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Nero and that Improv!

If we had to describe today’s sporting life in one word, many would surely say “survival”. Many championships have started and finished, the international cups are already moving at a fast pace, and the teams are also being selected for continental and world championships. However, planning is impossible, preparation is doubtful, and results may depend on the current COVID situation.

Bread and Circuses

Who doesn’t know the old Roman saying that made the role of sport clear thousands of years ago? It immediately marked sport as the key to the functioning of the vast Roman Empire. Although infamous rulers like Nero exploited this truth, do not think that his theory is not applied today! Every sane leader knows that people need a circus to stay motivated! Sport also symbolises that everything is not yet lost. Well, that sentiment could not be more needed than it is right now in 2020 due to COVID-19. “Humanity is not in good condition”, and that is undeniable right now. Many are dealing with the business implications of the epidemic, and quite fittingly, more and more people are also paying attention to changes in sport. That’s why sports had to restart, no matter what. We have a huge advantage over Roman times – millions of them, of course – that today, thanks to technology, sports don’t require physically luring spectators to stadiums. Another question is how large the effect is if you can only watch a particular event on TV. But the point is, there’s a circus again! It can also be said that the smaller the audience of a given sport or event, the more the loss is felt. After all, when a small town cannot attend their soccer team’s match, that means that the whole town loses its biggest weekend event. The same is not true for a team whose matches are broadcasted to millions. If we look at the viewership data, the current situation is even beneficial, as more people are forced to stay home than normal, so they are more likely to “attend” the match via a screen. But what’s wrong?

The circus also needs the circus

Many forget that even in good old Rome, it could be said that some gladiators relished the fight — in fact, according to research, there were many. Those gladiators were attracted to the roar of the crowd, and even if their lives were at stake that day, they could at least march in as celebrated stars. From the athlete point of view, we can come to interesting conclusions about the current situation. On the one hand, the predictability and belief in preparation have been damaged week by week because all teams are at risk of infection. At any time, COVID can invade a club or national team and attack their best players. Besides the many elite athletes having to fight for their lives, this also has a significant impact on team performance. In professional sports, a design that has been perfected over decades has now been completely destroyed by the virus. But there’s no question that athletes also had to start competing again because preparing themselves in a “home office” would have done serious psychological damage in the long run. After all, today’s athletes are also gladiators who want to show off their skills. They love when stadiums filled with tens of thousands thunder at the sight of their talents.

Improvisation is the key to success

Many professionals are now trying to assess what could be the key to real success in sports today. Many also address the question of whether a continental championship, world championship, and the upcoming Olympics won during COVID can be said to be “fair”. Will the best really win, or will it all depend on luck? Is it a fair competition if a club loses their best player, but the matches have to be played, and the other team wins because of that? Or is it fair that in one country, due to a much worse viral situation, athletes cannot prepare like athletes in another country, and because of this they fall short at a world competition? At the moment, everything is in question, and that is already reflected in the basic mechanisms of each competition. It is not possible to schedule matches in the normal way; it is not possible to hold qualifiers for world competitions in the traditional way. It is impossible to plan how to get to the Olympics or know what will be waiting there for the athlete, coach, and professional staff. One thing is certain: nothing is certain. What can a good athlete do, then? What can a good sports professional do then? Improvise! You have to react to the situation, whatever it is. It should be noted that the rules may change, and conditions may rise at any time that cannot be planned for. Perfect preparation, of course, is essential even now, both physically and mentally, with one new factor becoming a key to success. In fact, it overtook everything else: unpredictability!