No need to repeat how the Covid-19 changed the world: we are almost used already to the new reality we live in. Main discussions on Covid-19 are mainly connected with the vital concerns: health, jobs, budget, and political decisions. Today we are going to discuss how pandemic changes the world of sports: in terms of physical activity and entertainment. It may not be entirely apparent for people in large, but the enormous industry has gone through crucial changes on an unprecedented scale, and it is still trying to survive.

What are we talking about

This article is dedicated to all kinds of impacts coronavirus has made on the sports industry. We will quickly review what happened with professional teams, their management, and other businesses directly connected with major sports leagues and their events. Also, we will mention the recreational sports: casual fitness facilities issues and health problems associated with the lockdown. Finally, we will cover the possible solutions and the most apparent scenarios for athletes and industries and touch on the positive impact of coronavirus.

Professional sports issues and scenarios

This block is dedicated to the elite sports community that suffered a lot. Even the major football leagues were on the edge of financial disaster, needless to say of the other sports that were not at all that wealthy. According to some experts, the coronavirus pandemic can disrupt the whole industry: low-budget and non-Olympic sports types will partly fall to the amateur level, and sports with tentpole events will go online. Let’s get a closer look at what happened with major sports leagues and related organizations.

Elite-sports global crisis

Top-class professional sport is not only about players and viewers. It is an enormous ecosystem that includes many businesses involved in the industry: leagues and sports clubs management and junior staff; advertising companies and sponsors, broadcasting companies — even the owners of fast-food stands in ballparks and stadiums. Every link in this chain suffered a lot, and a vast number of minor businesses connected with the sports industry did not survive.

What sport will survive?

Like any other online industry, cybersport is the most subsistent and seems to perfectly cope with public venues’ limited access. As e-sports do not require participants’ physical presence for organizing a contest, it became a whiff of fresh air for stream services and sports betting sites as most cybersports events took place following their initial schedule. According to betting site superbetting. The after-Covid-19 era might become the golden years for cybersport.

Changes in the sports tournaments calendar

Coronavirus’s impact on worldwide professional sports is comparable with World War II’s. Since that infamous period, the world’s history has never faced many cancellations or postpones of the scheduled events.

Summer Olympics in Tokyo, NCAA basketball and NBA tournaments, Soccer Cup, Curling championships, wrestling, MMA fights — almost all the major sports events were canceled, postponed, or rescheduled. After the ban was removed and matches could be organized again, the sports industry did not get back to the same curriculum. The new bizarre era of empty stadium games without spectators has started and the first sports to suffer from it was soccer.

Soccer’s financial crisis

Almost all football teams worldwide were suspended when the covid-19 pandemic had just burst out. It did not last long, and a range of games still took place after a time. Even with severe limitations, it meant a lot for the whole industry. Every breach of a schedule influences the overall well-being of the sport’s economics: it is based on the round-the-clock operation principle. It means that there are almost no reserve funds, and money is constantly invested in the club’s development. For instance, nearly 70% of the budget is spent on the players’ salaries. Due to long-term fixed contracts, the cancellation of games could not impact the salary, so most organizations had to negotiate with football starts about pay cuts. This did not help a lot, though.

Possible future of the football industry

According to the latest statistics, such big football clubs as Real and Barcelona lost about $400 million. Their only solution is the divestiture of assets. What are the assets of a football club? Players. However, if most clubs are going to sell their players, who will buy them? Here is how the pandemic impacted the world of the sports industry: the clubs are going to survive by interchanging the players that will involve several clubs at once.

Another issue concerns football fans. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it seemed ridiculous to play without fans on the tribunes. Thanks to modern technologies, football, and other sports leagues had acclimated to the new conditions when live views became replaced with online streaming. This is another crucial impact of Covid 19, but not the worst one: ticket sales did not bring the majority of income, so it did not affect the budget. On the contrary, it gave a boost for IT technologies.

How will covid-19 impact digital athletic technologies?

Even though the whole sports society is going through a financial crisis, losing billions of dollars for a fouled-up season, this pandemic triggered the explosion of new technologies developed to support the global sports community and compensate for disastrous deadtime in leagues’ operations. If we are talking about the last digital boost’s last consequence, we can suppose that the need for IT support will only increase within the next couple of years.

It is hardly possible that authorities will suddenly lift all Covid-19 restrictions, and the sporting industry will keep the log rolling just as if nothing had happened. On the contrary, it is more evident that the governments will be forced to create some universal health and safety guide for the athletes. This guide might engage using various digital services.

The first attempts to combine the athletic sector with digital inventions already showed success. For example, NBA fans had a chance to watch their teams play from the virtual seats. The athletes who had to continue practicing and playing found a great value in the trackers. Tracking systems allowed them to keep distance and minimize physical contact.

