This Coronavirus Pandemic will change the way we handle social etiquette in both sports and life. Handshakes and some other cultural norms might be a thing of the past, so how does this relate to Supercross and Motocross? If you have ever attended an autograph signing then you are aware of how many germs are passed around. Dealer autograph signings have been on the chopping block long before the Coronavirus sent the world into a state of emergency and will be the first thing permanently eliminated.
(After Anaheim 1 Cooper Webb was extremely ill and it may have spread it to Justin Barcia)
Riders in the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross series have been hit hard by a flu virus that started back at Anaheim; Cooper Webb, Zach Osborne, Justin Barcia, and many others have been open about their struggles with illness. This is a combination of handshakes, travel, and riders working with natural fatigue. Imagine doing an intense cardio workout at 10 pm on Saturday, then shaking hands and walking indoors and out. All this while still wearing your sweaty clothes, then after finally getting to bed at 1 am. After around 3-5 hours of sleep, you are ushered into a busy airport to fly across the country, then back to training on Monday. Asking riders to do this for 17 out of 18 weeks, it's shocking they don't get sick more often.
This will be the nail in the coffin for dealer autograph signings but don't blame this entirely on the Coronavirus. Teams and riders have wanted these canceled for quite some time, but not for health reasons. Dealer signings initially brought crucial attention to dealers, but the marketing landscape has changed dramatically and they no longer add the same value. Some might even argue they impede day to day sales while being inconvenient and expensive. This doesn't mean teams and riders won't have to help dealers, but they will be used in different capacities. Look for teams and riders to help local dealers with social media videos, phone messages, and other modern-day promotional materials. Time to adjust business practices to meet modern-day consumer needs.
(video from an autograph signing in 2018)
While sponsor and fan obligations are crucial to the survival of Supercross and Motocross, this is a wake-up call to proceed with caution and evaluate new ways to interact with fans, sponsors and media. Time to take advantage of the modern-day media tools, maybe riders host an Instagram live session for local dealers. In the months leading up to the race, dealers could use this to help boost sales. Customers who purchase a motorcycle could have access to the live session. These could be incredibly intimate and allow fans to closely interact with riders while allowing riders the comfort of their hotel room.
(official canceled event announcement from Feld)
It will be interesting to see how the 2020 series finishes or if it's already finished. The logistics of changing venues and rearranging schedules while every other live event and professional sport is doing the same.. As this fluid situation changes by the minute, it might be best to cut losses and look toward 2021. At best I see the series holding two more events in 2020. I expect both the Las Vegas and Salt Lake City rounds to be held, but with adjusted formats and possibly doubleheaders.
(Is Eli Tomac the 2020 champion? I bet Ken Roczen would have fought harder at Daytona if he knew the series title was on the line.)
Stay safe out there and remember to be courteous to your fellow humans. If your one of the people who was nervous and bought a ton of toilet paper, how about sharing with your neighbors? We all have to share this big ball flying through space, so let’s use common courtesy and adjust with the changing times.
(Be kind and share the TP)