During The Outbreak: All Sports Are eSports Now

from the vroom-vroom dept

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, and in many cases shutting it down, has become so pervasive so as to even dominate the headlines here at Techdirt. To say the outbreak has altered our way of life would be a massive understatement. Social distancing, shutdown states, stuck in our homes, jobs reduced and gone; this whole thing has become a nightmare.

And it impacts even areas of our life that we enjoy, but are less important than others, such as sports. Professional and college sports have basically taken an unwanted holiday, shutting down in an effort to partake in killing this virus off. It's been strange for fans like me, who wake up on Saturdays and have to find legit ways to watch sporting events that took place years and years ago as a substitute for live broadcasts. And if you think there aren't a great many people who are starved for live sporting content, you need only look to what is going on in the autoracing world, where it's basically all become eSports now.

We'll start with Formula 1 Racing, which pivoted from its canceled live races into using video games as a substitute, using current and former drivers behind the virtual wheels.

Interestingly, because some drivers are pretty good behind a virtual wheel and others aren’t, the competition will “be configured in such a way to encourage competitive and entertaining racing,” which is a gentle way of leading into the fact rubbish drivers will be given advantages like “reduced vehicle damage, and optional anti-lock brakes and traction control for those less familiar with the game.”

The races are going to be held on the same days as actual races were supposed to go down, which means the first one should be running any minute now (at time of posting), since the Bahrain Grand Prix was meant to be held today.

These races are being broadcast over the internet and a whole bunch of people are watching them. It's somewhat gratifying to see that real drivers driving virtual cars in a game realistic enough to get people to suspend the notion that they're watching video games somewhat has become a thing. All the more cool is how this is helping fans of the sport limp along through this epidemic while still being able to watch a version of the races and racers they love.

But that pales in comparison to what NASCAR is about to pull off. Having created its own ad-hoc race using NASCAR video games and, again, real drivers, the whole thing was watched by enough people that the broadcast channels are going to pick it up and televise the next races.

The first eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series event, held on Sunday, was—like Formula 1's move to video game competition—a chance for both drivers and fans to get some kind of racing fix in these weird and challenging times. In first place was three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, and nearly one million people watched it on Fox, so now a whole season of it, called FOX NASCAR iRACING, is going to take place.

And just to drive the point home that this is all about giving people a sense or simulacrum of their normal Sunday experience, Fox is bringing in the normal television commentators into the virtual "booth", including Jeff Gordon.

To say that this whole episode the past several weeks has been surreal seems like it lacks punch. Still, it's been interesting to watch eSports fill the void for us, helping us try to pantomime normalcy in a world gone mad.

Filed Under: covid-19, esports, pandemic, sports


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 7:44pm

    Wacky alternatives to sports are also getting more attention. One such alternative? Marble racing!

    (Hey, don’t laugh, it can be more engrossing than you might think.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 26 Mar 2020 @ 9:48pm

    Notice to Silicon Valley:

    If you would like to increase your sales, make products that cannot be hacked, have no back doors, and can detect who may be attemptng to hack and surveille the user that notifies the user.

    That is what people want and expect from Silicon Valley. People do not want to buy technology that takes over their lives, their homes, their appliances, or their cars.

    I know that that may be hard for you to believe, but I am telling you the truth.

    If you don't want to take my word for it, try doing a survey.

    So, if you wonder why people don't want to pay for your technology, now you know why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 26 Mar 2020 @ 9:51pm

    Re:

    People don't want to buy technology that spies on them and endangers their lives and property either. So, if you wonder why your customers left, now you know!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    PaulT (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 11:10pm

    Re:

    While your comment has nothing to do with the actual article:

    "If you would like to increase your sales, make products that cannot be hacked"

    This is only possible if they make products that cannot access the internet. Once you as the customer demand some sort of remote connectivity, you introduce the possibility of it being accessed by a bad actor.

    While IoT security is pathetic and they have a lot of room for improvement, you make your choice as a consumer as well. If you don't want risk, you choose a product without remote access abilities. If people buy the "smart"devices more than the offline "dumb" ones, then you as consumers have told the industry that you find some risk acceptable in return for additional functionality.

