Professional athletes compete in esports competitions

As an alternative to live sports, students have tuned in to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), opting to view electronic gaming tournaments between professional athletes.

In early March, the New York Times reported “The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League, Major League Soccer (MLS) and Major League Baseball suspended play. The National Collegiate Athletic Association canceled all of its championships, including the men’s basketball tournament.”

Cal Poly Pomona’s Bronco Esports Club will not be hosting any virtual competitions of their own however, students watched NBA players, MLS players and National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) drivers participating in live video game tournaments.

“It’s an interesting alternative. The fact that they’re even recognizing it as an alternative is a huge step forward for the e-gaming industry in general. I want to see esports make it big, and the fact that actual pro athletes are hosting their own tournaments is amazing,” said CPP Esports director of public relations and first-year computer information systems student Connor Rauch.

NBA players chose to play 2k Sports’ basketball video game, NBA 2k20. In the “player-only” competition, 16 NBA players represented their organizations in a virtual exhibition match. The competition took place April 3-11 on ESPN. There was a cash prize of $100,000 and the winner of the competition was Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker.

“The E-sports going on are pretty dope, … We all play video games so it’s really fun to see. I think that’s all we can do right now. As far as seeing the leagues come back, I hope the latest is early June. We need to finish that basketball season.” CPP alumnus Adam Castillo said.

Referring to the current state of virtual gaming fifth-year Mechanical Engineering student, Anthony Lopez said, “It’s OK (watching athlete’s virtual competitions). It’s not the greatest because I can always hop on my own video game,” fifth-year mechanical engineering student Anthony Lopez said. “It’s just not the same as watching the NBA. I don’t see the leagues getting back to their traditional selves until later this year, and even then, I think there’s going to be a lot of changes to each sport when it comes to scheduling.”

NASCAR is underway with its own virtual competition where drivers have volunteered to be part of a simulated racing display. The first competition took place on March 22 where racer Danny Hamlin was the victor.

Fourth-year business administration student Jacob Ortiz owns an Instagram page (@Legionhoops) surrounding the happenings of the NBA. Ortiz describes current alternates to physical gameplay.

“Although the real thing is much more entertaining, it’s definitely something I’ve been paying attention to, mostly because there’s no other sports going on,” Ortiz said. “I covered the ESPN NBA2K tournament on my page, and some posts got the same engagement that a normal NBA game would.”


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