Digital Cafe iSportconnect

The Return Of The Digital Cafe: Featuring Chelsea, Documentaries, Formula 1 and… Ian Botham?

May 19, 2020

Welcome back to the Digital Café which has re-opened – with adequate distancing measures in place – to take a regular look at what’s happening, what’s relevant and what’s entertaining in the digital and social world of sport.

Taking up the staying at home advantage

One of the chinks of light in this dark, unprecedented period for sport has been that technology, and especially digital and social media, is sufficiently developed to compensate – to some degree – for the lack of action. While this has been far from adequate for the business of sport, it has ensured a continuation of fan interaction.

Had Covid-19 hit in, say, 2010, we would have not had the opportunity, content or audience to continue engaging with. While sport now means anything from an esports version of football to commentating on dogs, there has at least been an interaction. Even better for fans, the athletes and drivers themselves having access to production and posting means we get a glimpse at how they’re training in lockdown while also taking part in online competition. The ePL invitational means soccer stars from the English league are representing while at home and the F1 esports racing is an extension of drivers’ usual PlayStation simulator sessions – with added banter.

The level of content which looks back, rewinds and re-screens past triumphs and tragedies has been excellent – from ITV in the UK re-showing football matches to Chelsea’s excellent tweet referencing the 2016 English Premier League…

What will be interesting will be to see how sport emerges post-Covid. Teams, and players, will have new expectations to fulfil and hopefully some of the invention forced on them by circumstance will extend to non-pandemic times.

This idea was neatly encapsulated by Lewis Wiltshire, consulting partner at Seven League who said in the short-term sport requires emotional intelligence as fans retain engagement with their favourite sport/team/athlete, but longer term it will be business intelligence which is required to assess digital and social content and address the requirements of. Fans when sport returns. (LINK:

Whatever the decision of sporting bodies to re-start leagues, re-play cancelled games or re-schedule tournaments, sport in 2020 will be remembered for what was not contested rather for how, as an industry, we maintained interest and entertainment, before taking stock, re-setting and progressing our digital and social engagement.

Playing At Home

One of the small bonuses has also been the time to watch some great sports documentaries. Even if you know the outcome of the 2019 Formula One championship the second series of Drive to Survive is great. Although it does become a little too self-reverential and one of the great things about season one was the bigger teams did not take part, allowing the likes of Haas to tell their stories.

Both seasons of Sunderland Til I Die though are equally insightful (and heart-breaking) while The Last Dance has, rightly, been tipped as possibly the best sports documentary ever made. Its subject matter (the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls) helped. If you get the chance, seek out The Year of the Scab  (LINK:  which ties in with The Last Dance and Last Chance U which gives not only some great back stories but also us Europeans an insight into how valuable college sports are in the US.

New Rules

There is of course, the resourcefulness of sports fanatics to keep us up to speed – whether it’s creating an F1 car at home (LINK: out of cardboard or the rightly ubiquitous commentary from the BBC’s Andrew Cotter (LINK:, which has been one of the lockdown season highlights.

One thing we didn’t know we needed however was this – demonstrating that while social in sport can be entertaining, sometimes you really need a quality filter for your ideas. From Bayer Crop Science, the question asked was: “What type of cricketer does your attitude to wheat disease control most closely resemble? Take our quiz for a chance to win some tickets to a future cricket match?” (LINK: Frankly this is one idea which should have remained on the brainstorming Post-It note it was born on. Although I was Ian Botham, so, you know… not all bad.

Staying Entertained 

If you listen to one thing…

Check out Sports Wars which goes behind the headlines of in/famous sporting rivalries which divide fans, punters and sports. LINK:

If you watch one thing…

While we all have to wait another 12 months to compete or watch the competitors in Tokyo, check out the official Olympic YouTube channel which has a massive library of action, compilations and behind-the-scenes videos. Bonus – it’s updated daily. LINK:

If you follow one account…

The real-life football manager may have run things at Leicester, Liverpool and Celtic with a certain idiocyncratic eloquence, but the parody Twitter account Deluded Brendan takes things to new heights. Especially relevant if you want to see former Foxes striker Dion Dublin saying “stairs going up to the bedrooms” for two minutes on Homes Under The Hammer/ LINK:

The Digital Cafe is provided by David Granger, former Global Head of Editorial Content at Red Bull Media House and current Head of Social Content Programming at Phillip Morris International.

Digital Cafe iSportconnect