By the second week of March, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and Major League Baseball had suspended games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The good news for those missing the rush from watching a competitive game is that not all sports are suffering from the same challenges. Esports, the now mainstream billion-dollar industry, is on its way to being the most resilient sport during these devastating times.
In fact, well-known athletes from the NBA to the NHL are now participating in the sport that heavily relies on streaming and games often played from the comfort of the living room when more than 90% of Americans are currently under some form of stay-at-home order.
However, even esports has an uphill battle to weather the storm brought by the pandemic. For example, the Pokémon Championship Series was canceled and companies like ESL and Overwatch League have moved some arena-focused competitions to online platforms. Overall, many stakeholders - broadcasters, leagues/teams, venue operators, vendors, sponsors and many others - will likely confront a variety of legal issues relating to contracts, insurance, employment, health and safety, sales, and operations. Here are just a few examples:
Seeking legal guidance can enable esports stakeholders to find unique ways to keep the sport afloat. The sports industry as a whole may find a light at the end of the tunnel through esports, currently “the only game in town.”