With the 2020-2021 basketball season around the corner, the National Basketball Association is evaluating what schedules and games will look like with adjustments due to the current pandemic restrictions. Last year, the league was able to construct an environment that shielded all players and staff from receiving and transmitting the virus by creating a “bubble.” This year they are looking to do the same, while possibly allowing fans and playing games in more than one location. Despite concerns of the spread of COVID-19, the NBA should be able to construct a safe environment for all players, staff members, officials and possibly even fans.
In the middle of the 2019-2020 NBA season, COVID-19 forced the NBA to shut down for a few months of revaluation. After some discussion and brainstorming, the NBA agreed to start up the season again by using the “NBA Bubble.”
According to the website The Undefeated, the Bubble was created earlier this year so that the NBA could finish off the 2019-2020 season smoothly without COVID-19 affecting play. The NBA added the Bubble as a private area located in Orlando where the players and staff of 22 NBA teams stayed, The Undefeated explained. Throughout the whole period of time in which the league stayed in the Bubble, there were no outbreaks of COVID-19 among NBA players.
CBS Sports Network said the NBA will likely utilize a system like the Bubble again for the upcoming season. Sports Illustrated added the NBA is still discussing if fans will be able to attend games, but they have decided that rather than having the traditional 82 game season, each team will only play 72 games this season so that they can reduce the total number of fans attending all year. Conducting a 72 game season rather than an 82 game season would make the season safer because there would be fewer fans overall in the stadium, and the NBA could even use the last couple of weeks of the season as a quarantine time for staff and players, rather than playing the extra 10 games.
Sports Illustrated explained the NBA is also looking into possible playing regions that would put a small number of teams into different areas so that all 30 teams are not traveling to each other’s cities throughout the year. If teams were separated into regions, games could be played in fewer arenas across the country and there would be less travel and contact with fewer people, therefore decreasing chances of spreading the virus.
Without the upcoming season, NBA teams will suffer devastating economic losses. Sports Illustrated said that for each game that is not played, the players will not receive a game check. If the NBA season were to be cancelled, workers for the arena, team and the players would all face financial consequences.
Some could argue that having an NBA season will put players, staff and fans in danger of catching the virus because the sport is played indoors where the virus spreads rapidly. This is not necessarily true, because fans will be social distanced, and so will players, if not on the court. If the seats on benches are spread out like they were last year, players and staff will have a reduced chance of getting the virus from someone who has it on the team. Everyone not playing on the court will also be required to wear masks, making it even harder to pass the virus from one to another. If everyone plays their part by distancing and wearing masks like students are, there should be no problem conducting a season.
It is not a regular time for any of us, especially in sports, but taking the precautions that the NBA is taking it will move them one step closer to a normal season. The NBA should be able to play their 2020-2021 season because the league has taken necessary precautions that allow players, staff, and crew members to earn their paychecks and play games in the safest environment possible.