Should you wear a mask if you’re going to watch a short track race among hundreds of others in close proximity? Kyle Busch thinks so.
Short tracks across the south opened up to fans for the first time over the Memorial Day weekend. That included tracks like South Alabama Speedway in Opp, Alabama, and Ace Speedway in Burlington, North Carolina.
The racing at Ace Speedway happened in front of crowded grandstands and in defiance of an order by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper prohibiting outdoor gatherings of over 25 people amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
How so? The sheriff of Alamance County said earlier Saturday that he wouldn’t enforce the “unconstitutional” order limiting crowd sizes. Pictures showed hundreds in attendance and the vast majority of them appeared to not be wearing masks.
The Season Opener at Ace Speedway. pic.twitter.com/XTOOv4NbDm
— Amanda Ferguson (@_amandaferguson) May 23, 2020
Fans at South Alabama Speedway for its weekend races were subject to temperature checks and measures in accordance with state rules. After seeing a picture of fans at South Alabama on Saturday night and other places, Busch tweeted that mask-wearing at short tracks should be mandatory.
What I am a huge fan of is people going and supporting their local short tracks! 👊🏻 I’ve seen pictures from a few tracks this weekend. However I do think healthier practices should b used. Mandatory mask for admission. 😷 https://t.co/RAzN8RvMAO
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 24, 2020
After winning the Xfinity Series race on Monday night, Busch explained why he supported fans wearing masks.
“When all of this kinda went down, much of it was spoken about masks and what not and everything else,” Busch said. “With where we’re at today with people saying masks don’t mean anything, I still think there’s a sense of human hygiene and taking care of your neighbor. I think there’s something to that. You go to a racetrack and you either cough because you get water down the wrong pipe or whatever it might be or you sneeze or whatever, at least you’re keeping some of that to yourself rather than just spraying, right? So I think there is something to that.”
“Obviously I know the masks aren’t going to really cover up any virus but we’re all doing what we can as far as social distancing and if we can’t do that you try to wear a mask. So I saw the grandstands packed, just figured, hey we can all take care of our neighbor. That’s just kind of my idea.”
Experts have argued that wearing masks can help decrease the transmission of coronavirus. States like New York have required people to wear masks in public while countless businesses have also said that customers must wear masks while in their stores.
NASCAR isn’t allowing fans
NASCAR isn’t allowing fans at any of its races for the foreseeable future and is also going further than simply banning fans from attending. Everyone at a NASCAR race must wear a mask and is also subject to a temperature check. That includes drivers and pit crew members when they aren’t wearing helmets and crew chiefs, owners, reporters, officials, and anyone else on site. Social distancing measures have also been implemented.
NASCAR is able to prohibit fans from attending because it has a massive television contract with Fox and NBC. Short tracks across the country don’t have the luxury of television contracts and rely on ticket sales for a large portion of their revenue. Myriads of short tracks can’t operate if they don’t have fans purchasing tickets to come and watch the races.
But there’s also a wide gulf of common sense between having empty grandstands at a track that desperately needs paying fans and sections of bleachers full of people close together without wearing masks. That common sense may require a little sacrifice on the part of everyone, whether it means wearing masks and having fewer people in the stands. But it’s needed if we want to be able to keep each other healthy while trying to get back to any sense of normalcy.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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