from the this-is-serious dept
As we all live through this bad but real life knockoff of a season of The Walking Dead, we’ve talked about how professional sports leagues are dealing with forced shutdowns. With auto-racing leading the way, several leagues and/or broadcast stations have turned to broadcasting athletes playing video game versions of their sports since they cannot broadcast the real thing. This has been done over varying mediums and to varying degrees of professionalism, but it’s quite clear that there is a thirst during what is nearly a national shutdown for something like the live sports the country regularly enjoys.
And maybe I’ve been confined to one space for too long, but NASCAR’s version of all of this, broadcast on Fox Sports, is getting genuinely entertaining. Not only as intended, either, but also due to the wild variance with how serious those involved are taking all of this. Let’s start with the NASCAR driver who failed to take it as seriously as those around him would have liked.
The eNASCAR iRacing Pro invitational Series event, where NASCAR drivers are racing each other on the internet because they can’t currently do it in real life, is already giving us some spicy sports action. During Sunday’s race, which was televised, Bubba Wallace quit in the middle of a race after tangling with a rival in the most video game way imaginable.
NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was intentionally bumped in this past weekend’s iRacing event, ragequit the game on national television and stream, and then got dropped by his sponsor after the race for doing so
esports are definitely sports now pic.twitter.com/XvCAq8eJnW
— Rod ‘keydaddy’ Breslau (@Slasher) April 6, 2020
In case you can’t see the embedded video or tweet, Wallace got bumped a bit during the video game race and decided to rage quite on national television. When a whole bunch of people gave him shit about his tantrum on Twitter, he essentially responded by telling everyone to screw themselves since this was just a video game, not real life.
But here’s the thing: video game or not, the iRacing broadcast on Fox has very real sponsors, one of which was not at all pleased with Wallace’s attitude and actions.
GTK where you stand. Bye bye Bubba. We’re interested in drivers, not quitters.
— Blue-Emu (@BlueEmu1) April 5, 2020
And if you can’t see that one, the tweet is Wallace’s sponsor telling him it’s dropping its sponsorship of him. As the earlier tweet stated, esports are sports now, and that includes the fact that athletes need to maintain their image when sponsored by corporate interests easily swayed by public perception and pressure.
But if you thought it was only the corporate goons taking all of this seriously… nah.
In the same event, as The Guardian reports, driver Erik Jones missed qualifying because of connection issues, and “seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson fired his spotter less than 20 laps into the race after falsely being told he was clear of another car, only to crash.”
If that isn’t entertaining on some kind of level then you just don’t like sports or video games or weird and interesting events that feel like the future. If all sports is esports now and that means pro athletes getting hammered by sponsors for rage-quitting games on national television, then I’m all for it!