Believe it or not, we’re already almost a quarter of the way through 2022. Already, it’s been an exciting year for the world of sports, with a great Super Bowl matchup a few weeks ago and an Olympics shortly after that.
During this year’s Olympics, viewers got to watch exciting performances by the world’s top winter athletes, including in some new sports: big air freestyle skiing and women’s monobob. Norway set a record for the most gold medals in the history of the Winter Olympics, and Haiti and Saudi Arabia participated for the first time.
Super Bowl LVI was more of a hit in the U.S., with over 112 million viewers. Fans of the LA Rams celebrated hard the next day after their second-ever Super Bowl win. And while Cincinnati fans may have felt they were robbed of their first title, they can take pride in the fact that the game was so close.
It would be hard to cover every exciting sporting event coming up this year. But here are some of the ones to follow.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the MLB will have resolved its current lockout. However, as of this writing, the first games of the season have been canceled, after the owners and the MLB Players Association failed to reach an agreement. If the strike continues, more games may end up canceled.
However, when they eventually come to an agreement, there may be a silver lining: the controversy may counterintuitively spark new interest in baseball, bringing higher ratings later this year.
Nobody in America will forget the moment when the NCAA canceled March Madness in 2020. After two years and multiple variants, we seem to once again be emerging from the pandemic. Hopefully this time for real.
Perhaps there would be nothing better than the NCAA pulling off a stellar tournament to signal that the nation has turned the page on COVID-19. It would be fitting. First, a canceled tournament and then a successful tournament would bookend two frustrating years and might give some closure to a weary nation of sports fans.
The Winter Olympics might be over, but hockey fans still have lots of hockey to watch. Every Winter Olympics, ice hockey is one of the most popular events. Fortunately for American fans disappointed that the US didn’t win gold in 2022, we’ve still got a couple of months of games until the Stanley Cup.
We would be remiss in not pointing out that Versus Systems powered fan engagement for several teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. Versus offered a variety of interactive features to augment remote fans’ playoff experience. The Anaheim Ducks and other NHL teams have already renewed their contract with Versus through 2023, meaning second-screen fan engagement will make its presence known at this year’s Stanley Cup, too.
On March 6th, the World Marathon Majors kicked off for real with the Tokyo Marathon. Distance runners around the world are excited to see if Brigid Kosgei and Eliud Kipchoge (the current male and female world record holders, respectively) can continue their dominance at the distance.
That same weekend, the Arnold Palmer Invitational (part of the PGA tour). The golf season is heating up with the first major championship, the Masters, on the weekend of April 7th-10th.
Last year’s Kentucky Derby encountered turmoil when the initial winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for betamethasone and was disqualified. Hopefully, this year’s race will be a clean one. Luckily, Triple Crown enthusiasts (and horse racing gamblers everywhere) only have another couple of months to wait.
The Australian Open in January was marked by controversy after Novak Djokovic was deported from the country over his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, the French Open will also require vaccination, but with cases dropping around the world, that could change. Tennis fans – and the world – certainly hope cases continue to fall.
Almost every sport has been impacted by the vicissitudes of COVID-19 variants, but one that’s been a little more insulated has been car racing. Not that COVID hasn’t resulted in race cancellations, but drivers have lower risks than other athletes. The Daytona 500 is already behind us, but NASCAR fans still have many more races to look forward to.
In Formula One, races will kick off here at the end of the month. This season will be interesting as a number of major regulation changes will go into effect, including more restrictive technical regulations and the reintroduction of ground effects.
American football fans still have to be patient for a few more months. Both the NFL preseason and College Football will start up again at the end of the summer. For some Americans, this is the only sport that matters – or the main one at least.
We can’t mention football without reminding readers that Versus has been intimately connected to both professional football and NCAA, powering everything from the 2021 NFL Preseason to the Military Bowl in December. Versus’ XEO Arcade is filled with branded games for NFL and collegiate teams (including the L.A. Rams, winners of this past Super Bowl).
There are a whole host of other events this year that has people excited, from MLS (which Versus has partnered with in the past), to lacrosse, to wrestling.
Perhaps the one thing common to every fan of every sport in the hope that this time, the pandemic really will end. And then we can finally, truly relax and enjoy the sports we love. If COVID ends, and every fan – of every age and health status – can finally feel safe to return to stadiums in person, that would be the most exciting development for sports in 2022.