Sports to get superfans through this Covid-19 Winter

From Formula 1 to tennis, there are still some things taking place this winter to satisfy your sports craving

Sport has always been a source of entertainment and joy, irrespective of what is going on in the world. Despite being a cliché, the idea that you can forget whatever ills or stresses that afflict you by being immersed in sport is undeniably true. This has become ever more evident in the world of Covid-19, where for periods the sheer exhilaration and adrenaline-inducing emotions that sport can produce were withdrawn, and little or nothing else could compare. However, many sports have returned to our world, and with them an antidote to the constant swirl of negativity that can seem all-consuming. Trinity News has identified some of the most exciting sports to get you through this Covid-19-affected winter.

“F1 in the madness of coronavirus is as engaging, thrilling and as compulsively watchable as ever.”

Firstly is Formula One (F1): although halfway through the season and Lewis Hamilton seems to be progressing inevitably to his seventh world title, it still has plenty to offer. If one positive benefit can be taken from Covid-19, F1 has had to resort to using classic tracks such as Imola and the Nurburgring which previously couldn’t compete commercially for contracts that wealthy, more generic tracks, like Abu Dhabi could. The result has been a revelation; seeing F1 cars, the pinnacle of human engineering, driven around beautifully-designed tracks, showcasing their spellbinding speed has been astounding. Whilst Mercedes’ hegemony reigns supreme, having just taken a seventh constructors title at Imola, there are multiple subplots to maintain the sport fan’s intrigue. Who out of Renault, McLaren or Racing Point can secure third in the Constructors’ Championship? Can Charles Leclerc continue his stupendous form of dragging the maximum out of an inferior Ferrari car, or can Max Verstappen through sheer skill, luck and human ingenuity snatch another victory from Mercedes? F1 in the madness of coronavirus is as engaging, thrilling and as compulsively watchable as ever.

The Premier League, like F1, is still, with Covid-19 protocols in place, going full blast ahead. Football is the most popular world sport for a reason. Its unpredictability, brilliance, and at times poetry transfixes billions globally. The Premier League is the perfect representation of this, and it has not disappointed this season. Every team has already suffered a defeat with some absurd results — Aston Villa demolishing Liverpool by five goals, and Manchester City inexplicably losing by three to Leicester. Southampton are currently in the top four with Manchester United languishing fourteenth. This is set to be one of the most exciting seasons in Premier League history, and with Liverpool and Manchester City’s superiority potentially threatened, we could see some unexpected challengers for the title. On the other hand, it could just be an aberration of sorts, with normality shortly resuming. Whatever it may be, for sport fans the unfolding season is set to be as gripping and entrancing as any in recent memory.

The Six Nations may have ended, yet domestic and international rugby will still be available for fans to consume with relish. Despite a somewhat anticlimactic end to the Six Nations from an Irish perspective, a new innovative international competition, the Autumn Cup, is set to commence this month. The Autumn Cup, replacing the traditional November internationals, will take place 13 November to 6 December. Consisting of a pool format, the Six Nation countries will face off again in addition to Fiji and Georgia. This is another fantastic opportunity for sport viewers to enjoy a month of top-level elite international rugby. Although not having the same intensity and stature as the Six Nations, it is a prospect for the likes of Andy Farrell, Ireland’s head coach, to experiment by introducing some fresh faces to the squad. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see the approach of teams to the inaugural edition of the tournament.

“Like Rugby, tennis has enjoyed a condensed season this year, with the US and French open being played out of sync to previous times.”

Like Rugby, tennis has enjoyed a condensed season this year, with the US and French open being played out of sync to previous times. It certainly was a strange sight to see Rafael Nadal play ‘til 1am in the darkness of a Parisian September night, rather than a pristine April afternoon. The tennis does not stop there though, with the ATP World Finals set to begin in London at the O2 arena from 15 to 22 November. The top eight players in the world face off in a hyperintense and competitive week of tennis, attempting to claim a title whose stature is only bested by the four Grand Slams that take place each year. This year’s participants are composed of a combination of experience and youth, with four players under 24 making up the field. It will be fascinating to see if the young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas can defend the title he claimed 12 months ago against the established elite of Nadal and Djokovic.

“Dublin seems as imperious as ever, brushing aside rivals with apparent ease.”

While tennis may be a professional sport where Grand Slam tournament prize pots can reach such astronomical figures as 38 million euros, GAA, however, is one of the few amateur sports that is just as watchable. With the disruption of Covid-19, as with most sports, the hurling and football finals are taking place in December rather than the traditional September. This does not diminish the potential possibilities that could grasp the attention of sport fans this Winter. Dublin seems as imperious as ever, brushing aside rivals with apparent ease. Their supremacy seems to be unchallenged and their quest to a sixth Sam Maguire inevitable. Kerry beaters Cork may provide a bit of competition to an apparent procession to the title. In hurling it is much more uncertain, defending Champions Tipperary comprehensively beaten by Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, in mitigation it was their first game, and they could possibly soon regain their form that saw them triumph last year. These questions and many more are to be answered in an intriguing Championship that could brighten up this bleak winter.

We have always returned to sport in the hope of finding some sense of pleasure and joy. Whatever form it takes, be it F1 or tennis it has rarely failed to disappoint. None more so than in this Covid-19 environment has it been emphatically emphasised. The sports outlined here will hopefully supply those zealous sport enthusiasts with some satisfaction and happiness in the coming months.