Image c/o: NBC Sports
How do you truthfully play sports during a global pandemic without exposing yourself to the lethal virus? For the NBA, the answer was an isolated bubble away from reality.
Located at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, the NBA invited twenty-two teams to be shut off from the rest of the world for three months. Seeming like an impracticable task at the beginning, the NBA has actually been able to pull it off with no positive Covid tests since the start of their season. The bubble, being suitable and effective in numerous ways. What is the bubble, and what protocols do the NBA make their players follow?
The bubble is a complex consisting of several arenas, which is where the different games are played, and three different hotels for the teams to stay at. These include The Grand Floridian, The Grand Destino Tower at Coronado Springs, and the Yacht Club. However, the NBA bubble rules must be followed at all times by each individual partaking in the sport.
Upon arrival to the bubble, every player, staff member, and coach must be self-isolated for up to forty-eight hours until two COVID-19 tests come back negative. For Bruno Caboclo, Forward Positioner on the Houston Rockets, he was placed into an extended ten-day quarantine, along with nose swab testing, because he did not know that he was unable to leave his room for forty-eight hours upon arrival; so the NBA is not tolerating noncompliance with their protocols. After the first two covid tests to come back negative, more tests are done regularly to every individual living inside the bubble to ensure they have not contracted the virus, and emergency plans have been put in place. If their covid test happened to come back positive, ESPN has outlined a multi-step process that must be adhered to, and is as follows:
1. They will be placed in isolated housing where no other individual who has tested positive will be staying.
2. A second covid test would be given to them as soon as possible to indicate whether or not the first test was a false positive.
3.If the test comes back positive, they will remain in the isolated housing. If it is negative, a third test will be given twenty-four to forty-eight hours for continued monitoring.
4. If the third test is negative, re-entry to the bubble is allowed.
According to the CDC guidelines, “a player who tests positive, and is eventually cleared, will need to go through cardiac screenings either two weeks after the first positive test, or two weeks after his symptoms clear.” The players must pass the cardiac before returning to play, and no exceptions will be made. The NBA will also be using video technology in an effort to trace the positive tester’s recent interactions, to monitor any close contact with others for at least fifteen minutes and then they would be tested.
In short, the NBA bubble has been working better than any other sport team protocol during the pandemic because they are continuously testing and isolating all of their players. Only two players out of three-hundred and twenty-two players in the bubble had tested positive, and those players left to isolate at home. As of right now, no new players have tested positive for weeks but, in other sports like the MLB, the entire season may be cancelled or come to a halt due to many outbreaks.
Throughout this pandemic, the NBA, in contrast to other professional sports, has more than proved that the health of their players is at the forefront of their priorities. These players do not play just for fans' enjoyment, but also for their livelihoods, and if they are not taking the right precautions then they can not support their families.