As the sports world came to a stop on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, everyone wondered when we might see professional sports be played in the United States again. More importantly, how would they do it without spreading the virus to the players, coaches, and other personnel involved in game-day operations? The NBA and NHL came up with an idea that, to this point, has worked to near perfection preventing the spread of COVID-19 while making the health and safety of everyone involved the main priority.
Staying in the Bubble
Both the NHL and the NBA put themselves into “bubbles” where no one is allowed in except essential personnel for the teams and the league. The NBA, currently playing at the Disney Wide World of Sports in Orlando, does not allow anyone to leave the bubble without a valid reason. If they leave, they will have to quarantine for 4-10 days depending on their reason for leaving. Furthermore, each person in the bubble is tested daily for COVID-19. The NBA has not registered a positive test since they entered the bubble in early August.
The NHL chose to go with two separate bubbles both located in Canada. The Western Conference is playing in Edmonton, Alberta while the Eastern Conference is playing in Toronto, Ontario. They are subject to similar restrictions and regular testing that the NBA has.
One of the main reasons the bubble concept works is because everyone is adhering to the rules and keeping their social distance between each other outside of the game. The restrictions placed on them can be difficult, and outside of a few lapses, both leagues have done a good job of maintaining and enforcing the bubble to ensure that there is no spread of COVID-19 within their ranks.
While fans are not allowed to attend games, they can attend virtually through the NBA’s virtual fan program where you can sign up to be in the digital stands displayed in the arenas where the games are played.
When you are outside of your hotel room, you must wear a mask at all times except for when exercising or eating. This is an obvious, important rule that has contributed to the zero positive cases being registered in the bubble. In the event that one of the rules is broken, the NBA has set up an anonymous tip line to report rule violations so those people can be dealt with appropriately.
The NHL and NBA are able to operate in these bubbles with relative ease, while not having to worry about positive tests ruining a team’s ability to participate. However, this is not the case in every sport. Major League Baseball is not playing in a bubble, and they have had multiple problems with teams not adhering to rules set forth by the teams. The Miami Marlins at one point had 17 positive cases on their team and were forced to postpone play for a week. The St. Louis Cardinals have had 10 games canceled to this point, having to postpone a number of games due to an outbreak within their ranks as well. As of now, 37 total games have been postponed throughout the league.
Without a bubble, sports essentially will not be able to be played without the inherent risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. While the NBA and NHL do not want to be in a bubble forever, it has proven to be the most effective way of being able to play games while staying safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In the world we now live in, due to the pandemic, virtual resources are being used more than ever to help customers get the insurance coverage they need.
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Jeffrey is a graduate from the University of North Texas and joined the Empower Brokerage marketing team in 2020. He is the social media manager for empower brokerage, in addition to writing blogs and doing various campaigns. LinkedIn profile