Updated: Jan 10
Either we surrender to what was, or we get up, face, and make what should have been, happen. We chose the latter and swam through the storm. We chose to remain #UNSTOPPABLE. After the world of sport took a big setback in 2020, true to the very nature of the sport, we managed to regroup, revive, and leave this roller-coaster of a year with some wonderful moments.
Through milestones, achievements, moments and movements, the year 2020 left its mark through sport.
The past year saw many moments across the world of sports that gave us joy as well as tears. But here, we capture our top 12 (not in any particular order) from the year 2020 related to the world of sports that connote significant milestones, positive impact and our sheer passion for sports.
1. Rise of Online Gaming & Esports
The gaming industry in India, after the boom in usage of smartphones and the internet, has started gaining way more prominence across all age groups, and most importantly for the youth. The pandemic and the consequent push to the virtual world have aided the progress of online gaming, as people were forced to stay indoors. Thus, many turned towards online gaming platforms.
The platforms are attracting hundreds and thousands of new gamers on a daily basis. Online gaming will remain a trend in a post-pandemic shift, according to a survey by gaming company Indian Gaming League (IGL). The trend is here to stay, indicated over 75% of the people surveyed.
The total number of audiences for Esports is expected to touch 14.4 million, which will include both occasional viewers and Esports enthusiasts.
The Esports Industry in India is still booming and is in its initial stages of growth.
2. Indian Government Taking Steps To Make More Athletes Out Of Children
The Khelo India program is a multi-pronged initiative of the government towards building a fit and active nation, while also developing future medal winners for the country.
The Indian states that have been identified as first and second leg as part of this program will be upgraded into Khelo India State Centres of Excellence (KISCE). To upgrade the existing centres to the KISCE, a ‘Viability Gap Funding’ will be extended for sports science and technology support for disciplines practiced at the centre and also bridge the gaps in requirement of sports equipment, expert coaches and high-performance managers. Earlier in 2020, the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development and the Hon’ble Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports launched ‘Fit Hai To Hit Hai India’ campaign for school children.
Around 13,868 schools affiliated to CBSE took part in various Fit India programs and 11,682 schools received the Fit India flag. In the last 8-9 months, 2.5 lakh schools got themselves registered under the Fit India program.
Rounding up the year under this program, the government also announced the FIT INDIA SCHOOL WEEK to encourage more children and their parents to take up fitness as an active part of their lives.
3. Yoga Recognized As A Competitive Sport
The Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda Yoga and Naturopathy Unani Sidda Homoeopathy) and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, formally recognized yoga as a competitive sport.
This ancient practice and India’s gift to the world has been embraced by populations across the globe and is actively pursued by millions of people.
4. Sports Will Be Part Of The School Curriculum Across India In The New Education Policy
Hon’ble Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Kiren Rijiju said that India’s new education policy will have sports as part of the curriculum and not as an extra-curricular activity. A “very high-level” committee has been constituted to shape the National Sports Education Board.
Through sports, the students will stay healthy, be able to maintain good fitness levels, experience a boost in their self-esteem, see enhanced leadership skills, be emotionally fit, disciplined, and more social.
This landmark policy decision will have a rippling effect across industries and strata of society.
5. New Sports Added To The Program At The Tokyo Olympic Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), after a lot of deliberation and keeping in mind their impact on gender equality, the youth appeal of the sports and the legacy, have decided to let 6 games make the cut - Sport Climbing (Speed Climbing, Bouldering, Lead Climbing), Surfing, Skateboarding (Slide, Grind, Ollie, Regular Stance, Goofy Stance), Karate (Kata, Kumite) and Baseball/Softball. The fact that these sports will use Japan’s land as well as the surrounding sea, has brought out a wave of anticipation across sports fans. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have seen a glimpse of these events in a competitive avatar this year. But this only adds to the anticipation and excitement for the athletes who practice these sports as well as sports fans who eagerly look forward to the Olympics in 2021.
Here is a glimpse of what competitive speed climbing looks like!
Source: IFSC Climbing World Cup Xiamen 2019 - Speed - Highlights
6. New Rules Of Play In The Covid-19 Era
While everything changed and everyone was confined to their homes, a lot changed on the sports field too. As sport found a way to get back onto the field, new guidelines were introduced to keep the players as well as the staff and crew safe.
Creation of Bio-bubbles: The bio-bubble is the new protocol where everyone associated with a sporting event goes into a little cocoon away from the outside world. Teams and staff stay put in hotels booked entirely for them and are ferried to and form fields. Only people inside the bubble are allowed into sporting venues.