    "So, if you wonder why people don't want to pay for your technology"

    If that were true, you wouldn't be complaining because the at risk tech would have ceased production. But, people are buying it. That's the issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 11:20pm

    Re:

    Hey Stephen, have you changed and come around to being a Trump supporter? Even you would have to admit the wisdom of closed borders now, right? And even you can see how stupid sanctuary cities are now, right? And even you would agree that in times like these, Made in America is the label that makes sense right now (especially for pharmaceuticals), yes? America first is now clear a good policy for Americans, right? Come on Stephen, even YOU have some newfound appreciation for the stable genius of America, right? RIGHT?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    PaulT (profile), 26 Mar 2020 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "And even you can see how stupid sanctuary cities are now, right?"

    One day, you might accidentally learn the actual meaning of that term.

    "Made in America is the label that makes sense right now (especially for pharmaceuticals), yes? "

    Is that why Trump was caught trying to bribe Germany for their medicine?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2020 @ 11:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Sanctuary cities? And where does that leave “sanctuary cities,” where the rule is that all foreigners are good, with no questions asked about where they have been? Questions are good.

    Specifically, we should ask pointed questions of the Democrat presidential frontrunner, Joe Biden. Does he really mean it when he says “no deportations”? That even criminals with the coronavius will be safe from being expelled? And that the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy should be abolished?

    Stable genius of America. TYG (thank you God) for POTUS

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:05am

    Why are you obsessed with me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "“sanctuary cities,” where the rule is that all foreigners are good, with no questions asked about where they have been?"

    Like I said, you should look up the real definition some time.

    "Stable genius of America. TYG (thank you God) for POTUS"

    One sad piece of entertainment is seeing you try to spin the inaction and fraud of that sad waste of skin. Was it you who was boasting last week about how the economy was strong and the American people healthy? This week, US confirmed cases of COVID-19 have exceeded China's numbers and 3 million people have applied for unemployment. What horrors does that orange muppet have in store for you next week, I wonder?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, and it's worth noting there's at least one person who died as a direct result of taking a drug based on Trump's advice. The "stable genius" is killing his own citizens!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Police have gained the power to fine people up to £960 or arrest them if they repeatedly break coronavirus lockdown rules, while Boris Johnson has been urged to explain why he declined cooperation with the EU in purchasing medical equipment.

    Rishi Sunak has announced long-awaited state help for the self-employed, following figures that showed nearly one-quarter of them had been living in relative poverty even before coronavirus struck. The measures, while welcomed for their content, have been criticised after the chancellor said payments may be delayed until June.

    Face it, Trump is a GENIUS!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is just fake news. Someone died after drinking aquarium cleaner, you fucking ignorant fake news globalist idiot.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/no-president-trump-did-not-make-anyone-ingest-fish-tank -cleaner/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure what Boris being a twat (and his cabinet being twats) has to do with Trump being a twat, but it's certainly possible for all of them to be twats at the same time. Whataboutism might work on weak minded fools such as yourself, but I'm happy to point at the problems wherever they might happen to be.

    Thankfully, I'm in a place without an outright twat leading it right now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 12:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "This is just fake news"

    Oh yes, anything you don't like is fake news, I forgot.

    The fact is, whether or not he's directly responsible for the moron killing himself, he is guilty of spreading fake news about the drug he was talking about. Most of what he did say about was simply untrue. But, he does have a history of lying to his supporters, doesn't he?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 27 Mar 2020 @ 1:05am

    Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers who was a former school super-intendent decided to censor the entire state of Wisconsin. He banned all non-essential travel out of the state, shut schools and non-essential businesses down indefinitey ( until Trump is no longer President or until Trump gives Tony Evers and the DNC what ever they want) so that when the entire state ceases to function, everyone will blame Trump and elect Biden, as if that would help. 

    Yeah, Biden to the rescue. This coming from a person in charge of schools and a state. 

    I am not a Trump fan either, but Biden could spend the rest of his life on the train and not know that he had missed a thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 27 Mar 2020 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re:

    I realize that using the internet connects people, but everyone is aware that there are also backdoors into technology and the tech industry has practiced extreme predation. That cannot be denied.