Today, sports organizations consider investing in IT services more than ever before. As most businesses went on the Internet, it is essential to make it possible for people and media to watch the games conveniently. Most probably, great investments will support the technical fit-out of the sporting venues and modernize the stadiums with enhanced Internet solutions like enhanced Wi-Fi or 5G.

Appearing of alternative athletes

While it is pretty evident that the search for IT solutions is inevitable and developed sooner or later even without the Covid-19 pandemic, there are also hi-tech developments that go far beyond the general understanding of sports.

There is a high possibility of brand new athletes’ categories emerging. People tend to gain support from technology for their training, and this practice will gain momentum. Some think that it will not be unusual to have a robot as a partner for individual training in just 10-15 years from now. Recent technology will make sports environments more available for Paralympic athletes: for instance, exoskeletons might become rather typical for them.

Finally, social contacts tend to become something treated as an unnecessary luxury. Therefore, no matter how ridiculous it may sound today, there is a high chance that we will have robot athletes in the future that will replace car racers or fighters. Artificial intelligence is widely accepted now to help athletes train, but AI programs might start framing new leagues and competing with human players in several years.

Therefore, the sports industry will become a competition between athletes and software developers, a brand new level of perception and interaction between sports leagues and the fans’ communities.

Will professional sports go online?

It was a great surprise for the WBSS how popular their virtual tournament became among fans. It beat all records in terms of viewers’ involvement, and even though it can not replace real fights, the organization is seriously thinking about possible innovations that will go along with the traditional events.

Formula-1 also gained great success with virtual racing in F1-19, including top media stars, including singers and athletes. La Liga received $140.000 for their e-championship based on FIFA 2020.

This experience shows that fans are willing to watch alternative versions of their favorite sports and adjust to new reality quite smoothly. As most sports leagues are on the financial wreck threshold, going online until they replenish their funds does not seem an illusory thing anymore. With all limitations currently exist for sports training, transfers between countries and cities, and physical distance, online performance might become even more spectacular and easier for athletes — not saying of belt-tightening, which is a crucial principle of work for most governments and sports organizations.

How will covid-19 pandemics affect the Olympics?

According to experts, the Covid-19 pandemic can affect the whole Olympic games model in both positive and negative ways. The Olympics is an event organized primarily for viewers, and its main point is to gather multiple participants and viewers worldwide in one place. This principle runs contrary to the forced lifestyle we start to get used to in the new reality.

What can it mean for the event? On the one hand, it may necessitate the Olympics’ downsizing as a mass project. However, if we turn to positive effects, it can also make this sector less corrupted, and most middlemen will be forced to leave the business. The number of sports, especially from the amateur sector, will not endure the pandemics, but those that will gain significant support from the governments.

Pro-athletes in the high-risk group: who will lose their jobs?

One curious health research shows that NFL players are in the high-risk group because the league refused to treat some of them with a body mass index over thirty as those who are vulnerable to the Covid-19 side effects. As some experts claim, this can lead to the athletes’ instant public deaths and indeed a negative stance from the sports community and viewers.

If the NFL finally accepts the new rules for the risk-group players, it may be struggling for them to move further on their career ladder.

Covid-19’s impact on college sports

College sports’ issue lies mainly in the ethical aspect. The players are students who perform only on their ambitions and enthusiasm. They are not paid, so making them perform during the pandemic can be regarded as nothing but kids’ exploitation. This message may sound like an exaggeration, but it is so if we keep in mind how much money March Madness and other similar events take in.

Even though many people suppose that young athletes are not inclined to severe effects of Covid-19 disease, studies of one health institute and many independent scientists show that the virus can undermine their health significantly in the long term.

Therefore, most likely, college sports organizations will have to create a brand new model that will protect young community members; if they manage to do this, it will inevitably affect the number of leagues, clubs, and events.

Businesses related to professional sports

Athletic complexes, apparel and equipment stores, stadiums, food and beverage providers were the first private sectors who realized how terrible the impact of Covid-19 is. As an inalienable part of every sporting event, these small businesses found themselves in the middle of nowhere as soon as governments denned their services as non-essential.

According to statistics, approximately 30 percent of small sports-related business owners went bankrupt after three months of suspension. The rest have managed to relocate their enterprises to the Internet or have enough funds to wait until the lockdown is over. However, there is a big question if they will stay in high demand in the next two or three years, so most likely, most sports shops will be available in online marketplaces. The venues’ owners will have two ways: either to diminish their scope or pony up the cash for rearranging areas to fit the customers’ new demands.