Marking a win: Handshakes, hugs, and high-fives between players have given way to fist bumps and nods. Formula 1 abandoned its podium ceremony, which ended with drivers being sprayed with champagne. “This is the new norm for the year,” sporting director Ross Brawn said.
7. In-stadia Fans & Spectators Make A Comeback In Digital Avatars
With spectators unable to watch live sports in person due to the pandemic, the cheers and jeers had to come from somewhere. Teams, leagues, and broadcasters around the world are taking different approaches to bring fans back into the stadium.
Interestingly, technology allowed for the pre-recorded crowd noise to be set up to accompany the developing action of the live game, strictly for the home TV viewers. In the stadium, the players, coaches and whoever else happened to be around heard none of that.
The virtual journey didn’t just sum up with fake cheering voices, but also brought up an idea of making the players believe that their fans are still watching them, if not from the stands then from the sofas in their homes.
Many sports events that resumed on-field operations used digital screens to bring fans back into stands virtually.
Source: cnn.com / A wide-angle view of the court and the fan boards before the Brooklyn Nets game against the San Antonio Spurs on July 25, 2020, in Orlando, Florida at The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
8. Lewis Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher's Record Of 91 Wins
At the Portuguese Grand Prix in October 2020, Hamilton broke the F1 legend's record of 91 wins and a few races later, her went on to equal Schumacher's record of becoming the World Drivers' Champion for the 7th time.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain after his record breaking win during the Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, October 25, 2020. (AP)
Lewis Hamilton's team, Mercedes also went on to win its 7th straight Constructors' Championship and managed to break the 6-year winning streak held by Ferrari from 1999 to 2004.
9. Chiefs’ First Super Bowl Win In Half-A-Century
Patrick Mahomes tiptoed down the sideline for a game-turning touchdown, added three TD passes and guided the Kansas City Chiefs to a 35-24 win over the Tennessee Titans for the AFC Championship. The Chiefs’ advanced to their first Super Bowl berth in half a century!
Source: inc.com / Patrick Mahomes celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs' victory in Super Bowl LIV. Getty Images
10. Liverpool’s First Title In 30 Years
Liverpool created history when it finally lifted its first-ever Premier League title at Anfield after the win against Chelsea. It is Liverpool's first league title in 30 years. They were finally able to get their hands on the coveted Premier League trophy. They celebrated their lifting of the trophy with hundreds of banners draped along the famous end. Manager - Jurgen Klopp was the first onto the podium, dancing up to the stage.
Liverpool has now become the seventh name on the Premier League trophy.
Source- Sport Bible
11. Empowering Women Through Sports
Though women’s sport has made significant progress recently, efforts to ensure gender balance and equal opportunity on and off the field of play continue. Sport has also evolved into a powerful tool for societal change.
Many-a-times, the initiative to empower women through sports comes from those who may not be sportspersons themselves.
On International Day of the Girl 2020, Young Leader Carolina Joly came out with the project titled “MOVE TO IMPROVE” for Panamanian women. Here, sport lent its power to the cause and became a tool to empower the lives of women who suffered from domestic violence.
The future is promising and in safe hands when we hear about youngsters like Ananya Kamboj – a 16-year-old who is working on empowering women through sports and is recognized for her thoughts and efforts.
Taking the viability of women’s sport on the professional level up a notch, names like Jio, Dream11, Tata Altroz, Unacademy, Paytm and CEAT all became official sponsors of the Women’s T20 Challenge conducted this year alongside IPL.
12. Sport Continues To Become A Voice For Human Rights Issues
The 1968 Olympic Black Power Salute is considered to be one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.
Source: Wikipedia / Gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race at the 1968 Summer Olympics; both wear Olympic Project for Human Rights badges. Peter Norman (silver medalist, left) from Australia also wears an OPHR badge in solidarity with Smith and Carlos.
52 years later, sport continues to be a voice for strong messages of social change.
The BLACK LIVES MATTER campaign that resonated with a strong message for equal human rights across various aspects of life on a global level, found a strong voice through athletes, sports leagues, and sports teams. From the NBA to the US Open to the Premier League, sport provided strong, impactful visuals towards the cause. The message and the sentiment were loud and clear – equal rights and respect on as well as off the sports field.
Source: vox.com / Los Angeles Lakers’ star players Anthony Davis and LeBron James kneel during the national anthem before Game 3 of the NBA first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on August 22. Kim Klement-Pool/AP
That is our list of the top 12 from 2020 in sports!
We hope 2021 brings us a whole new way of experiencing sports in the post-COVID era with more thrills, more delights and even more memorable moments to add to the annals of history.