The NBA deserves a round of applause for the huge success of its NBA bubble that obtained zero confirmed cases of COVID-19, setting high prevention standards for professional sports leagues. The MLB on the other hand, struggled to protect its players safety as the virus nearly brought an end to their season.
At first, I was skeptical of how the idea of a bubble was going to work out. Where would the teams stay? How often will they get tested? Do players have the self-control to not break the rules? How many cases will it take to shut down the season? What happens if a player tests positive?
The league placed strict, but fair restrictions on its players. Upon arrival, they were placed in quarantine for 48 hours until they received two negative tests, in order to roam the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. All 22 teams stayed in the resort during the bubble and used buses to travel to the facilities to practice and play their remaining games of the season.
While the players were in the resort, they wore biometric devices that monitored their vital signs, and they had restrictions on who players could congregate with while they were on campus. Plus, if a player did test positive, they would have to be secluded from the campus in a separate location. Luckily for the NBA, they never had to execute these options, because they did not record any positive cases of the virus.
Despite the many doubts I had about the bubble, it turned out better than I expected. These restrictions may seem like the players are living in a dictatorship, but they understood the importance of following the guidelines that were placed. Without them, one single case of the virus could have started a domino effect of more players becoming infected — putting the season in jeopardy.
Sadly, the MLB did the complete opposite, and it was quite the embarrassment. It took three months of negotiations to agree to a 60-game season on June 24. Therefore, the organization had a small amount of time to establish guidelines and protocols for players to follow before they had to report to training in late July.
For the MLB, there were no official restrictions of what the players could do outside of the stadium. The league wanted the players to “ensure they act responsibly” when they are not playing. But they were basically allowed to do what they want with no short of repercussions, putting their teammates at risk of contracting the virus.
Because of the lack of restrictions placed on the players, it led to a massive outbreak last month. According to CBS Sports, there were over 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 43 postponed games due to the virus. Many teams suffered setbacks with some players out for two weeks.
At one point, I thought the season was going to get canceled, because it was putting the players’ lives at risk. It also gave a bad look to Commissioner Rob Manfred who received backlash for his poor effort prioritizing player safety.
Overall, the NBA did a fantastic job putting the safety of their players, coaching staff and all other personnel first, making the NBA bubble a huge success. The NHL was the only other league that followed a similar bubble format as the NBA, and it too did not have any confirmed cases. Both leagues were able to execute the proper precautions in order to maintain the spread of the virus.
It is a shame seeing the MLB, NFL and the NCAA not take the proper precautions in preventing the spread of the virus. The number of cases is putting the safety of players in jeopardy, and people have now started to question whether the leagues ever took the virus serious. If only they followed the similar path to the NBA, who knows, the number of cases could have been much smaller.
I for one did not expect this idea of an NBA bubble to work. Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues deserve all the credit for the hard work they did to salvage the season with these unprecedented circumstances.
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