Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has changed the perception of many sports clubs on Esports. Mainly because all the matches and events were temporarily suspended, and Virtual Leagues seemed to be a natural alternative. However, the question is: should we treat them as a direct substitution for traditional sports? On the one hand, as it’s developing well in terms of its potential and popularity, the number of clubs that decide to invest in it, especially in western Europe, constantly increases. On the other hand, recent data has shown that it doesn’t bring as many profits and ROI to the clubs in the short-term as one could expect. In that case – what is the truth?
We ask five questions and look for reasonable answers to them to help you understand how virtual clubs might be perceived concerning traditional sports clubs.
#1 SHOULD ESPORTS BE TREATED IN THE SAME WAY AS TRADITIONAL SPORTS?
Many people think that Esports, as the name suggests, is the same as sports, but with one small difference – everything happens online thanks to technology. Such a simplification seems to be too imprecise. Indeed, there are many similarities between those two. However, it’s details that make a difference. When you delve into this subject and learn it thoroughly, it will turn out that the disparities are small but extremely significant.
Esports is close in perception to traditional sports but might be considered utterly unattractive by older generations. Why? If you’re used to enjoying your free time in the same way for many years, you are less prone to any, even minor changes. Moreover, what’s as important is the fact that Esports’ players aren’t so famous as real athletes. Predominantly, we don’t know their history, their life background and the difficulties they have gone through. Simply saying, we don’t have any emotional ties with them.
Football clubs may try to move their fan engagement from their regular athletes to Esports players for the time of quarantine. But, at the same time, you should avoid persuading them that it will be a direct replacement for the suspended games. Instead, strive to present the Virtual Leagues as a close alternative, which, however, has many different rules compared to conventional sports.
First, spend some time preparing your fans for Esports as if it was a completely new sports discipline. Educate them so that they are up for everything that comes with virtual matches. In this way, you will allow them to fully enjoy the pivotal possibility that Esports brings, which is very similar to traditional sports – experiencing emotions through fair competition.
#2 SOCIAL MEDIA – IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL SPORTS AND ESPORTS?
Social media seems to be the easiest way to verify and increase your fan engagement. If you’re a person running a sports club’s fan page, you know what’s the main factor influencing its activity – emotions that come from competition.
In traditional sports, such a fierce rivalry very often originates from geographical locations of the clubs or the differences in the social statuses of the people that represent them. All kinds of sports were initially a chance for various environments to fairly prove to their rivals that they were better. Such clubs gained new fans if they built a bond with the environment they represented.
The same happens nowadays, but reality has slightly changed. Now the quality of life of people from different regions and social classes doesn’t play a pivotal role. However, one thing hasn’t changed. It’s still crucial to create emotional ties with your fans to motivate them to support you.