Professional Sports Leagues Produce Alternate Content in Face of Pandemic


Photo By Pxfuel

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, nearly all professional sports leagues have canceled their games. However, some leagues are producing virtual content with video game tournaments between the players to continue to entertain viewers safely. Photo courtesy of Pxfuel.

By Vikram Joshi, Horizon Editor in Chief

Since nearly every sports league in the world has canceled its regular games due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, many regular viewers are stuck at home with an extra amount of time on their hands. Stepping in to fill that time slot are a few leagues – the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the BIG3 – with some interesting solutions. 

The NBA is holding a players-only tournament on the popular basketball video game “NBA 2K20” that will be streamed on ESPN TV channels and online as well as the NBA app. It will have 16 competitors and each of them have been assigned a collection of NBA teams that they will be able to utilize during the four-round competition starting on Friday, April 3.

“I was really bored when the NBA stopped, especially in the middle of a great season, but I think it will be cool so see them compete again, especially some of the [players] who already streamed video games in their free time,” Parth Matalia ‘21 said. “I think it’s a good idea that will keep the fans and players entertained in some pretty boring times.”

Similarly, the NFL is holding an eight-player tournament on the video game “Madden 20” that will help benefit COVID-19 relief efforts. The first round was completed on Wednesday, April 1 with Denzel Ward, Tyreek Hill, DeSean Jackson, and Derwin James triumphing over Jarvis Landry, Tyrann Mathieu, Deebo Samuel, and Keenan Allen. The remaining matches will be played out on Thursday, April 2.

“It’s really the next best thing to live sports and it’ll be fun for the players to interact with each other and the fans. It’ll be cool to see how star players try to play with their video game counterparts and see if it’s similar to how they play in real life,” Amey Chande ‘21 said. “I also like how it’s a way to get to know the players by watching how excited they get and if they beef with one another while playing.”

With a more classical approach, the BIG3 is holding a three-week basketball tournament starting at the beginning of May. Unlike other leagues’ solutions, it will be real basketball with human contact rather than virtual competition. In order to ensure that the event will not increase the spread of the coronavirus, all the players and referees will have to test negative beforehand and will be quarantined together during the tournament. In addition to holding a basketball contest, the league will film the daily lives of the competitors and make it into a reality show.

“It’s honestly a smart way for them to make money; the market [for the show] is probably as big now as it could possibly be with everyone stuck at home and bored,” Sidd Pradhan ‘21 said. “It doesn’t put anyone in danger since they’re holding it with everyone quarantined together and it’ll be pretty cool to see, especially since the NBA shut down.”

In the current situation, slowing the spread of the coronavirus is the first priority. These solutions will entertain many audience members while staying safe.