Sports fans community

Fans are the key consumers and the leading strand for every sport that receives broadcasting profits. Today, the number of live viewers is limited, and the stadium vibe is almost an archaism. Fans cheerfully accepted online views, but will they last long? According to statistics, online participation in sporting events is prevalent today, and the broadcasting companies register immense incomes. The experts claim that in the nearest two years, the new format’s avid interest will stay static, but it needs to be diverse to keep up motivation. Here we again come to the point of the latest software, applications, and equipment to help develop the online format’s rooting.

Besides, there will undoubtedly be new rules for visiting stadiums and get all services they might need onsite, as the industry will be still striving to resume traditional games at brick-and-mortar stadiums.

What sport will survive?

Like any other online industry, cybersport is the most subsistent and seems to perfectly cope with public venues’ limited access. As e-sports do not require participants’ physical presence for organizing a contest, it became a whiff of fresh air for stream services and sports betting sites as most cybersports events took place following their initial schedule. According to betting site superbetting. The after-Covid-19 era might become the golden years for cybersport.

Healthy habits of non-professionals

Not only sports businesses suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Ordinary people accustomed to regular sporting activity had to stay home, which meant canceling their habitual running, jogging, gym sessions, and amateur team games. It turned out that amateur athletes were not ready for the instant world change, and the lack of outdoor sporting events impacted their physical and mental health. Besides, a problem of obesity that is mainly described in various memes in social networks is more than real, and coronavirus has increased the number of severely overweight people.

Recreational athletes

Covid-19 lockdown destabilized amateur athletes’ physical and mental health, but they found a way to adapt to the new conditions. It was again thanks to an opportunity of training at home with webinars, online classes, and various mobile apps and health trackers. On the one hand, pandemic limitations deprived people of the opportunity to go out, but on the other hand, most found sport the best way to cope with the stress during the quarantine.

This tendency scaled up online courses’ activity; even non-sports-related bloggers kicked off their projects on fitness and related topics like mental health, meditation, yoga, stretching, and others. This burst of activity will not fade with time, experts say: sales of online classes show impressive results as it turned out that people opt for virtual training more willingly. Besides, more calm activities like yoga, pilates, and stretching will become more typical as a part of everyday physical activities, and indoor home sports will stay at their peak of popularity for many years.

Offline fitness industry

Ninety percent of gyms were collecting dust for almost half of a year. Some of them found backstairs and worked illegal, but the incomes were still not, mildly speaking, inspiring. However, the revenues started to gain momentum as soon as the world bounced back from the first strike. Today, the attendance is at the same level as it was at the end of 2019. According to an opinion poll, most fitness club owners do not consider trendy online classes as their business rivals and suppose they will fit alongside.

The main profits of gyms come from people who buy a gym membership; it is a hard rule that the number of members with active passes is much bigger than a fitness club can accommodate. This situation did not change today, and there are even more ghost members who enrolled in the gym on the spur of the moment, feeling guilty for the passive way of life during the lockdown. Many professional bodybuilders will always require a professional gym to maintain their competitive shape, so it does not seem that the fitness industry will suffer in the future.

A new format of visiting the sports club might stay for a long time: people will need a reservation and might be limited in the visit.

The psychological effect of the lack of physical activity

We have already explained how sudden breaks in a sports routine can affect non-professional sports enthusiasts. What else happens when people can not interact with each other during the workout sessions or team games?

It mainly touches kids and teenagers, who find sport a way of communicating with the mates and feeling distracted from school or college curriculum. In other words, playing football, baseball, soccer, or different collaborative sport types, children go through the socializing process. Sports help young people build their communicative skills faster, so we are currently facing the problem with how to entertain kids and help them stay involved in social life.

However, if the vaccination helps let the safety measures down, more kids might show their free will to join some sports teams. It turned out that the kids who suffered from being locked in their apartments for an indefinite time, so the harsh contrast of the lockdown and post-quarantine way of life might help provoke the interest in physical activity in them.

Conclusion

It is still hard to make any more or less precise forecasts today, and probably it is too early to evaluate all consequences of the Covid-19. However, we can already trace a range of particular tendencies that show us how sports and all related industries might develop in the nearest future.

The main consequences include incredible financial losses, bankruptcy, and a desperate need for online tools support. Most small organizations, including minor professional, amateur, and college leagues, will not survive even with new systems. The ones who will stay in the industry can hope for a renaissance of the traditional way of supporting the teams and playing on the stadiums no earlier than in two or three years.

Overall, the whole situation gave a noticeable boost to the IT industry as the only way for the sport to be maintained on fans’ radar screen. Will the sports software solutions make a crucial impact on the rest of the world? Most likely, they will, but is this positive effect worth the downfall of hundreds of clubs and companies and critical deterioration of mankind’s wellness? It remains an open question.