As the world maneuvers through the COVID-19 pandemic, many sports fans are feeling the effects as it relates to the ability to watch games across the NBA, NHL, MLS, NCAA and, eventually, MLB.
The virus led to the cancellation of all NCAA tournaments, and the postponement of the four professional leagues’ seasons, with the NBA and NHL forced to halt action just one month before each leagues’ playoffs were set to begin.
With no set end to the postponement in sight for the NBA, NHL or MLB, and a projected return date of May 10 for the MLS, fans will be without live sports for a long stretch of time as many deal with isolation and social distancing.
But, in a world full of digital options for streaming sports or simulating games, there are a few different means for fans to consider to fill the void over the next few months.
To help you out, here are six different ways to keep sports in your life as you sit at home during these tough times.
-Filling out brackets and rewatching old March Madness tournaments
A unique idea for those missing March Madness? Turn the clock back to a year in the tournament’s history that you’re unfamiliar with, and treat it as a fresh event.
Print out brackets, along with rosters and/or schedule results from teams in that year’s tournament, and go through the process in old-school fashion with good ol’ pen and paper.
You can find plenty of old March Madness games on YouTube, whether it’s through the NCAA’s “NCAA Vault” playlists or other users’ uploads, and maybe throw a few on across multiple screens to help mimic the intensity and insanity that the month is known for. Watch a few games per round, and cap it all off with the Division 1 Championship game for whichever year to finish it out strong.
To help you out, here are some links to printable PDFs of five brackets, along with YouTube playlists, from 2007 through 2011, if you’re looking for a way to print them out without accidentally finding results.
- 2007: Bracket / NCAA Vault Playlist on YouTube
- 2008: Bracket / NCAA Vault Playlist on YouTube
- 2009: Bracket / NCAA Vault Playlist on YouTube
- 2010: Bracket / NCAA Vault Playlist on YouTube
- 2011: Bracket / NCAA Vault Playlist on YouTube
Video game simulations of your favorite sport’s season
What many thought of as a joke at first has become a viable option, as many fans are utilizing video game simulations to help them watch sports as if they were tuning into TNT or NBC on a Wednesday night during the NBA or NHL seasons.
NBC Sports Washington has been putting out a simulation of each game on the Wizards’ schedule in NBA 2K20 on the days they were scheduled to be played, and a gamer in Vancouver is doing something similar for those in need of some hockey with NHL 20.
If you’re looking for a way to watch something as close to what you’d get in 2020 with current rosters and schedules, video games are actually a viable option to consider.
Free access to NBA League Pass, NFL Game Pass, NHL.TV
Many leagues are giving fans free access to their on-demand streaming services, allowing them to get football, basketball or hockey fixes in the form of past games to pass the time.
NFL fans can access free NFL Game Pass subscriptions through May 31, and those following the NBA can utilize NBA League Pass through April 22. In addition to that, the NHL is giving fans the ability to watch NHL.TV and NHL Live for free through April 30, giving everyone a variety of options to stay entertained through any quarantines.
ESPN put out a helpful piece entitled “The 30 games you should rewatch on NBA League Pass right now” for those who may feel overwhelmed and are wondering where to start when they first access the platform.
It’s a solid gesture by all of the leagues involved, and a good start for anyone looking for something to throw on the TV during some downtime.
New installment of MLB The Show
If you’re a baseball fan and upset about the start of the season getting pushed back, you have a newly-released alternative to consider: MLB The Show 20.
For those with a PlayStation 4, the latest installment in the MLB The Show franchise released on March 17, 2020, allowing fans the opportunity to check out what life would be like with Mookie Betts on the Dodgers, Madison Bumgarner on the Diamondbacks, and Anthony Rendon on the Angels.
Reviews indicate the game has improved since last year, and it may be a worthwhile investment for gamers if the COVID-19 outbreak creates a prolonged postponement as it relates to the start of the 2020 MLB season.
Streaming 30 for 30s on ESPN+
ESPN+ was already a big resource for fans before the COVID-19 outbreak, but the absence of live sports has added to its importance over the last week.
The biggest plus (no pun intended) that comes with access to the streaming platform? The ability to watch every 30 for 30 ESPN has in its library.
Looking for a basketball documentary? Turn on The Fab Five, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The Knicks, or I Hate Christian Laettner. You’d rather a football feature? Check out The Two Bills. Need a variety? Watch The Two Escobars or Chuck & Tito.
There are tons of options from the last decade for fans to enjoy, and hours of entertainment to get their minds off of everything happening in the world today.
Reading this story
It’s corny, but even reading this story right now helped you get your sports fix, right?
If you’re following us on Twitter, you’ve seen that we’ve been putting out some of our favorite stories that we’ve published over the last year to help fans get their sports fixes during these tough times.
In case you’ve missed it, here are some links to some of those features for you to enjoy:
- ‘Pave the way for the game’: Former NFL DB Jason Bell making moves in media, finance as he spreads football across UK
- ‘Your Dad’s A Gamer’: MLB Network’s Robert Flores turns love of video games into new platform with Facebook streams
- ‘Look good, feel good, play good’: Basketball shoes helping WNBA players make history with new platform
Hope you all stay safe as you follow any direction from local and national officials, and good luck to everyone as you enjoy your sports in unique ways over the next few weeks.