For many, the cancellation of major sporting events is what really drove home the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA closed up shop first and shortly after professional and college sports followed suit, with March Madness being one of the most notable casualties. Here we are weeks later and sports are still shut down on campus and off, and the loss of entire seasons has caused the NCAA to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.
There is one form of sporting competition that hasn’t had to shut down, however, and that is the electronic kind. Esports is a term that encompasses a wide range of video game-based competitions, and some professional sports leagues have pivoted to having their otherwise idle athlete compete in digital versions of their sports, with some of these competitions earning strong television ratings when they are broadcasted in place of cancelled real-world sports.
While this shift to esports is new development borne out of necessity for professional sports organizations, colleges and universities across the country have been sponsoring official esports teams for with increasing frequency in recent years. While their counterparts in more traditional sports are unable to represent their schools during the pandemic, the internet allows esports athletes to continue to compete while remaining safe and socially distanced from one another, and as a result there are still college esports teams actively competing together, giving fans and alums a measure of school pride even while arenas and stadiums remain empty.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted so much of the daily lives of people around the world, and for many people watching live sports is one of the biggest things missing from their lives as a result. In times like these, the continuation of esports on both the professional and college levels provides at least a small measure of semi-normalcy while providing sports fans something new to root for.