Nearly every single social network on the internet is attempting to come up with its own solutions for keeping quarantined people busy... and engaged with their services. Virtual dates and orgies are on the rise, people are chugging wine and chomping down on cheese with their friends over video-conferencing software (and learning about the privacy nightmares in the process), and now people can watch tennis superstars and celebrities compete with each other on Facebook, Engadget reports.
The initiative is part of the social network's "Stay at Home Slam" tournament it's hosting using Nintendo's Mario Tennis Aces game. The difference between this and an actual tennis match? You'll see both sports and entertainment icons playing in the form of Peach, Mario, Luigi, and other characters from Nintendo's latest rendition of its smash (sorry) tennis videogame.
How it works — Facebook's virtual tennis matches are not just about entertainment and virtual sports, they're also centered on rallying (sorry) some relief for COVID-19 efforts as well as other causes. Teams will be made up of one tennis star and one celebrity. Each team receives $25,000 and decides which charity they will donate the amount to, while the winning team receives $1 million for their chosen cause.
Superstars from sports and entertainment — So far, according to Engadget, models like Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and celebrities like Hailey Bieber have signed up to play alongside legends of the court like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Naomi Osaka.
Other names who've committed include DeAndre Hopkins, Kei Nishikori, Steve Aoki, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Seal, Ryan Tannehill, Taylor Fritz, Addison Rae, and Kevin Anderson. The commentary will come from John McEnroe (who's the least family-friendly person they could possibly have gotten for the job) and Justine (Justine Ezarik) of YouTube fame. If you're interested, you can watch the games unfold on Facebook Gaming and IMG Tennis.
Virtual sports undergo the COVID-19 treatment — Sports, much like the rest of the world, has had to adapt to the coronavirus landscape. Given public health officials have strongly discouraged large gatherings, it's impossible to attend any kind of game right now, whether as a participant or a spectator. But that hasn't stopped traditional and esports franchises alike from coming up with some compelling solutions.
Facebook's virtual tennis match isn't the first charitable sporting event to be held digitally since everyone (who can) started staying home. England's Premier League has already announced an ePremier League Invitational where those who win get both the bragging rites that come with the virtual championship title and the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from donating their winnings to the U.K.'s National Health Service. Expect to see plenty more fundraising sporting events before the crisis is out. How many of them will involve Mario and Luigi, though, is anyone's guess.