In the Bubble We Trust

It’s been a year since Covid-19 made its debut on the global scene and nearly a year since the National Basketball Association faced unprecedented circumstances and decisions. In early 2020 we got news of Rudy Gobert being sick with the virus and infecting his teammate Donovan Mitchell. What followed was something none of us were prepared for. The NBA season had been ravaged and shut down until further notice. The league had to make tough decisions and necessary changes to continue with the entertainment we all loved so dearly. The “bubble” setup was then put into effect. We got a glimpse of how challenging the future would be surrounding this virus. The National Basketball Association was very diligent with its setup and finishing a broken season. But was that enough?

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Like any plan, there were kinks. Players were negatively affected mentally by not having their families and friends with them in the bubble setup. Also, mental fatigue from the virus and other social movements happening at that time was very widespread. Still, the NBA was successful in its execution of that plan. They should be commended as there were no outbreaks of the virus due to the diligence of those involved. So if it ain’t broke, then why fix it? The 2020-2021 season has recently begun after a short offseason but, it’s feeling like we’re slowly heading back to step 1 of this outbreak. Teams have gone back to their respective facilities and stadiums, operating without a bubble. So what has been the contrasting result?

In recent weeks we have had more and more news of positive Covid tests and outbreaks within these organizations. The Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, and Brooklyn Nets have all made headlines regarding players having tested positive for the coronavirus. Thus resulting in players having to sit out for multiple games to contact trace and quarantine. Teams have had to nearly forfeit games and run an 8-man rotation due to players not being available. Is this just our adjusted reality from here on out? Or should there be steps taken to ensure the safety of these players and staff?

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In late 2020 the NBA implemented health and safety protocols for the upcoming season. Rules were laid out concerning testing, travel, and social expectations according to the guidelines provided. But has this been enough? Although the league has made great strides to protect its players and its brand, it still seems to be losing to the virus. With another outbreak and cancellation looming, tough decisions will have to be made once again. The NBA should consider setting up another bubble or multiple bubble sites. Someplace where their required environment is more controlled. In the outside world, there is just no running from this virus without a well available vaccination. Serious consideration should be made to protect the game we all know and love.

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