Would be Derby Day
For the first time since 1945, it is the first Saturday in May without a Kentucky Derby. We've discussed the lack of sporting events at length here on the site recently, but news this week is about some sporting events returning. We already know that the Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September. It would be wonderful for there to be fans, but we're still a long way from determining that. The new developments are that Churchill Downs has announced a reopening date. The track will open for racing on May 16th, closed to the public of course. If there is any industry that can handle opening without fans, it would have to be horse racing. The amount of money Churchill Downs can make by being completely open is surely more than they make by being partially opened, but with the increase in online gambling, the amount of money lost by not racing at all is significant.
All that is to say that opening Churchill Downs does not give us a lot of insight into what the future for sports looks like. Plenty of international leagues have already decided to cancel the remainder of their seasons. Other sporting industries can't benefit directly from gambling so opening without fans is not quite as profitable.
On the flip side of that, another league announced it's return this week as well. After news that Charlotte, North Carolina had opened up the path for NASCAR's Charlotte race to occur, the series took advantage. Using similar setups in Darlington, NASCAR announced the return to the track on two race weekends. Starting May 17th, there will be 7 races over the next ten days, with four of those being Cup Series races. Both sites, Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, will be closed to fans, but NASCAR will take all of the television and advertising revenue they can get.
This is the one that is more interesting to the future prospect of college and professional sports. Sure, NASCAR has a greater advertising potential with all of the car and team sponsors, but utilizing just advertising and television revenue is something that professional leagues and high revenue college sports can work with. There is still the issue with sorting out how to play contact sports in the age of a pandemic, if it can be done at all, but this opens the door to seeing just how much people have missed live sporting events.
Unfortunately, this gives us no information on the low/non-revenue sports on college campuses. The sports that aren't bringing in lucrative TV deals will struggle to balance opening with no concessions and no ticket sales while traveling halfway across the country. That's not even to mention the issues we may have with travel in the fall.
Long story short, we know a little bit more today than we did last week about how things may look going forward, but we're far from having a clear picture. We'll stick with our mantra of taking one day at a time.
Speaking of the Derby, by the way, there is a Derby tradition that couldn't be set aside quite so easily. The band playing "My Old Kentucky Home" is something we always look forward to, and anyone who has been to a Derby Party with Paulie has heard him belt it loudly and proudly. Someone came up with a creative way to scratch that itch this year, with a virtual band playing the tune. Our own Jared Anderson was a part of it, so tune into the video here to see the magic.
It'll be a full virtual house again today, as the normal Derby rigors that used to keep us out of the studio are obviously not an issue this year. Tune in to the Cardinal Couple YouTube at 11AM as we bring you the joy and excitement of UofL women's athletics as best we can.
Until next time, Go Cards!