Return to Action
NASCAR, Bundesliga resume this weekend
It’s been just two months since the NBA abruptly postponed its season after players tested positive for COVID-19 and leagues around the world followed their lead, but it seems like eons ago that a live game was played.
Sure, the NFL has provided entertainment with its Draft and free agency signings, but that hasn’t completely satiated the desire for actual competition to resume.
That will change this weekend as NASCAR and the German Bundesliga return to action.
America’s favorite auto racing circuit will run a 400-mile event at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Sunday (FOX, 2:30 p.m.). While the on-track action will look familiar, things will be vastly different off of the track. The biggest difference will be a lack of fans in the stands. But teams will have to deal with other precautions to ensure safety. NASCAR is limiting team rosters to 16, including the driver. Each person on the track will be required to wear a cloth facemask and subject to health screenings and temperature checks. Additionally, all participants will have to keep a log of who they’ve interacted with throughout the course of a day in case they later have a positive test.
To make up for the 10 races the circuit had to postpone, NASCAR will run a compacted schedule through late June. They’ll race again at Darlington on Wednesday, then race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24 and 27, Bristol (Tenn.) on May 31, Atlanta on June 7, Martinsville on June 10, Homestead-Miami on the 14th, and Talladega on June 21.
The remainder of the schedule is in flex, however, NASCAR is developing a plan to run the remaining 32 scheduled races in the next 25 weeks, finishing the season Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway as scheduled.
While NASCAR’s return will be welcomed, eyes around the world will be focused on Germany as the Bundesliga becomes the first major European soccer league to resume. While matches will be played without spectators, leagues and teams worldwide will keep an eye on how players, coaches, and officials are affected by close, sustained physical contact. The league has enacted protocols to clean equipment and locker rooms and is enforcing protective measures to try to ensure safety.
While there is no guarantee that either league can ensure the virus will not impact their season, the great hope is that if NASCAR and the Bundesliga can safely return to play, they will provide a roadmap for other sports to return to action as soon as possible.
With so much rising political distention in our nation, the need for sports as a unifying entertainment outlet is sorely needed. I’ll be looking forward to soccer kickoffs and the waving of the green flag this weekend. Hopefully it will mean COVID-19 is that much closer to seeing the checkered flag, and sports, as we know them, will be in play that much sooner.