Last week I mentioned the different networks airing classic games across all sports and how it was a trip down memory lane for a lot of us. Today I want to talk about the creative ways that sports networks are coming up with new content.
Everyone involved in the sports world is having to use their brains to come up with different ways to keep their readers or viewers engaged. I know for me and countless other sports journalists, this is a tough time for our industry. Live sports haven’t happened in over a month and when there are no games, well there isn’t much to write about. But I have been able to reach out to several local student athletes that recently committed to play college football, but never got to have their signing ceremony. I was able to interview them and give them an opportunity to tell their stories and have something to remember this special moment.
There are several other things I am working on that I am excited to provide for you all in the coming weeks. I know one thing, ever since the sports have stopped; I have a new appreciation for them. Sports provide us a way of getting away from the every day grind. They give us an opportunity for two to three hours to forget what is going on around us and just enjoy the action on the field or court. We use them for many different reasons, but now that they are gone it is hard to fill that void.
The television sports networks are working hard to fill that void. They are providing us with several different ways to enjoy sports in these trying times, some old and some new. The older ones I spoke about last week, such as classic games from the NFL, NBA, MLB etc. Some games and performances that we may have forgot about played out on our television screens and the nostalgia was a great distraction.
Just last week I watched the Cal Ripken Jr. game when he broke the streak for most consecutive games played back in 1995. I was nine years old when that game happened, but I remember the hype and buildup to Ripken beating the streak and playing 2,131 consecutive baseball games, and it was nice to re-watch it as an adult to see how things have changed.
There also are several new ways that we are getting our sports fix. The NBA has done two unique things. They had some of the top stars in the league go head to head in the video game NBA 2k. The players were ranked according to their skill and a bracket was made as the players, from their own homes, played each other and ESPN broadcast it for everyone to see. Now if you think that watching people play video games is boring or just plain weird, these days it is actually a very normal thing to do. The streaming site Twitch is built just for that. People log on to Twitch and stream themselves playing any and all kind of video games and thousands of people join in to watch.
The NBA also began a HORSE tournament last night that was broadcast of ESPN. Yes, the game of HORSE that so many of us played in our yards growing up is now being broadcast on national television. It is crazy to think about, but in a world where we are starved for sports, this will do.
The players from across the NBA and WNBA will play from their own homes, and will be matched against someone playing in their home. They will then go shot-for-shot trying to get the other player to miss a shot they made. The rules are the same as they are in the backyard, the first player to accumulate all letters of the word HORSE loses.
Some people may think it is silly, some may love it, either way these athletes are still able to provide us with something new and entertaining in this unique situation and I for one am thankful.
The last one I am going to touch on today is the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. When NASCAR first postponed all of their races last month, several cup series drivers got together and made a small bet over Twitter about who would do the best. They streamed the race, and next thing you know Fox Sports 1 now broadcasts these virtual races every week.
iRacing is nothing new to the auto sports world. They have races for almost every level of racing and some of the most popular NASCAR drivers use iRacing on a regular basis. Some of them even have $10,000 set-ups in their houses for the races. Everything about iRacing is extremely realistic. The tracks, the cars, the damage to the cars, it is all very realistic and sometimes when it gets going for a while, you forget it is just a type of video game, just a very expensive one.
The sports world has had to adapt to the situation at hand. Some of my fellow sports journalists have been laid off, or furloughed. Sports radio personalities have been laid off, and the list goes on. Just like so many other Americans that are struggling in these times, the sports world is not exempt and we are fighting daily to find ways to make sure that the our readers, listeners and viewers are able to get some of the best content each day that we can provide.