Oklahoma was the epicenter of live sports shutting down from the coronavirus pandemic. It was in that state where Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, and the game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder was stopped moments before tip-off, thus setting off a domino effect that has largely shuttered the industry.
It is also in Oklahoma where one of the first pro-level live competitions has returned, in the form of a Professional Bull Riders event this past weekend.
Bulls On Parade: The PBR hosted an event at the Lazy E Arena and Ranch in Guthrie, Oklahoma, which is roughly 32 miles from Oklahoma City.
The two-day event was closed to the public, and required all those involved to be screened and medically cleared to enter the grounds. All participants stayed in RVs and remained on-site throughout.
There were roughly 140 people between medical staff, livestock contractors, TV crew members, and PBR staff and riders. However, with the Lazy E ranch consisting of several hundred acres, it gave each person roughly two acres of living space. PBR also established ten or less-person working groups so that if anyone becomes sick, the spread would be minimized.
All participants had to drive to Guthrie to take part. Eight bull riders scheduled to participate had to replaced because they were from states on Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s travel restriction list.
Made For TV: The PBR aired its competition on CBS Sports Network, with Saturday’s portion being tape-delayed while Sunday was broadcast live.
To broadcast the event, PBR increased the use of robotic cameras and moved judges and announcers away from the action.
The PBR’s last event was held on Mach 14 and 15 in Duluth, Georgia. It canceled events in three cities due to the coronavirus shutdown. While the organization has said it is looking to hold the remainder of the second half of its season as planned, it has not ruled out holding additional events at Lazy E Arena under similar conditions.