“I just realized that my life is empty without football.”
This statement, made as a 22-year old walked past the locked doors of a hitherto very busy sports viewing center, effectively captures, to varying degrees, the thoughts of virtually every sports fan around the world.
With the Coronavirus pandemic mercilessly ravaging every part of the world – with cases now in in hundreds of thousands – sports men and women as well as fans have been forced to stay at home in the past month.
When you look at the economic implications of these shutdowns, you find a myriad occupations and businesses that have been hit hard by the suspension of sports events around the world.
Sports merchandise producers and sellers, matchday vendors, sports newspapers and televisions, stewards, cleaners, sports analysts, stadium photographers and other occupations too numerous to mention are some of the livelihoods that have been jeopardized by the Coronavirus menace.
Considering that sport in its purest form is a utility, it is justifiable that there is no sort of compromise that allows for sports to go on remotely like other areas of life; but that still does not take away the short-term and relatively long-term consequences for sports workers.
Sports betting is another field of sports that has been hit hard by the Coronavirus.
The multi-billion dollar industry is one that thrives on the plethora of sporting events strewn around the world, but when those sports have been canceled because of a pandemic, there is really just a dearth of events to bet on.
Explaining how badly the lack of sports events to bet on is affecting sports betting, Chief Executive of U.K.-based betting house William Hill said; “I told a couple of our IT guys to put on fencing suits and we could stream it. Obviously I’m kidding, but this is all we’re doing: trying to find content for people to bet on.”
Another interesting statistic to fully appreciate the hit betting houses are taking is the mercurial spike in betting on hitherto unknown or little-known leagues. An example of this can be seen in American betting house DraftKings revealing that wagering on three new offerings — Russian Premier League football, Turkey’s Süper Lig and Turkey’s 1. Lig — went up 1,058 percent, 1,338 percent and 2,187 percent respectively last week. But sadly, even those events have been suspended, with both Russia and Turkey calling off league games until at least late April.
The drop-off from this demographic is that betting shops everywhere are having to rely only on virtual gambling to maintain running costs, and most people just won’t do virtual bet with good reason.
That takes us to the ones most hit by the worldwide suspension of sports – fans.
As every sports fan would agree, there is this feeling of satisfaction that comes from watching your team or sportsperson compete, even if they lose.
The globalization of this attachment has led to fans becoming more and more attached to their teams, making unprecedented situations like a Coronavirus lockdown an inconceivable reality.
Sports fans all over the world are being refunded their money for season tickets and pre-booking for events, but this does little in ameliorating the disappointment of not being able to watch your team play for a while.
The problem is that, as a mass event business, sports events cannot just go on because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus among fans.
However looking at the bigger picture, the suspension of sports events around the world is a necessary evil, as it is either that, or an Armageddon-caliber infection problem.
Life must be saved, before pleasure or livelihood can be derived. But when one looks at the scary numbers that explain the hit sports is taken, one can’t help but wonder how sport would recover adequately, and in time to be the succor that mankind has always needed in trying times.
As Andy Dolich, NBA financial operations expert says, “Sports has always been the arm around the shoulder at the end of major trauma. Now sports is right in the middle of it.”
We can only hope that it comes out of this stronger, at least for the sake of those who get their daily bread from it.