We’re now up to 64 lost and lonely days.
We have been staying inside, keeping six feet away, wondering about our uncertain futures, thinking maybe life has been upended forever, that we need to re-skill or retire or stand on our heads or grow bushy sideburns or take up sewing or go for a drive somewhere, anywhere, just to get out of our houses.
We’ve been getting bummed out not seeing any live sports on TV. A world without sports is like a world without oxygen.
For these 64 days in social isolation, people everywhere, even casual or fleeting sports fans, have been yearning to watch a live sporting event.
We will finally get that chance this Sunday, May 17th, when NASCAR holds a live race at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
The race will be the first NASCAR race in 69 days and one of the first live sporting events anywhere in the world since the pandemic shocked and halted virtually all world activity in early March.
Expect people from all walks of life to tune in to watch this race. Everybody, everywhere, all over the place, ubiquitously. If this first live event was live badminton or curling or the Nordic Combined, hundreds of millions of people would tune in.
Even though NASCAR races are dudes driving around in circles, people will still want the rush they get watching a sport happen. They’re ready for anything instead of the 24/7 parade of historical sports documentaries from yesteryears that have cluttered the sports airways throughout this crisis.
Of course, all avid NASCAR fans will be watching Sunday. But count on fans who have never seen a NASCAR race and don’t particularly like the sport, or any sports, to tune in. Boredom makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do. They need something, anything, to pass the time, to give their lives meaning and make them feel whole.
“You know people are desperate for sports if they’re willing to watch a NASCAR race,” said Wally Jimmie, an executive vice president with NASCAR. “But we’ll take the fans any way we can get them, even those who probably will never watch another NASCAR race once the other sports come back.”
Fans will be tuning in from every imaginable walk of life. Here are just a few such fans among an infinite list of examples:
- every member of the United States Department of Agriculture;
- all members of the religious clergy including Benedictine Monks;
- every person on the African continent;
- 89 percent of Alaskans;
- all Hollywood film producers;
- the entire membership of The Boys Clubs of America;
- every barbershop quartet in the Northern Hemisphere;
- all plumbers from Eastern Europe;
- retail and commercial real estate salespeople;
- the cast and stagehands of “Mean Girls”;
- all members of the Montana Chamber of Commerce;
- everyone who has ever participated on a high school debate team;
- the entire cast of “Shrek”;
- every member of the band “10,000 Maniacs”;
- all present and former National Hockey League players plus all Canadians between the ages of six and 66;
- the Gold medal winners in the 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics ping pong competition;
- all owners and patrons of 7-Elevens, QuickChek, Hardees, and liquor stores on all seven continents;
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation workforce;
- Ralph Jerry Garcia;
- Jon Bon Jovi and all rock stars from the 1980s and 90s;
- the Russian Politburo;
- all current and former employees of the Natural Museum of History; and
- all nursery school students everywhere.
“The people tuning into the Darlington race will be from all walks of life, from every age demographic, from every religion, from every town, and from every far-off place you can think of plus those you’ve never even fathomed that actually exist,” added Jimmie. “The TV broadcast is likely to draw more viewers than the total number of fans who have ever watched sports on TV since 1958.”
This translates to approximately 898 trillion viewers of one NASCAR race on Sunday. Advertisers are excited about all the eyeballs they will attract. But they’re concerned that Fox Sports is charging $898 trillion for a 30-second ad during the broadcast.
“We could pay $898 billion for a 30-second ad,” said the VP of advertising with Amazon. “We have that money because we’ve been the only company in the world making serious bank during the pandemic.
“But we need to see how well the NASCAR demographic fits with our strategy. For instance, we are highly skeptical that the barbershop quartet group would fork over any bucks for Amazon products and services.”
Fox Sports executive Andy Advertising said he’s excited so many people will be watching, though he is a bit concerned that advertisers may not reach their target buyers because of the eclectic group of viewers.
“I don’t see how the Boy Scouts of America and Benedictine Monks will resonate with an Amazon ad, but we’ll take their money if they’re foolish enough to pay for the spot.”
NASCAR appreciates that Saturday’s gigantic TV audience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to broaden fan interest before other sports such as major league baseball take fans away from them.
“There will never be more people watching a NASCAR race than will be on Saturday,” Advertising added. “It’s our time in the limelight and we’re going to make sure fans are not bored watching cars ride around in circles.
“We’ll be throwing confetti around, crashing air balloons in the infield, and having Tom Brady hanging out in the infield talking about how much he despises Bill Belichick,” he added. “You don’t have to be a sports fan to love these kinds of gimmicks.”