March 8th, 2020
It was just a normal day like any other. Myself and two of my colleagues were at Phoenix Raceway covering NASCAR for the weekend. While COVID-19 was in the United States, no one thought anything of it as tens of thousands of fans filled the grandstands and infield during the three-day race weekend.
It was a fun Sunday of sports as the Cup Series put on a phenomenal race, and the Clippers and Lakers put on another thrilling battle. Once the race concluded, I snapped a photo of the crowd exiting and the sold-out camping grounds to show that NASCAR isn’t a dead sport; not knowing that just 72 hours later, this would be one of the final large congregations of people at a sporting event for the foreseeable future.
Walking out of the media center that evening, I didn’t have second thoughts about not being back at this track for championship weekend. All eyes were to be set on Avondale, Arizona in November for the championship races of all three premier series in NASCAR. Now, that’s up in the air with social distancing orders, and most states being practically closed down.
The photo that is featured with this piece was something I wanted to do to commemorate and appreciate the opportunity of covering sports in-person.
Today, the photo symbolizes the end of normalcy in sports. Let’s be honest here, we probably won’t see sports back to full capacity until 2021. The Phoenix Cup Series race will go down as the last normal live sporting event. As angry as it may make people, we are not going to see sold-out crowds for the rest of the year because there is no cure or vaccine for the virus. No sporting event that continues to go on this year, except for motorsports, will feel the same, and potential NBA, NHL, and MLB champions in 2020 will be placed with an asterisk across their name due to all the variables being eliminated that come with playoffs.
It’s a sad time. As someone whose main focus is on sports, I have had very little to do in the last two months. It makes life feel meaningless without sports. We’ve all thought about the horrific scenario of “What would life look like without sports?” Well, here it is today, and it is as awful as one could imagine.
While the Michael Jordan documentary and the NFL Draft have given us something, it’s not the same as having a game on every day. No NBA Playoffs. No Stanley Cup Playoffs. No MLB games. No NASCAR race weekends. No UFC events.
The two-month hiatus without live sports will end on May 9th with the UFC 249 pay-per-view, but without the roaring crowds that come with it, is it really going to have the same vibe to it? I love sports to death, but if these leagues go on without fans, it’s going to be boring and unwatchable.
Hopefully, once this virus passes over, and we get back to the normal routine of life, I hope everyone has a greater appreciation for what we have lost.
Life will go on and sports will come back to normal, but for now, March 8th, 2020 will be remembered as the last normal weekend day in sports.