COVID-19: Sports buffs finding solace in re-runs, TV series amid blackout

Mumbai, April 2 (IANS) With the coronavirus pandemic putting a spanner across all works of life, sports fans have their plates empty all of a sudden when otherwise, they would have had it full. The latest sporting event in the casualty list is the Wimbledon, which on Wednesday, was cancelled first time since 1945 — during the Second World War. The championships will now be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

The Tokyo Olympics has also been pushed back to next year while almost all football and cricket activities have also been stalled. The fate of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) also hangs in balance as the country is under a 21-day lockdown. And IPL franchises have decided that they will have the next meeting only after the government comes up with a fresh advisory on April 14.

“Sports is one of the primary sources of entertainment throughout the world. With cancellations of almost all the sporting events coupled with isolation, fans are finding it difficult to keep themselves engaged,” said Prasana Krishnan, co-founder of FanCode, a digital sports viewing platform which among others, telecasts the I-League.

“Some avid sports fans are currently watching re-runs and highlights of their favourite matches while others are watching sports-related documentaries and movies to cope with the lack of live sporting events. Sports fans are also exploring sports-based simulation games,” he said.

“Amid our preparation for the Inter-Railway tournament, the sudden suspension of sporting activities has forced us to take a backseat. However, the show must go on, and even the preparations. Now, I keep myself engaged through jogging, free-hand exercises, trying my hands at meditation and asanas.

“Also, since there is no live sports broadcast, I have been rewatching footage of my own games, staying updated on sports through news and sports apps like FanCode,” said Nidhi Buley 31, a cricket fanatic and captain of Central Railways cricket team.

23-year old Sagar Shetty, a freelance videographer, said it has become a pattern to check all sporting activity everyday morning and now he is finding it difficult with nothing live on television.

“It has become a regular pattern for me to wake up and check all the live matches for the day, and prepare my fantasy sports team on Dream11. Because of sports and fantasy sports, I am able to connect with my friends on a regular basis, in spite of a busy schedule. My friends and I have an active group on Dream11 where we challenge each other on our sports knowledge by creating our own contests and teams,” he said.

“The sports fans are currently facing a blackout due to the suspension of most sporting events. We understand it was the only logical thing for the authorities to do, and can’t wait for everyone to come out stronger from this pandemic. Wishing all the athletes, coaches and everyone who is affected a speedy recovery,” said Kunal Patel, a sports fan in Baroda.