An ageless game that’s been played for decades has finally made its way to the national scene. The National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and ESPN have all collaborated to bring a nationally televised game of “HORSE” to people across the country.
The game includes 8 NBA and WNBA players (past and present) – with big names such as Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, and Chicago Skys’ Allie Quigley – taking part in an 8-person tournament. At the time of this writing, Trae Young defeated former Detroit Pistons great Chauncey Billups to move on to the semi-finals, followed by LaVine, Quigley, and Mike Conley (who defeated Tamika Catchings ‘HORSE’ to nothing).
For some, this event offers viewers something a little different. If you love sports and basketball as much as I do, some of your earliest memories are playing a simple game of HORSE with our friends. This game offers a unique experience of seeing professional athletes – and in many cases, our role models – connecting with their fans on a level that is rarely seen. This could be seen as a way to ease fans’ pain as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the world around us. However, it seems as though this pro-level game of HORSE is not entertaining the fans as much as we may have all anticipated.
After interviewing individuals who watched the first round of this tournament, the responses were a little bit underwhelming. When asked, “Do you believe this event is helpful to those who are missing sports right now?” the majority of responses were not so encouraging. Some would say that they believe the game should have been played in person, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends halting gatherings of 10 or more people and that social distancing could still be honored, so the game would still be able to take place, rather than having to video chat to do it. Others stated that it’s a weak attempt at ESPN to make money. Overall, the responses were not very inspiring.
One thing that individuals did say they thought was helping out was the NBA 2k20 video game tournament. This tournament consisted of 16 NBA players – with names such as Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Andre Drummond – battling it out on the virtual court to see who could win it all. When I interviewed those who watched the tournament if they believe the tournament was helping those who were missing sports, the responses were more positive. Some stated that it gave people something to look forward to that was easily relatable and people could connect to. Others mentioned that it also helps the NBA players compete and still play the game they love, only this time virtually.
In this day and age, there is not a whole lot that is entertaining the masses. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world and has put everything on hold. We are all huddled inside our houses, only leaving for the most essential commodities. We’ve reverted back to days where board games and cards are a primary means of entertainment and where simply sitting outside and enjoying the day has become a staple of everyday living. It almost feels nice, the world being so simple again. Of course, we cannot forget those who have been affected by this terrible virus. However, if we are to be quarantined for however much longer, why not do the most to enjoy those days?
Events such as ESPN’s ‘HORSE’ tournament and 2k tournament are merely a means of adding normalcy to this crazy world we live in today. Whether it’s actually helping or not is a matter of opinion. I believe they are helping people because it instills a normalcy that many of us had forgotten existed a while ago. We no longer live during a time where we can simply switch on the TV and watch our favorite sports teams. We no longer live during a time where going out to a wing joint and watching the latest NBA game or NFL game is a common activity. We’re not able to do many of the things we would like to do. These are hectic and bizarre times, indeed, but I think tournaments like the ‘HORSE’ and 2k tournaments could help in adding a touch of normalcy back to our lives.
Colton Fox is a student at Shawnee State University majoring in Sports Journalism and loves everything sports related.