It’s 2016, I’m under 25 years old, and I have access to a high speed internet connection. Owning a television will soon become a thing of the past for my generation, as illegal internet streams of sporting events are becoming more commonplace in the average Western household. Yes, the quality of some broadcasts may be spotty, but for those such as myself who care more about the outcome of the game rather than being able to see each individual blade of grass on the field, heading to a website such as FirstRow for my NHL playoff hockey fix is a routine part of my evening – as it is for many others. This is how I receive my NASCAR, IndyCar, and NHRA coverage as well; I’ll gladly take a reduction in visual quality if it means I can continue shitposting on PRC.net, with the stream playing in the background.
FirstRow is not the only website that offers flash-based streams of major league sporting events; domains such as CricFree, RaceFansOnly, Blabseal, and ATDHE allow anyone with access to cable and Firefox ad-block plugins installed to enjoy a vast array of out-of-market game without the expensive bill of NHL Game Center Live or NFL Sunday Ticket. Yes, we’re more or less admitting we’re bad little boys when it comes to watching TV, but for the sake of this story, we have to introduce this concept to our readers: There are websites that offer links to watch live sports online, completely free of charge.
And they’re usually reserved for just sports.
Now a couple of days ago, we ran an article mocking certain “professional” iRacing teams for taking sim racing a little too seriously. I understand that the highest level of sim racing competition comes with legitimate sponsorship opportunities and a substantial amount of money being thrown around for what’s essentially playing a video game, but the guys over at Slip Angle Motorsports had taken things a step further in a very strange direction: sim racers Ray Alfalla and Byron Daley were literally printing out hero cards as if they were real drivers, autographing them, and putting them up for auction on eBay. Yes, the resident geek boys were going to this extent.
By some act of god, the two subjects above have been combined. On a page typically reserved for Formula One, IndyCar, the NHRA, MotoGP, V8 Supercars, Le Mans, NASCAR, and the Blancpain Endurance Series, was a link to a random iRacing broadcast; a private league that only mattered to the 40 or so individuals participating within it.
iRacers are now at the point where they actually are listing their online NASCAR sessions on a website typically reserved for real world auto racing. This is the same place where I came to watch events such as… oh, I don’t know… the Daytona 500 and goddamn Super Bowl. Tonight, the Domino’s TYJ Dented Fenders Truck Series Atlanta 160 takes center stage.
There are more trucks on the track than audience members watching the coverage, which begs the question if I should start live streaming the community soccer league games in front of my house and throwing the feed up on FirstRow as well: apparently some kids in a private iRacing league classifies as NASCAR, so Tim Horton’s minor hockey should in theory count as the NHL, right?
Maybe I’m just a sour piece of shit, and maybe it’s a slow news day, but we went from joking about certain iRacers believing there are NASCAR scouts spectating their races, to iRacers literally signing autographs of in-game screenshots and throwing their shitty races nobody cares about up on FirstRow alongside the fucking NHL playoffs. At what point do these guys realize this is all really weird, and only makes a mockery of the entire scene? I ain’t saying to not be proud of your involvement in the sim racing community – it’s not like you’re spending the evening drawing anthropomorphic dogs fucking each other – but there’s a reason y’all don’t see the avid Flight Simulator X folk dressed as pilots at your local airport: you’re playing a video game.