As we fast approach the end of the year we should all allow ourselves to look forward to crawling out of the dark cloud of Covid-19 and into 2021, the greatest year of sport ever.
Euro 2020, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Twenty20 cricket World Cups, the Women’s Euros, a Ryder Cup, a Rugby League World Cup, a Lions Tour and an Ashes series; next year is set to be an incredible one for sports fans.
Both as a spectator and a participant, sport this year has become unrecognisable.
I know it’s hard to look forward to anything at the moment. In fact, it almost feels reckless, especially as we’ve been here before.
It was predicted that fans would be back in Premier League stadiums before December and ‘normality’ would return by Christmas.
We are by no means out of the woods yet. But it feels like we are slowly learning to live with Covid-19. It’s OK to dream that by May we’ll be set for six months packed full of sport, nine major events.
The return of crowds
Governments and governing bodies around the world will be doing all they can to ensure these take place.
Headlines are rarely dominated by positive news but as we approach 2021 I think we should all start to look forward to next year and an unprecedented dose of what we’ve been missing.
The science suggests that by July next year we will be socialising again, hopefully all with better hygiene habits and a degree of social distancing.
My guess is that all the events above, apart from maybe the Euros, will be attended by crowds. Probably not at capacity but enough to create atmospheres and a noticeable buzz in the host cities.
Sport brings people together, it gives us hope and, most importantly, it establishes relationships and strengthens communities. It crosses divides and unites.
Greatest year of sport can recreate spirit of summer 2018
After what will be 18 months of being told to stay away from one another, I expect the bunting to be out like never before for the Euros, Women’s Euros and Rugby League World Cup.
With collaboration between government, rights holders, broadcasters and the hospitality sector, we can recreate the magical spirit of summer 2018.
Not only will fans be able to unleash pent-up frustrations. Sponsors will be let off the leash from the past year’s restrictions brought about by the limited movement of people.
We will hopefully see fresh ideas and therefore activations in stadiums, fan parks, pubs and social feeds.
Both those attending events and those watching at home or in pubs will hopefully do so with gratitude and perspective.
What this year has shown us all, among lots of other things, is how important sport is in our daily lives.
I sit writing this under a print of LS Lowry’s famous painting, Going To The Match.
Painted in 1928, it shows the football stadium at the heart of the community. The sooner we can get back to this, the better for everyone.
Simon Dent is founder of creative agency Dark Horses.