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Topend Sports Newsletter: 16 Sept 2020

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A New Era In Sports

Hi again from the team at Topend Sports. It has been a tumultuous year for everyone, and the world of sport has certainly not been spared. Like me, many of you are invested in the world of sport, whether as a coach, trainer, competitor, or at the very least as a spectator.

After many postponements and cancellations, many of us thankfully have sport to watch and play again. But is it the same? The coronavirus has impacted the way we think, live, work and play, and the world of sport is no exception.

Sports have had to adapt to this changing world, which is not unusual, with sports continually changing - adaptations to the rules and playing styles following new technology and equipment, improved training methods, advances in fitness and techniques, and expectations of fans to name a few. But with the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of significant change brought in quickly to cater to these new circumstances.

The sign of things to come was the deferring of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the world's biggest sporting event. This has sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world, and has impacted athletes from a wide range of sports. 

Athletes who were directing all their efforts to peak at the right time for their one moment on the big stage have now had to change all their training, that's if they are even able to train and compete at all. Competitions have been canceled or seasons reduced. Games may be shorter, played at different times of the year, under different conditions. No wonder picking winners has been so hard! 

There has to be some silver lining, right? Some of these changes must be positive for sport.

Technology in sports has been brought to the forefront, quickly bringing in changes that may have eventuated anyway. An example is remote umpiring and goal-line technology, which up until now has been slowly being introduced at the elite level. Now, to reduce the number of people on the court, at the recent U.S. Tennis Open they replaced human line judges on most courts with Hawk-Eye Live, an electronic system that makes automated line calls. One day we won't need umpires at all.

Just as workplaces and schools have embraced online interaction, coaches and trainers have moved online to provide their services, removing the need to travel, being able to service a greater number of people, and giving those who live in regional areas access to quality coaching they could not otherwise access.

Has home ground advantage gone? Some competitions are being played in location hubs, so neither team are playing at their home ground. Some sports are being played behind closed doors, so the advantage of the cheering home crowd is also eliminated. With limitations on the number of live spectators, there is more focus on the online and tv viewer's experience - do we even need such big stadiums anymore.

We have taken a leap towards virtual sports. So far we have removed umpires and crowds, do we even need athletes? During the lockdown period, many sports hosted esports championships to replace the real thing. The future is here.

Many of these changes were going to happen one day, they have just been accelerated. We are yet to see which of these changes will continue after this saga abates, hopefully, it will be the changes that make it a better sporting experience for both athlete and spectator. We need something positive to come out of 2020.

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