Sport - Possibly The Greatest Teacher Of Them All
Covid 19 has changed our life’s in a multitude of ways. Not the least on the sporting fields, and inside the sporting arenas of the world. Over the past eight months we have witnessed sports event organisers pivot and innovate like never before.
Empty stadiums have become home to some of the world’s most iconic teams. Other venues have limited attendance numbers to insure social distancing rules are adhered too. Cardboard cutouts have even replaced fans in some stadiums to try and give the players some sense of normaisee.
What hasn’t changed during the entire time that Covid 19 has wrapped its web across the planet is the ability for sport to deliver its constant drama, and unpredictability when it comes to results and surprises.
Whether it be in the English Premier League non believers witnessing seven goals being scored against the all conquering Liverpool Football Club. Or take the French Open tennis where qualifiers, and lower ranked players have made it deep into the second week of the Parisian Grand Slam.
The world’s best and fastest Men’s Marathon runner being surprisingly beaten in what was his own worse performance in a decade last weekend at the rescheduled London Marathon. Wherever you look in 2020 sports results are being turned upside down as athletes across the world are required to train and perform under new and often difficult circumstances.
The multi-million dollar circus that is the Formula One World Championship season commenced amid chaos in Melbourne, Australia when moments before the first practice session a halt was called on proceedings, and all of those who had literally flown in from across the world to participate were told that the race weekend was not going to happen. A logistical tsunami, which even under ‘normal’ circumstances is a challenge.
Since that somewhat erie day in Victoria’s capital city, the sporting world and all of its moving parts has adjusted and re engineered itself in a way that would make any high tech Silicon Valley entrepreneur proud.
As we have increasing learnt and admired over these past months, it is not only the sports men and women across the world who deserve many accolades but the Administrators, Federations, Team Owners, Franchises and venue operators who, in many instances, have created a show out of nowhere.
The US Open Tennis took place in a city that had been reeling from Covid 19 cases, yet the bubble created around that event resulted in another pulsating series of matches which lead to high drama on and off the court.
The previously mentioned Formula One World Championships was reinvented into a landlocked sequence of races where the teams and the entire entourages where kept in a bubble to ensure a partial, if not, entire season is now possible.
The private jet industry continues to enjoy a boom in business as many sports stars prefered the safer route to get to their respective playing locations whether they be across country, or across borders.
Athletes who had previously thought that their opportunity to shine in the spotlight might be a few years away, have shot to prominence over the past few months. Names like Jannik Sinner in Men’s Tennis, Pierre Gasly in Formula One, or Ethiopia’s new running star Shura Kitata who took out the London Marathon are surely names we will hear more of post Covid 19.
Once again Covid 19 has resulted in many beneficial outcomes, and none more so perhaps than across the world of sport. The viability of some sports in some countries has come into question, venue operators have had to invent new ways to have their working assets remain sustainable. Coaches and players have had to implement new training techniques, and to adjust the competitive mindset for competing in new venues, on different courses and in the case of all the Olympians destined for Japan in 2020, delaying their peak performance for an entire year.
Many of the challenges faced by sporting bodies across the world I believe will result in a more innovative reinvention of many sports, which could result in new commercial sponsors being attracted to new audiences.
Some of the changes many of the sports where working on to introduce may be fast tracked, adopted or even dismissed as a result of the Covid 19 experience. New names and new stars will ultimately emerge, and in the case of some of the existing stars their ambition to remain at the top for a little while longer may have received the jolt of motivation they needed to train that bit harder, or bit longer.
Out of adversity comes hope, opportunity and growth. What the sporting landscape will look like in two years from now who knows?
What remains exciting and real are the opportunities now for players, coaches, administrators and cities to look at the way they participate, broadcast, embrace and engage across the entire spectrum of their respective sports.
I say it’s GAME ON.