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A roundup of sports news, with a lens on the pandemic and youth culture

The state of sports remains an interesting arena as we kick off 2021. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the global sports industry, and will continue to impact this vertical long into the year ahead. Read on for Cassandra’s roundup of the latest and most pertinent sports news, which is shaped by the pandemic and by how the industry is trying to reposition itself to capture young fans.

NFL X NICKELODEON

Nickelodeon hosted its first ever NFL playoff game just this past Sunday. The broadcast was extremely kid-friendly: The game, pitting the Chicago Bears against the New Orleans Saints, was hosted by former NFL player Nate Burleson, who explained his commentary in a way that young fans would understand, and the game footage was interspersed with Nick’s iconic slime, along with other cartoon graphics and Nick character cameos, for some additional fun and silliness. It was smart of the NFL to begin its foray into reaching younger demographics in this way, especially as so many young people have given rise to the popularity of eSports, even over and above traditional sports.

THE TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020 UPDATE

As of last Monday, the countdown for the upcoming Tokyo Olympicshit the 200-days-to-go mark,” but as cases surge in Japan, officials are considering which measures to implement in order to ensure that the Olympics can still be carried out safely. In fact, the International Olympic Committee is hoping to get the Covid-19 vaccine into the arms of Olympics participants so that the games can indeed be held in July (though the IOC doesn’t want to preempt frontline workers and other vulnerable populations). As of December 13th, ENGINE Insights found that only 25% of respondents would be willing to attend a large outside event such as a sporting event, but as the vaccine rollout continues to pick up momentum, this stands to change, especially looking out to this summer and sporting events like the Olympics.

THE RISE OF LEGAL SPORTS BETTING

The state of New York is considering giving next-door neighbor New Jersey a run for its money: Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his support for legalizing online sports betting just last week. New York not only has the potential “to be the largest sports wagering market in the United States,” according to Governor Cuomo, but revenue from this endeavor would help buffer the state’s economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. According to PlayNJ.com, “New Jersey will exceed $5 billion in total online sports wagers for 2020, generating more than $40 million in taxes for the state in the calendar year,” confirming the lucrative nature of the prospect, especially as analysts predict New York’s online betting market will outstrip that of the Garden State.