    As far as the companies selling products, I remain skeptical, particularly since the Apple Stores were the first to announce a company wide shut down, and since less than a dozen publicly traded companies use GAAP. Yes, they sell some products, most of which is stock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There is a problem with the story, however: It’s nonsense. Sad as their predicament is, the only “advice” to be gleaned from the couple’s behavior is “don’t be a unimaginable moron.” The headline of NBC’s story is “Arizona man dies after ingesting chloroquine in an attempt to prevent coronavirus.” But this is not correct. He did not “ingest chloroquine,” and neither did his wife. Rather, he ingested chloroquine phosphate, which his wife found in her back pantry the form of fish tank cleaner.

    From the interview:

    “I was in the pantry stacking dog food and I just saw it sitting in the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?’ And it was.”

    It wasn’t.

    I’m afraid that this is the stuff of idiocracy — the equivalent of a person seeing a bucket of chlorine next to her swimming pool and drinking it because the letters on the outside are arranged in a similar order to the word “chloroquine.” And the idea that the president is to blame for this is . . . well, it’s simply incomprehensible to me. It is possible, certainly, that Donald Trump (along with Andrew Cuomo) has been too bullish on the prospects for chloroquine as a tool in the fight against coronavirus. But that, if true, is a dramatically different sin. We simply cannot run our country on the assumption that “I have high hopes for this drug currently in clinical trials and hope it will eventually be fast-tracked by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor” will be heard by reasonable people as “go into your pantry right now and eat fish tank cleaner if the ingredients look similar to you to a word you heard on television.” Insofar as there is any advice to be disseminated here, it’s “don’t eat industrial cleaning products,” which one would hope is a lesson that most people have already internalized.

    Not to be outdone, Forbes got into the action, too. Here is the lead paragraph from a piece on the affair by Tara Haelle, who offers “straight talk on science, medicine, health and vaccines”:

    When President Trump incorrectly announced that the FDA had fast-tracked approval of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, he added, “The nice part is, it’s been around for a long time, so we know that if it—if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody.”

    Except it just did.

    No, it didn’t. And one can learn that it didn’t by simply reading the next paragraph, which confirms that, “Instead of the drug form of chloroquine phosphate, the couple ingested a chloroquine phosphate product that’s used to treat parasites in fish. ”

    53
    This being so, one wonders what the “public service” angle can be here, for if chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine do turn out to be as useful as I assume we all hope they will, they will be limited, regulated, subjected to our existing prescription regime, and delivered, to borrow a term from Tara Haelle, in “drug form.” Does NBC know this? Does Forbes? Or do they believe that, if and when a cure is found, we will see the president call a press conference at which he encourages Americans to forage around in their pantries for consumer products that contain some of the same component parts as the treatments the medical community has begun to utilize?

    Insofar as these outlets had a responsibility here to “educate the people,” it seems to me that they could have better achieved this by running this story beneath a glaring “DO NOT DO THIS!” sign. Not everything in this vast and populous nation is a referendum on the president.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 2:27am

    censor the entire state of Wisconsin

    …fucking what

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 4:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "But this is not correct. He did not “ingest chloroquine,” and neither did his wife. Rather, he ingested chloroquine phosphate"

    ...and? The people are idiots, this we can agree. But, the reason they took it was because a bankrupt gameshow host told them that the real drug was a cure (which it is not, and saying that betrays his lack of understanding of the information he's given). Whatever they took, they took it because they believed the information Trump was giving out, which at the state of things at the moment was irresponsible.

    Like it or not, there was a clear cause and effect here. Also, it's fun watching some people try desperately to spin this. Were the roles reversed, I guarantee you'd have been calling for Clinton to be hung for this.

    "Insofar as these outlets had a responsibility here to “educate the people,” it seems to me that they could have better achieved this by running this story beneath a glaring “DO NOT DO THIS!” sign"

    Better still would be the president not giving half-assed, half-true glimpses of information to people during a critical time, in between him bitching about people he doesn't like on Twitter like a teenage girl. Messaging is extremely important during these times, people are panicking and the kind of person who believes anything that Trump says is not the kind of person to be checking with real news before taking action.

    If your argument is that the media needs to better police the poor statements given out by the president, I agree. I just disagree on where the responsibility really lies, which is on the idiot liar not the people who are trying to edit them into some coherent level of truth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 4:17am

    Re:

    So... you're calling travel restrictions censorship and people shouldn't be blaming the guy who's actually president now for things he did?

