Day 12 without sports: Virtual sports are better than no sports at all

Whether we like it or not, Sunday may have given us a glimpse into the future of televised sports.

CBS showed some classic March Madness games over the weekend to help viewers get their Basketball Jones, but as great as those games were … we already knew the outcomes. 

The real drama we feel from sports comes from NOT knowing who wins. One reason it was such a huge deal when the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series was because they both had gone so long without doing it.

So how is it possible to fill the void without actual games? With VIRTUAL games that are as close as possible to the real thing. 

NASCAR staged an online race with real drivers. And a major cable network put it on TV.

Formula One did the same, with the action streamed live on TV and several social media channels.

today’s Formula 1 esports race with professional drivers and gamers peaked at over 350,000 viewers across all streams on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook not including all of Sky Sports

huge day for racing and the power of video games#F1esportspic.twitter.com/mNWueROV7y

— Rod ‘I don’t sign NDAs or embargoes’ Breslau (@Slasher)March 22, 2020

The NBA season continues unabated through the NBA 2K simulation.

And later this week, on what was supposed to be opening day for the Major League Baseball season, we’ll see the entire schedule played out on the Strat-O-Matic baseball game.

It’s not the real thing, of course. But it’s pretty close. And right now, it’s the best we’ve got.

Sports video of the day

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On this day in 1994, Wayne Gretzky broke Gordie Howe’s NHL record with his 802nd career goal. 

Some other notable moments in sports history that occurred on March 23: 

1948: Kentucky captured its first NCAA tournament title with a 58-42 victory over Baylor. 1952: Bill Mosienko of the Chicago Black Hawks scored three times in a 21-second span in a game against the Rangers, the fastest hat trick in NHL history.  1957: North Carolina defeats Wilt Chamberlain-led Kansas 54-53 in triple overtime to win the NCAA tournament for the first time.  1974: David Thompson and North Carolina State upended UCLA in the Final Four. The Bruins had won the seven prior national championships. 

Story time! Here are our best 

JOE BUCK WILL CALL YOUR LIFE: He’s just trying to get some reps!  SERIOUSLY, IT’S STORY TIME: 50 sports books worth checking out NFL: 10 XFL players NFL teams should target in free agency OLYMPICS: Health officials warn about reigniting coronavirus spread CHRISTINE BRENNAN: Athletes, not officials, leading way in addressing Olympics concerns  ALL-STAR MASHES OFF SON: OK, this wasn’t really fair, we suppose   

Sports you could be watching

It’s back to the well of memorable moments on FS1 with the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in soccer between the USA and the Netherlands at 5 p.m. ET and the final round of the 2018 U.S. Open golf championship (won by Brooks Koepka) at 8 p.m.

ESPN will show both heavyweight bouts between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury – the controversial original from December 2018 and then last month’s rematch – in back-to-back fashion, starting at 7 p.m. ET. 

The games we’re missing 

Had the games been played, we would have just whittled down the NCAA tournament’s original field of 68 over the weekend to the Sweet 16. (That means many of us would have already asked around at work to gauge the interest in a second-chance pool.)

And we would’ve had a full slate of basketball and hockey action to hold our attention.

NBA 

Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks Phoenix Suns at Indiana Pacers Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat Denver Nuggets at Chicago Bulls Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks

NHL

Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames Anaheim Ducks at Edmonton Oilers  Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights

Follow Gardner on Twitter @SteveAGardner

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