These days, you may not find all the variety you once did as you shuffle through television channels. Popular news channels such as NBC, CNN and Fox are echoing each other with the various ever-changing developments of the novel coronavirus pandemic. While there are, of course, shows and movies airing consistently, the shows are typically reruns and the movies are likely ones you’ve seen before. We all know that there are no live sports; however, if you go looking, you may be surprised by what you find.
After nearly all major sports leagues postponed or canceled their seasons, sports networks were left with little-to-nothing to broadcast and, consequently, without major sources of revenue such as March Madness. Sports outlets needed to act fast to stay afloat. To recreate the excitement of live sports, channels have been broadcasting game simulations, reruns of famous games and even video game tournaments between players.
In lieu of the March Madness cancellation, prediction website SportsLine.com used their SportsLine Projection Model to predict the outcomes of March Madness games. No official bracket for the tournament was released since the tournament was canceled before Selection Sunday.
With the model, SportsLine projected the Final Four to consist of Duke University (N.C.), University of Dayton (Ohio), Gonzaga University (Wash.) and Florida State University, with Dayton edging out Gonzaga in the final game 79-78. While this model was no match for the madness that gives the tournament its name, it paints the picture of what could have been.
ESPN has also been working to provide viewers with content amid the lack of new content. Primarily, ESPN has broadcasted many championship games, such as the 2006 Rose Bowl between the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California, which they re-aired on April 2.
Just last week, ESPN also wrapped up their NBA 2K Players Tournament, which began on April 3. Sixteen players from the NBA competed against one another on Xbox One for a chance to win $100,000 for a charity of their choice to support COVID-19 relief efforts. After the bracket played out over the following days, Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker defeated teammate DeAndre Ayton on April 11 and donated the money to #FirstRespondersFirst and Arizona Food Bank Network.
To bring even more “live” action into the mix, ESPN also hosted the HORSE Challenge, in which current and former NBA players competed in a game of HORSE. To be in line with quarantine restrictions, players used the courts at their own homes and live-streamed their shots. The game of HORSE is simple enough to play virtually: either match the previous player’s made shot or receive a letter. Yet, despite the simplicity of the game, the liveliness of the matches can be more exciting than watching the same old game for the fifth time.
While these live events or simulations may not completely fill the sports void in your life, it’s a start. And, if reruns aren’t your thing, ESPN will begin airing the first virtual NFL draft on April 23 at 8 p.m. EST, the original scheduled date and time. Nevertheless, while we await the return of live sports, the distraction of these placeholders is welcomed.