During the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Championship Sunday inside Infinite Energy Center, there was an eerie feeling as the event was taking place in an empty arena.
The clanging of chute gates slamming shut, the stomping of boots of cowboys coming down off the chutes, and the shouts of encouragement of riders for this extraordinary courageous band of bothers were heard clear on the CBS Sports Network broadcast.
Flint Rasmussen was not on the dirt making us laugh. You couldn’t hear the crowd roar, because there was not a single fan in the arena.
In light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, local officials in Georgia had prohibited mass public gatherings. But PBR worked to find a way to proceed with the event and deliver bull riding to fans. CBS joined by offering to telecast the entire event over the weekend, creating live windows on both Saturday and Sunday.
Using this as a backdrop and seeking to ensure the safety of everyone involved, during a break in the action, Sean Gleason, CEO of the PBR announced with CBS sideline reporter Kate Harrison that the PBR season would go on…without fans with closed events at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, Colorado not far from where the sports league calls home.
Check out the announcement below:
The riders who compete on the elite series of bull riding, folks, are not benefitting from multi-million dollar contracts or endorsement deals that allow them to collect money if they don’t compete.
No, in this sport the riders have to get on bulls, compete and earn every dollar. If these events were postponed or outright canceled then the riders, as well as the bull stock contractors, are out of the chance to feed their families…and improve their world standings.
Yes, it may look different and feel different to watch a bull riding without the fans in the stands. But, I kind of like hearing riders screaming encouragement for one another. And if the results from this week’s Gwinnett Invitational were any indication of how the future events will unfold…then it is just as exciting.
PBR’s closed events are like watching the world’s greatest practice pen with Craig Hummer and J.W. Hart along for the commentary.
“There’s no fans. There’s no crowd roaring. But you can hear the guys in the back of the chute cheering for each other,” Hart said on the broadcast. “This is an exciting sport. It doesn’t matter if there are fans in the stands or not.”
At a time when America needs a respite, PBR will plan to continue to bring fans events on CBS Sports Network. The next broadcasts are live from Pueblo on CBSSN Saturday, March, 21 at 9 p.m. ET and Sunday March 22 at 2 p.m. ET.
Thank you, Sean Gleason, PBR staff, arena/production crew, RidePass staff and CBS Sports Network for ensuring that there will be at least one sport live throughout March!