At present writing, due to the coronavirus, every major sport across the country has halted operations in an effort to protect players, fans, and to comply with CDC recommendations. In an effort to fill this gap, ESPN will revive its comedic “Ocho” brand on Sunday. Among ESPN‘s offerings will be a cherry pit spitting competition, a cup stacking competition from 2007, and a marble race, among other competitive oddities.
The slate of programming is a tongue-in-cheek look at the lack of sports in a coronavirus dominated world. In a new piece for The Atlantic, ESPN contributor Rick Reilly looks at the “stadium-sized” hole growing in the heart of America where sports used to be. As Reilly notes, this is the first time in the history of televised competitive sports where none of the major leagues have operated. This has led the author to find different ways to amuse his desire for competition, such as watching children throw rocks or reality television reruns. With that in mind, Reilly calls on ESPN to air classic sports contests to ease the need for sports across the country. “It would be for the public good. We need sports, any sports if only to have one safe zone where we can talk with a crazy uncle without arguing about Donald Trump. We need sports because we now live in a world where each day seems to start with some previously unthinkable horror. Sports always gave us one happy place to end the night: ESPN’s SportsCenter, that blissful one-hour recap of all the things superhumans did that the rest of us can only dream of,” Reilly writes.
If ESPN complies, they could fill a large void of entertainment a large portion of the country. Additional data from 2016 showed that nearly one-quarter (24%) of Americans said that watching sports on TV was their favorite thing to watch.