Packed stadium seats surrounding the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field. People running on the track. Booths from event sponsors like the United States Marine Corps.
It may look like the typical Penn Relays, but really it’s a virtual Minecraft rendition keeping the Philadelphia tradition alive on its 126th anniversary.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Penn Relays are going digital with a livestream featuring gaming content running 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. this Friday on the platform Twitch. The popular sporting event is the oldest, largest track and field competition in the U.S. Upwards of 110,000 people attend, with many coming from between New York and Washington, D.C.
To bring the Digital Penn Relays to life, the university is partnering with Gen.G, a global esports organization with headquarters in Los Angeles and Seoul. The groups had already worked for months to bring a gaming demo and esports activation to the relays when the pandemic forced them to switch gears. The event is frequented by high school and college students, also a prime market for the growing esports industry.