An Ode to Sport in 2020: It was better than we thought

Jack Glennon
Dec 31, 2020

Over the festive period and as things slow down slightly, I’ve sat down and taken stock of the chaotic year that 2020 has been. This year will forever be branded and stained by the Coronavirus. To call this year weird would be somewhat of an understatement and I’m not sure I will ever fully process it.

Many people, and rightly so, will look at 2020 with a sense of doom and gloom especially in the world of sport but personally I believe there are plenty of positives and it wasn’t as bad as some have made out. Now before we get started, there is an awful lot to be sad about. The loss of fans from events this year has put a real and dangerous strain on sports organisations, not to mention the financial impact this will have had on so many sports organisations across the country.

As we head into 2021 I want to point out the positive things that have happened this year.

Marcus Rashford 

Let’s be honest, there was only one place to start. The Manchester United and England forward is someone I’ve written about earlier this year but when asked to look back on sport in 2020, his name is the first one to come to mind. It shouldn’t really need me to explain why he’s on this list. If it does then you must have been living under a rock.

The work that Marcus Rashford has done off the pitch campaigning for free meals during the school holidays, forcing the government to U-turn on their original decision and raising millions for underprivileged children is nothing short of heroic.

When we launched Behind Sport back in May, one of the first articles I wrote talked about things to look out for in sports this year. Sports stars using their platform for good was number one in the list and I’m pleased that it came true.

I look up to a lot of people in this world and Marcus Rashford is certainly one of them.

Football clubs doing their bit

Sport sits at the heart of our communities, none more so than our beloved football teams. When the pandemic hit back in March and the country went in to lockdown, clubs stepped up. We saw everything from donations to local food banks and charities, refunding of season tickets when people potentially needed that cash most, Chelsea opening up the hotel at Stamford Bridge to NHS staff, supporting the NHS, delivering meals to the elderly who were shielding, activity packs and online sessions for local children. 

I could go on listing the many different ways that football clubs stepped up but we’ll be here until 2021. If you’re interested, here’s a list of all the things Premier League clubs supported their communities (https://www.premierleague.com/news/1647358) 

To put it simply, when their communities needed them, the football clubs stepped up.

*Disclaimer – I know that a lot of other sports stepped up as well but we’d be here forever and I know you’ve all got lives to be living!

 

How sports adapted for a safe return 

The pandemic brought the world to a halt in March, including sports which meant that for a little while we were left without the thing that our lives revolve around. Although, it wasn’t long until the return of sports was upon us. The UFC were one of the first organisations to make the return and did so with near perfection. Fight Island on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island has hosted some of the biggest MMA events this year. A hat must be tipped to Dana White and the team at the UFC for the work they did this year to bring the sport back as quickly as they did.

In other sports we’ve seen both the NBA and MLS form bubbles at Disney World in Orlando, boxing return following a similar style to the UFC, football return in the UK and so many more.

When faced with adversity, the world of sports quickly innovated and brought some sort of normality back for us all.

Tech leads the way to create lockdown content

In the first lockdown, the one where everyone had to stay at home and there was no live sport, one thing I was fascinated with was watching how the world of sport responded and the different, innovative ways used to create content for everyone stuck at home. There are a few that come to mind straight away. 

Leyton Orient were one of the first teams to use tech with their ‘Ultimate Quaranteam’ which saw them host a 128 team FIFA tournament. F1 hosted live virtual races with both celebrities and professional drivers featuring. The Open golf tournament was cancelled which saw the R&A launch ‘The Open for The Ages’ which saw seamlessly edited footage of previous champions compete against one another at the St. Andrews Old Course.

 

Again, the list could go on and on. Even after the return of sports we’ve seen organisations go above and beyond and investing more in producing content for fans who can’t be at the events.

We’ve seen so much innovation in sports this year, it makes me proud to be involved in this industry.

There’s no denying that this year has been terrible and given the choice, most of us would probably choose to wipe it from history and start again. However, as I’ve hopefully pointed out above, there were some positives that we can take from the last 12 months. Here’s to a better 2021.

Oh, I almost forgot. 2020 was the year we finally launched Behind Sport and I just wanted to take a second to thank everyone who has supported us, followed us or featured in a piece of content. Before we launched we had no idea what the reaction would be like and the reaction we actually got blew us away. In the new year, we want to take what we’ve built here at Behind Sport and push it to the next level so stick with us.

Happy New Year.

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