For PBR (Professional Bull Riders) a return to competition during the Coronavirus pandemic was always a matter of when, not if.
So said PBR CEO Sean Gleason, who has announced on social media the cowboys of the PBR will be returning to competition in 8 days for a closed-to-fans, made-for-TV event airing on CBS Sports Network on April 25-26.
PBR will return in a safe and responsible way, following a detailed plan that’s been approved by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and is in line with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s guidance on closed sports events – those without any fans in the arena.
The sport will start up the season at one of its birthplaces, the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma a venue so expansive all riders and crew will be staying in their own RV – ensuring social distancing and preventing contact with anyone locally.
PBR has been on pause since leaving Duluth, GA on March 16 when governmental guidance prohibited any mass gatherings of 10 or more people.
Immediately after the shutdown, Gleason’s team went to work analyzing every part of the human aspect of the sport – from how riders and crew get from their homes to the arena to where they stay and eat to who they interact with every moment of the day. The resulting plan limiting all human interaction is akin to “PBR Unplugged.”
Check out Sean’s post:
PBR’s return is awesome news for not only bull riding fans, but every single sports fan growing a bit tired of myriad of highlights shows and sincere efforts at entertaining us with workout regimes, trivia games, videos shot from their kitchens, and interviews from their back yards.
ESPN may have HORSE but CBS will now have the real bulls.
Gleason points out PBR’s decision to return to competition was not made lightly or rashly.
His team has been working nonstop ever since leaving Georgia to figure out how to scale down a world-class entertainment production to an event that’s more competition and ride-focused, managed by a bones skeleton crew broken into functional workgroups (crew, riders, announcers, etc.) who don’t mix with each other or anyone else.
In fact, anyone allowed on the arena grounds, after passing a medical test, will wear a color-coded wrist band to identify their working group and ensure their they’re separated from other groups. Everyone has taken a pledge to self-isolate and not leave the Lazy E.
With a series of strict guidelines in place, the cowboys and stock contractors who are independent contractors not on salary can return to making a living.
Gleason’s announcement today is welcome news for the cowboys who look for 8-seconds – and a prize money payoff – each time they nod, the stock contractors who bring the bulls, and every fan who’s been dreaming of PBR’s return since the world hit the pause button.
Will it be different for the time being with no fans in attendance?
There’s no doubt about that. However, the last Unleash The Beast event was also fan-free and made-for-TV, and it showcased some amazing rides, and a different way to appreciate the sport. Viewers were treated with hearing riders on the back of the chutes cheering one another on along with hearing the grunts of the riders trying to tame the massive bucking beasts. This event should deliver the same.
This welcome event in Guthrie will be televised on CBS Sports Network and stream RidePass.
Rejoice, ye sports fans around the world! One major sport is coming back, and if you’ve never checked it out, now is the time.