a date to be the first live sports coverage since the shutdown of live athletic events.
Angel Franco, sports reporting fellow for the Dallas Morning News, said the pandemic’s effect on the sports industry is something she never expected.
“It’s hard to think that it’s been so long since we’ve had live sports,” Franco said. “As a reporter, I’ve shifted away from covering sports to helping the Dallas Morning News Audience Team.”
There have been hints of local athletic goings-on through drafts. A&M women’s basketball’s Chennedy Carter was selected fourth overall in the first round by the Atlanta Dream during the Women’s National Basketball Association Draft. Five Aggies signed with NFL teams in April, with two being drafted and three signed as free agents.
While there will be no live spectators, a NASCAR Cup Series race will be held at Darlington Raceway on May 17, according to nascar.com. It will be broadcast live on Fox, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Classic fans are also turning to classic sports video games including Madden NFL, FIFA and NBA 2K in record numbers. Madden NFL now has 6.2 million monthly players, an increase of 600,000 new players from March 26 to April 26, according to gamstat.com. FIFA currently has 7.1 million active players monthly, with 3.4 million new players; and NBA 2K has 3.5 million monthly players, an increase of 1.7 million over one month.
New to NBA 2K this year is the ability for the player to pick WNBA teams, according to nba.com.
Video games are being used to connect people in new ways as part of college football recruiting. In March, A&M football coaches and prospective players participated in a Madden 20 tournament bracket, according to cbssports.com. Offensive coaches faced off against offensive prospects and defensive coaches went against defensive players. A&M used the “Gig ‘em Gamer Tourney” to bring prospective players and coaches together since in-person visits were halted due to COVID-19.
Creative sports fans can always pick up old-fashioned board games or puzzles to compete with their family. Board games with brand recognition, such as Monopoly and Uno, and puzzles are all big box sellers at Walmart, Amazon and Target, according to usatoday.com.
Gunnar Baker, A&M junior political science major, said while he has missed watching basketball, playing physical games has been a good way to fill time until live events return.
“There is nothing better than a physical game that fills the void of where sports should be,” Baker said. “[It] allows participants to continue to have fun.”