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Professional Driver Hired Pro Gamer To Compete Online For Him


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Formula E driver Daniel Abt is in big trouble after hiring a pro gamer to race for him in an official online event. In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, many pastimes have effectively been put on hold, especially in the realm of pop culture and entertainment. Hollywood has been basically shut down by the pandemic, with numerous big-budget productions postponed indefinitely while completed movies are being delayed out of their current summer release windows. The moratorium extends to sports, with the 2020 MLB and NBA seasons cancelled until further notice.

Even racing has been affected by Covid-19, with NASCAR events cancelled in the United States, replaced with eSports facsimiles that see professional racecar drivers competing via the iRacing simulator. It's not a perfect solution, and there has already been an unfortunate controversy involving racer Kyle Larson. Nevertheless, virtual racing offers a safe alternative for sports fans to get their competitive fix during these difficult times.

Overseas, Formula E has its own online virtual racing series, and the first huge controversy of the season has already emerged. As reported by the BBC, racer Daniel Abt is under fire for hiring a pro gamer to race for him in official Formula E Race at Home Challenge series. The driver hired Lorenz Horzing to compete in his stead, ostensibly as a prank to his fellow drivers. To his credit, Horzing finished in third place during his final race before the deceit was discovered. Subsequently, Abt was disqualified from the series and ordered to make a donation to charity as punishment for his violation.

For his part, the pro racer apologized while admitting he didn't take the virtual competition seriously. eSports have faced a long road to legitimacy, with many old-school pundits and observers refusing to acknowledge computer gamers as athletes, and Abt's ill-advised stunt doesn't help. In this case, it appears the athlete himself couldn't bring himself to acknowledge eSports as worth his attention and hired a surrogate to compete in his stead.

Abt's infraction is akin to plagiarism, of passing off someone's work as one's own, and he was caught and punished for his misdeed. If he didn't want to race via a computer game, he should have spoken to his team and the Formula E bosses and expressed his disinterest in virtual competition. Presumably, they would have allowed someone else to take his place or otherwise allowed him to abstain from the virtual race. Instead, he undermined the integrity of the sport by breaking the rules, earning money for a job he couldn't be bothered to perform himself. Now that he's been reprimanded, hopefully, he will understand that eSports, despite being played on computers instead of a real motor vehicle, is still legitimate competition worth taking seriously. If driving a car in circles for hours or throwing a ball in a hoop or fighting while wearing ice skates can qualify as serious competition, so can computer simulation.


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