Sports have had to adjust to new normals during Covid. Not esports. – NBC News

Sports have had to adjust to new normals during Covid. Not esports. – NBC News

When Nicole Walsh, 19, throws the discus or javelin for Illinois Wesleyan University’s track and field team, anxieties tug at her mind that she could be exposing herself to Covid-19.

But those worries dissipate when she plays for a different team at the school — the esports team.

“With throwing, I share implements. So I’m using the same shot that my teammate might use or the same javelin or discus, so with that it’s constantly in your mind that if one of us has it we are all kind of sharing these implements,” Walsh said of the coronavirus. “But with esports, it’s a little different.”

Over the last year, as traditional sports have struggled under the pandemic, esports have brought peace of mind to people like Walsh, who straddle both worlds.

Peirce “Gunless” Hillman and Dylan “Envoy” Hannon of the Chicago Huntsmen compete against the Los Angeles OpTic during day three of the Call of Duty League launch weekend at The Armory on Jan. 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

“It’s still a concern, but you can do it remotely and that’s one of the benefits,” said Walsh, a computer science major, adding that being able to compete remotely was a big reason “esports is coming up during a pandemic.”

While some physical contact sports have struggled to find ways to keep players safe nearly a year after the pandemic forced much of the United States into
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