20 ways to get your sports fix during the coronavirus pandemic
20 ways to get your sports fix during the coronavirus pandemic
Professional and college sports were among the first indicators that COVID-19 would dramatically change daily American life. First, the Ivy League canceled its conference tournament on March 10, with others soon following suit. The NCAA announced it would hold March Madness without ticketed spectators but then canceled the entire tournament. NBA star Kevin Durant was one of the first household names to announce he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and a few days later, so did New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.
Sports as we know it may not return for several months. The absence of daily games packed with drama has left a void for countless fans. There are still many ways to connect with favorite teams and players, though. That’s why Stacker compiled 20 ways to get your sports fix from home, using news, team websites, athlete social media accounts, television listings, and well-reviewed recommendations.
While live game action is currently not an option, streaming and rebroadcast offers an abundance of classics, highlights, and documentaries. Athletes have gotten inventive, using video games or their own backyard to stage mini competitions, some of which have even been nationally televised. The hypothetical is also keeping the sports engine going, as fans and athletes alike speculate on the age-old bar and barber-shop debates on the greatest of all time.
One month after Durant’s announcement, more than a half-dozen NBA players tested positive (several teams did not disclose names). Denver Broncos star linebacker Von Miller, NHL players, and minor league baseball players have also tested positive, so it may be a while before we’re able to enter through a turnstile again and enjoy sports live. But there’s enough going on out there to replicate the roar of the crowd—did anyone say marble racing? Click through to find out more.
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Rewatch past classics
Several stations are rebroadcasting old games, hoping to appeal to fans nostalgic for sports. In Washington D.C., Nationals fans were able to relive the entire run to the 2019 World Series championship. Elsewhere, some teams are hosting streams on YouTube, where fans can watch games and share memories in live chats.
Stream video games
If rewatching old classics isn’t for you, perhaps virtual sports are more up your alley. NBA players have been competing in streamed video game matchups of NBA 2K, while Fox is broadcasting simulated races with NASCAR drivers. Other athletes from MLB and the NFL are also getting involved in the virtual fun.
[Pictured: Computer-generated IndyCar iRacing challenge.]
Get immersed in Korean baseball
The Korea Baseball Organization runs the highest-level league in South Korea. With the country executing one of the strongest responses to the coronavirus outbreak, the KBO began exhibition games on April 21, and is gearing up to start its season in early May. Mike Wright, Chad Bell, and Drew Gagnon are some of the former MLB players currently competing in the KBO League.
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Follow Taiwanese basketball tip-offs
The Taiwan Super Basketball League, featuring former college stars like Duke’s Matt Jones, is still operating and playing games inside empty gymnasiums. While live-streams of the games are hard to find, some YouTube users post videos with live updates and stats. Some gambling sites are even posting lines on these games.
Enjoy weekly professional wrestling
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) are still running weekly shows on Fox, USA Network, and TNT. The shows have featured a mix of pre-taped and live matches in empty gyms, with interviews and rebroadcasts of old classics. Celebrities occasionally drop by, like Rob Gronkowski, who won WWE’s 24/7 championship.
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Watch ‘The Last Dance’
One of the most highly anticipated television events of the spring was the debut of ESPN’s 10-part documentary series on the 1990s Chicago Bulls. The series was originally supposed to run later in the year but was moved up with sports fans thirsting for original content. Other documentaries worth a look include HBO’s “The Scheme,” about illegal payments in college basketball.
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Read mock drafts and brackets
Without major events like the NCAA tournament, fans can still get a fix through mocked-up tournaments and events. ESPN used computers to predict how the tourney would have played out, and ran a special across its platforms to decide the greatest college basketball player ever. The Minneapolis Star Tribune is regularly running mock drafts on a variety of sports topics, such as the ugliest jersey and best sports movie, which are done in live chats and open to reader comments.
Get into weird wagers
Without professional and college sports to gamble on, the world of betting has turned weird. Bettors are now getting into Russian table tennis, “Top Chef,” and the frequency of words used in daily White House press briefings.
Listen to athlete podcasts
Athletes hosting podcasts is nothing new, but some provide a unique mix of sports, entertainment, and never-before-told stories. “All the Smoke,” hosted by former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes, has featured interviews with Kobe Bryant, Lil Wayne, and Stephen A. Smith. “Knuckleheads,” hosted by Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, has brought on Common, Shaq, Candace Parker, and many more.
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Check out social media entertainment
Many athletes already used social media to expand their popularity and connect to fans, but now they’re creating content relative to the pandemic or to help pass the time. The Warriors’ Steph Curry interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci on Instagram Live, while the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard is hosting weekly rap cyphers on Twitter. To keep the competitive juices flowing, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic had a friendly war of words with special guest appearances by other tennis stars.
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Digest sports storytelling beyond news
Despite a lack of box scores, trade rumors, and other sports-related news, journalists are still producing quality longform stories. From personal losses and gains in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death, to a paralyzed Olympian looking to regain his career, the drama and emotion of sports remain all around us.
[Pictured: A #17 jersey and football on the field at Berks Catholic High School where a #17 has been added at the 17-yard line on the football field in honor of the late Anthony Myers, who died Dec. 4, 2019, after a year-long battle with cancer.]
Watch sports-related TV shows
Ever wanted to binge “Friday Night Lights” or just relive the Dillon Panthers’ drive to State? There are many sports-related TV shows out there, both old and new. Some options on Netflix include “Formula 1: Drive to Survive,” “All American,” and “Terrace House”—a Japanese reality show favored by the Wizards’ Rui Hachimura and the Twins’ Kenta Maeda, which has featured professional wrestlers, and basketball, hockey, and soccer stars.
Consider the political side
You may not fancy yourself a political junkie, but politics have long played important roles in sports—and now more than ever. If you’re itching for live competitions again, you might learn about how politics will influence the return of games. In Nicaragua, sports have largely carried on, without much government interference, although with plenty of debate.
Study up on golf and UFC
Two American sports entities that have already announced return dates are the PGA and UFC. The PGA aims to host an event in June, while the UFC is planning a card on May 9. If Brooks Koepka and Amanda Nunes weren’t household names for you before, they could become some of your favorites in the coming weeks.
Listen to athletes’ words of wisdom
The early positive-test announcements from superstar Kevin Durant and Saints coach Sean Payton made the threat of COVID-19 much more real for many Americans. Athletes from across the sporting world are encouraging citizens to do their part and make smart decisions, looking to use their influence for the benefit of everyone.
Donate with an athlete for a greater cause
Professional athletes are using their influence to help give back. The San Francisco 49ers, Alex Rodriguez, and Tom Brady are participating in the ALL IN Challenge, while Steph Curry, Chloe Kim, and Bo Jackson are helping raise money for Athletes for Relief.
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