Time Magazine International Edition

Play ball—or balk? The risks and rewards of restarting sports

N A NEAR EMPTY ARENA IN JACKSONVILLE, FLA., ON MAY 9, Ultimate Fighting Championship held its first event in the U.S. since COVID-19 dealt American pro sports a knockout blow. One of the two dozen fighters on the card—and two of his cornermen—had been removed from the lineup after testing positive for the virus, but UFC 249 carried on. The event ended up drawing more than 700,000 pay-per-view purchases, according to the confirmation—as if any were needed—of the country’s pent-up demand for live sports. About a week later, NASCAR staged its first pandemic-era race on May 17 in Darlington, S.C., with safety measures in place. Pit road crew members, for example, wore either fireproof masks or face screens. Kevin Harvick won the Real Heroes 400, whose average viewership of 6.3 million represented a 38% increase over that of NASCAR’s last race, on March

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