Professional basketball and volleyball, the bread and butter of winter sports, haven been hit hard by the spread of COVID-19. All basketball and volleyball games are being performed without any spectators in attendance indefinitely these days. Pro soccer and baseball, which are about to start the new season soon, are also facing deepening concern. The Korean pro baseball league has canceled exhibition games for the first time since the launch in 1982.
In the meantime, however, this situation could serve as an opportunity to reflect on the existential basis of sports and the relationship between players (teams) and fans. Retired coach Choi Hee-am for Yonsei University’s basketball team emphasized “fan first” spirit by telling his players, “Can you even make a single ballpoint pen by yourself? As fans make you athletes earn money and enjoy popularity, please do your best.”
According to a study by Denver University in the U.S., the divorce rate in cities where Major League teams are based was 28 percent lower than that in cities without such teams. The divorce rates in Miami, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona fell by 30% after the introduction of their respective baseball teams. “Fun and friendship are important values for marriage. The process of enjoying and discussing about baseball is a way to maintain their relationship of love” said psychology professor Howard Markman at Denver University. There is another study showing that watching sports helps elevate the quality of life and happiness, and improves brain development and language comprehension.
If watching sports at sports arenas in person is difficult to do, despite significant positive effect of watching sports, what would it be like watching games at home? Thanks to technological advancement, it is quite possible to enjoy and feel the thrill of watching live games on TV, PC, or mobile devices. “You can maximize the excitement of watching games at home by having real time conversations with other fans through streaming service,” said Jang Won-seok, professor of sports science at SungKyunKwan University. “Even though there are no fans at the stadium, it is important for team to make efforts to communicate with fans.”
Star players including Park Chan-ho, Pak Se-ri, and Kim Yu-na spread the message of hope to Koreans who were in despair amid several national crises. It would be great if players and fans exchange encouraging text messages or good comments each other? Although the reality before us is frustrating at best, we should be not constantly down and in despair. Your precious ordinary life should get back on track as soon as possible, and it would be great if sports can help you regain vigor and cheer.
Jong-Seok Kim email@example.com