The world of Live sports is no different when it comes to being affected by Coronavirus pandemic. It has literally affected every person, directly or indirectly.
When the spread of Covid-19 began during the start of 2020; there was no fear of cancellation of any sporting events. Soon, the global sports authorities started taking this pandemic into considerations on how the sports will be conducted. This was followed by postponements with a promise to resume live-action of sports soon.
With news of the rapid spread of the virus and one after another, countries around the world started going into lockdown, the hopes of seeing our favourite live sports on the field started declining. The worst affected sport this year has been the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics has now been officially postponed to late July 2021. This scary situation has made one thing clear: Live sports will never be the same once the pandemic subsides.
The number of cases globally has crossed the 12 Million mark with no clear signs of a vaccine. The sports associations, league owners, franchisee owners have been grappling around the same question, how will the Live sports be played? Though there has been some good news, the German Bundesliga got in action in May. While the West Indies tour of England for a full tour has begun since 8th July.
The question in every sports fan’s mind remains is that even after the findings of the vaccine for Coronavirus disease how will the Live sports experience be? will there be too many protocols, precautions, limitations?
In this piece, we try to present a few key areas regarding popular sports which are set to undergo massive changes as they try to get back on track.
Experience of Live Arena / Stadium
In the scenario of during and post-COVID for quite some time it looks like the stadiums are going to stay empty with no cheers to hear or no fan to be seen running across the field to hug the favourite player.
The players have to prepare themselves to play in front of the empty stadium, this seems to be the only practical way to restart the Live sports. The risk of contamination even in future is a threat. The stadiums will not be a full house for at least a few years. The social distancing norms, entry & exit protocols, safety of players will all change the experience of the stadium for both players as well as the fans. The fans will not be interested in spending long hours in the queue to get the ticket and temperature checked at the security gates.
The heart of any Live sports are fans. With the lack of action in Live sports world, Fans are desperate for more. Many players and teams have started connecting with the fans on social channels to retain their followership and keep the excitement high in the sport.
The personalization of engagement with fans has gone to the next level. The recent spike in Instagram Live sessions with athletes across sports like Football, Formula 1, Cricket, Tennis, etc… is already a sign of new opportunities taking shape to keep the fan-engagement quotient higher.
The fans earlier used to try really hard get an opportunity to get as close as possible to their favourite players and get a sneak-peek into their lives. This lockdown opened the gates for such fans, almost every day one or the other player comes closer to his fans by interacting with them directly on social channels. This serves as an opportunity even for the post-Covid scenario.
The rules of the Game are changing
The Live sports world is filled with opportunities for new innovations to happen. In the case of cricket, the fear of Covid-19 has already given rise to a debate that if it’s still appropriate to use saliva on the ball. There would be many other rules which the ICC will implement soon enough to restart & reboot the Live Cricket business. Similarly other sports, like in football there have been changes in the rules. Example, spitting will cost a yellow card to the player. Likewise, soon there will be new rules in all Live sports.
Training & Practice of Players
Fitness is the supreme requirement of any athlete to compete, with lockdown affecting the training sessions, the fitness of sportspersons has taken a toll. The questions were raised on concerns regarding their performance when the sports resume.
This challenge has given birth to a positive approach. The current scenario may show us a shift in the training process. The players will receive a well planned personalised routine and also be monitored regularly. Also, the mental toll this pandemic has put on players is being well thought about and provisions are being made to have a mental conditioning/morale boosting sessions are being planned at a personal level for every player. This use to happen even earlier with a mental conditioner or the coach talking to players on the field. Now, they’ll also have to figure out a good strategy to fight mental health concerns.
Live Sports really need to restart. But when?
Too many Live sports events have either been postponed or cancelled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the sports associations had no choice but to do so, the big ask remains that when will these events will be held? Since the postponement of substantial number of events has been announced with no clear date, there would be higher chances of clashes happening with the dates.
Scheduling of these sports is going to be under great focus. There are tons of issues lined up in front of the sports administrators. From the qualifying rounds to gatherings to revenue models changing. How are they going to deal with all these issues is crucial, it is going to define the future course of the sports world over.
We have shared only a small piece of information. However, there is a lot of information being updated every day regarding the course of action being taken by the sports authorities. Till then, let’s hope to see a better future of Live sports and support all athletes & sports personalities by sharing some love on their social media channels.