    Can you rewrite so that it makes sense?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 4:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You see, we will not agree. The people are not idiots. The people are armed. Like anti-bodies. Ready to kill infectious socialist Idiot assholes like you. We now have an anti-virus against socialism. Respect it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Rocky, 27 Mar 2020 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's a lot of words that doesn't really matter. Why? Let me give you two statements.

    1. Someone died by ingesting chloroquine phosphate out of the blue.
    2. Someone died by ingesting chloroquine phosphate because Trump talked about chloroquine and how safe it was.

    One of the statements above accurately describes what really happened.

    Regardless of how stupid you have to be to ingest chemicals willy-nilly, the triggering factor is still Trumps little speach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 5:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    " The people are not idiots"

    Which people? The ones who believe that a bankrupt gameshow host is a primary source for medical advice, of the people who apparently think they can shoot a virus with their compensation devices?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The people are not idiots, IN AMERICA! The uk is another issue. Witness:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/uk-says-prime-minister-boris-johnson-has-tested-positive-fo r-the-new-coronavirus.html

    YOUR PRIME MINISTER is an idiot. Our POTUS is a genius’s dream of success!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The people are not idiots, IN AMERICA"

    So, they'd be idiots if they weren't in America, but the bar has now been set so low in the US they don't qualify?

    "YOUR PRIME MINISTER is an idiot"

    Yes, he is. I'm glad to have got away from Tory rule a long time ago.

    Again, whataboutism only words on incredulous morons like yourself. I will say that both Johnson and Trump are laughable failures, and that I'm ashamed of the electorates in both countries for what they have forced upon the rest of us.

    "Our POTUS is a genius’s dream of success"

    Ted Kaczynski and Jeffrey Dahmer were apparently of genius level intelligence, but I would probably be opposed to putting their ideal candidates in charge of things. Well, unless the qualification for success is measures in lost lives and livelihoods, in which case your guy looks to be aiming for a place on the high score table.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    Travel is people my friend

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re:

    What will it take to convince you that Trumps approach to dealing with this pandemic is dangerous, more deaths than caused by a war? (Look up Spanish flue sometime, it killed more people that WW1).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:48am

    Oh god, we’ve got another SovCit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    50% of the US population has a below average IQ. The Trump half.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    Relax ... it was a weak attempt, granted, but was a joke

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    I happen to live in Wisconsin and there is no censorship going on of any kind.

    Also, what Evers has done in Wisconsin is no different than what other states with Republican governors are doing, so you're wrong and a hypocrite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re:

    "If you would like to increase your sales, make products that cannot be hacked"

    This is only possible if they make products that cannot access the internet.

    Even so, old video games didn't access the internet but they were indeed hacked. You could make completely non-electronic analog content, but someone would just convert them to digital.

    The only way to make products that cannot be hacked is to make something that cannot be replicated by a computer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re:

    Not to mention had Tony Evers not done any of that stuff, he would have received criticism from all over the political spectrum for not doing enough to combat the virus. Andrea Iravani is out of her (I assume Andrea is a she, and if not, I apologize) mind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That is true, but the actual impact of someone hacking an individual offline piece of hardware vs. someone hacking something that phones home every 30 seconds and listens to voice commands is pretty minimal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    PaulT (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm confused about your second paragraph. Your previous comment seemed to be talking about general IoT problems and why people would not buy such things (despite all evidence to the contrary), but that seems to be talking specifically about people selling warehouse stock during a pandemic which hasn't shut them down. What's your angle here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2020 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re:

    This is only possible if they make products that cannot access the internet.

    The first viruses spread long before the Internet became a thing, and without use of bulletin boards, because of sneaker nets and 5-1/4 floppy discs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Donald Trump is a poor man's idea of a rich man, a weak man's idea of a strong man, and a stupid man's idea of a smart man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 27 Mar 2020 @ 8:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps it's spambots still can't pass a turing test?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. icon
    whitewooden (profile), 28 Mar 2020 @ 3:23pm

    Always so interesting to visit your site

    Always so interesting to visit your site.What a great info, thank you for sharing. this will help me so much in my learning

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Mar 2020 @ 5:39pm

    Super Tux Cart

    If want OPEN SOURCE racing game for eSport, can use Super Tux Cart.
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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