One of the worst-hit sectors due to the ongoing pandemic has been the sports sector. During the first half of the year, sports tournaments and leagues were cancelled, suspended or postponed all over the world, with some very high-profile casualties among them.
The Olympics and football’s European Championships were moved to next year, while Wimbledon was not held for the first time since the Second World War, as was also the case for The Open, one of the four major golf tournaments.
The rest of the golf majors were postponed to the latter half of the year. Even tournaments supposed to be held in late 2020 have not been spared – cricket’s T20 World Cup, scheduled for late November in Australia, had to be moved as well, with the event now being held in 2022 instead, while the 2021 edition will be hosted by India as previously scheduled.
Many of the major sports leagues have made a tentative return over the last couple of months, in the absence of fans and with very strict testing and hygiene protocols in place. This looks like being the new normal for the foreseeable future, and sports teams and organizations will need to adapt to this to be able to survive.
One of the ways in which many organizations have adapted is by going online. There has been a lot of demand for online sources of entertainment during the various lockdowns that were enforced globally, and that demand has not gone away. Online streaming, gaming, and even online gambling have seen a lot of new interest from people. This allowed the gambling industry, for example, to survive to an extent, as more and more people went online to play a casino game for real money, and even sports leagues embraced this concept, as they started their own esports tournaments to give fans content and allow them to stay connected to their favourite sports tournaments even when there was no live action taking place.
In a similar move to those postponements, the MLB Little League Classic match between the Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians has been scheduled for 22nd August 2021. The Little League World Series will also be held at the same time, while this game itself will be a part of a weekend of baseball games, to be televised by ESPN as a part of its Sunday Night Baseball programme. This year’s Little League Classic match, between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox, had to be cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
The Little League Classic, which was launched back in 2017 by the MLB and the MLB Players’ Association, has been a great hit, with the likes of the New York Mets, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals having played in the annual game, among other teams. It has helped bring the game closer to kids, and has been a big reason for the increase in popularity of the sport of baseball among American children during this time period. Thus, the decision to cancel the 2020 edition of the game was not taken lightly, but ultimately was the correct one to protect children and their families during this time. The plan is to have a full stadium for the 2021 game, with players from the Little League World Series in attendance, along with their families. Local youth baseball and softball organizations will also be invited, with the game being held at the iconic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Joe Maddon, who is a Pennsylvania native and manages the Angels, has said that he is looking forward to the match next year, as the enthusiasm of the kids is infectious and really shows how the game has been embraced by them.