Planning, guidelines get PBR back in the saddle
The professional bull riders circuit resumed in late April at a 300-acre ranch north of Oklahoma City, with a travel party of about 140 riders, stock workers and support staff, all tested for COVID-19 upon entry and exit.
Divided into small working groups and bunking in RVs, they committed to remain socially distanced for their entire stay.
Even the cowboys wore masks.
The return was complicated and, of course, did not include spectators. But the April 25-26 event did get the PBR back on the airwaves, on CBS Sports Network.
It also conveyed a message: The PBR is open for business, with events planned for the Oklahoma ranch on each of the next two weekends.
“What’s frustrating me right now having gone through all of this, there are a lot of businesses and industries right now that can get back to work by putting the time, effort and energy into a safe and responsible plan to do it,” said PBR CEO Sean Gleason, who described 41 days of planning that evolved as restrictions and guidelines changed at a varied pace across the country. “I feel like it’s every American’s obligation to start figuring out those things as opposed to sitting around and waiting for this broad governance that is not one size fits all for every place in America.”
Some keys to the PBR’s return: A “bubble” that allowed the organization to monitor and control those within it, a re-examination of event procedures to identify the minimum number of people needed, working groups of six or less that limited the risk of spread if someone were infected, and testing both before and after the event.
“I’ve shared our plan willingly with anybody who has asked,” said Gleason, who said he’d been in contact with about a dozen other leagues and properties. “My message to them is get in there, get your [medical] professionals around you … and get those people working on your behalf to help you understand the circumstances and help you create a safe environment to get back to work.
“There are a lot of people that are sitting around waiting for somebody to tell them how to fix the problems. And I just don’t see that coming. You gotta get in. You gotta understand this challenge that we’re facing. And you gotta go out and do the work to understand your particular business and how you can apply the guidance and safety procedures to get your people back to work.”