Voice of Real Australia: No, not ALL sport is off

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Warrnambool Standard deputy editor Rachael Houlihan.

Game on: Warrnambool online gamer Billy Thomson wearing his PC419 team jersey. He wears the jersey to LAN (gaming) events. Picture: Anthony Brady

Game on: Warrnambool online gamer Billy Thomson wearing his PC419 team jersey. He wears the jersey to LAN (gaming) events. Picture: Anthony Brady

One of Australia's most beloved past times is getting together with a bunch of mates and sharing a bit of banter over sporting match.

Whether you're a die-hard cricket, NRL or footy fan it doesn't matter. We're all united by the love of a good game.

Watching and playing sport is part of our national fabric - it's a part of who we are and our identity.

I don't want to mention the new "C word" (as you know, that's not allowed around these parts), but we do know that bugger has caused all sorts of sporting contests to cease or be postponed.

AFL is suspended, the NBL season is cancelled and while the NRL dug its heels in for awhile, it's finally made a call to suspend its season, too.

Across regional Australia sporting leagues have also been nixed. This year country matches won't make it out of the barrier.

Hockey, soccer, netball, footy, rugby - no matter the code, leagues around the nation have cancelled seasons, many without even kicking off round one.

These tough times mean we can't currently indulge in our guilty pleasure - but there is an alternative.

It's a great debate if it's actually a sport, but those who "play" give it a big tick.

The rise of online gaming, or Esports, has seen many Aussies excelling on the big stage - or is that computer screen?

Just ask Billy Thomson, an online gamer who played division one of the international Mountain Dew League in 2019.

Yes, that's a thing.

The Dew league is an online gaming league which has distributed over $500,000 to players. Not a bad pay day if you're handy with a keyboard and a headset.

Billy's team is called PC419 and its made up of players from around Australia. They finished fourth in the Mountain Dew League after a three-month season.

Just like professional sporting codes, PC419 train hard - last season it was five days a week for four-and-a-half hours each day.

Training involves watching demos - or video game clippings - of an opposition to analyse its gameplay.

"To be one of the best in Australia, you have to put thousands of hours into it," Billy says.

Sure, it's something different, but if you're missing out on your regular sporting matches you might be keen to give it a try.

Billy believes athletes from other postponed sports will get behind online gaming: "It's the way of the future," he says.

And just like televised sport, advertisers are jumping on board, too.

In these uncertain times its a safe way to social distance yourself but still engage with one another.

To the computer desk!

Rachael Houlihan

Deputy editor, Warrnambool Standard

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