Culture Clips: Putting the Olympic Flame on Hold

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Everyone knows that the sports world has screeched to a halt for now because of the coronavirus. Professional basketball and hockey seasons have been suspended. Baseball’s Spring Training is on hold. Golfers are stuck at home, polishing their five-irons. ESPN has no idea what to do with all of its airtime. It’s gotten so bad that, as Emily Clark reported yesterday, more than 500,000 people tuned in online to watch a virtual car race.

But now, another shoe has dropped: The Olympic Games themselves will be postponed until 2021.

It’s not a surprise, perhaps: Many athletes were unable to train and a handful of countries, including Canada and Australia, announced that if the Games did go on as scheduled, they’d not be attending. And it’s hardly the first time that the Olympics has experienced a hiccup in its planned festivities. The Games weren’t held during World War II, and plenty of countries have skipped them over time. (Germany was actually dis-invited in 1920.)

Still, it’s another sign that normalcy isn’t just around the bend for any of us.

Social media has been a source to share both anxiety and information for many. Take TikTok, for instance. One young woman made a tearful plea on the platform for hoarders to stop hoarding diapers—because, like, she and other moms could sure use some, too. But teens and young adults are turning to TikTok to talk with other youth and, thus, ease their anxiety regarding the virus—sometimes interspersing information with little dances. “When you think about how you want this message to get across, you have to use a method that [young people] can understand, so that’s why I started learning all these random TikTok dances,” 23-year-old Miki Rai told MTV News.

Meanwhile, Facebook is struggling in some instances to talk about the coronavirus. Seems that its anti-spam system is blocking some links to news stories related to the virus.

But other parts of Facebook are working just fine. People are turning to its chat capabilities, and other video chat platforms, in record numbers, too—with broadcasters sharing their lives with viewers, so that no-one need to feel quite so alone. Social video games are turning into another popular way to ease stress levels and wile away some extra time. In fact, as other sectors of the entertainment industry struggle, gaming is surging. Online videogame usage is up 75%, in fact, according to a new report from Verizon.

All that online usage, though, is taking a toll on the Internet itself. And one of the biggest bandwidth sappers is, of course, content streaming sites like Netflix. In fact, Netflix has started slowing down its streaming speeds in Europe to ease the strain. Some say it’s a sign of things to come for the United States, too. (In other Netflix news, the service announced the establishment of a $100 million virus relief fund for workers in the television and movie industries.)

Some believe the virus’ impact on the entertainment industry will go well beyond slower internet speeds, though. Jason Blum, founder of the horror movie production company Blumhouse, believes that our viewing habits will forever change. As reported in Uproxx, he said:

I think it’s not realistic to think all the studios are going to wait four months before they put a movie at home. They just can’t compete, they’re going to have to compete with Amazon and Netflix and Apple in a different way. There’s going to be shifts. The consumer is going to be more used to staying at home. Something is going to give, there has to be something that’s going to happen post-corona. The movie business will look different after the coronavirus.

We’d love to talk about something else that doesn’t have to do with the coronavirus, but … well, there’s precious little that qualifies. We can tell you that, thanks to the virus, author George R.R. Martin may finally finish his Song of Fire and Ice fantasy series (upon which HBO’s Game of Thrones was based). Because, really, what else is he going to do to keep himself busy these days? And for those who’re just dying to get out of the house and take a vacation, USA Today offered some tips on how to see some of America’s most beautiful national parks, all without leaving your chair.

But in sticking with our sports theme right now, let’s take a look at what famous play-by-play announcer Joe Buck is doing with his time. Without any games to call or sports to talk about, he’s now asking his Twitter followers to send him videos that he can call. Here’s an example.

So it’s not the Olympics. But for now, it’ll have to do.