In an effort to finish the 2020 season, the NBA has moved 22 of its 30 teams to a restricted access area at Disney World in Florida and has delivered on its promise to print “Black Lives Matter” on the game court in Orlando. The WNBA has returned, launching bubble games on July 25th, with a united mission to bring awareness of the police killing of Breonna Taylor).
The return of basketball is good news for fans all over the country. If you’re curious what safety precautions look like for players, coaches and staff, and how this model, with some modifications, might translate for future competitive play for high schools and colleges nationwide, we’ve got the breakdown.
The NBA has an extensive set of safety rules and precautions that individuals who participate in the bubble must follow in order to remain eligible to play. In addition to no fans at the games, athletes are living together for three months in isolation in a unique basketball commune that Lebron James described as a youth basketball tournament for grown men.
Anyone (from players and coaches to management staff and reporters) who has entered the NBA bubble has been tested for COVID-19 daily, since the week of June 23. During games, players have assigned seats on the bench, have been asked to refrain from licking their fingers during practice and games and are even wearing special biometric devices that measure their vital signs. The teams are all divided between three Disney hotels and are required to practice strict physical distancing and wear masks in common areas unless they are eating or participating in physical activity. Any player who tests positive for Coronavirus will be quarantined for a minimum of 7 days. While this system is extensive, it’s hardly foolproof and requires vigilance. Several players have already been benched in quarantine due to violations against the NBA’s rules.
This bubble experiment now has the attention of the NCAA officials and student-athletes who would undoubtedly like to return to their own courts when basketball season is slated to begin this November. The NBA’s model could offer college basketball a framework on how to safely resume competition, while The Daily Tar Heel reports that eliminating fans at the college level could change the entire atmosphere for players.
For now, many sports fans are just thrilled to be getting basketball game coverage on ESPN. Other organizations who have returned to play without a bubble format may already be regretting that decision. Miami Marlins MLB team has reported a total of 14 confirmed cases of positive COVID tests as of this week, possibly putting the entire MLB season in jeopardy and raising even more questions on how to safely return to competitive sports..
We want to know what you think! Should professional sports be returning to the game already, or should they have remained sidelined for 2020? What ideas do you have in your own sports world—leagues, high school, college, or recreationally—for safe competition? Tell us in the comments below!