NBA’s face off against Covid-19


Dhir Patel, Reporter

Imagine yourself stranded on a deserted island with just a tent and food that will last a month. Will you have the strength to last for a month without society, social media, entertainment, and everything else that makes you happy through a week?. As of March 16, 2020, the majority of people around the world have been stuck in their homes for over 9 months. It seems as though we’re all living on our private islands. 

Due to the fear of Covid-19, many industries and jobs started shutting down one by one, including the NFL, NHL, MLB, Auto racing, international soccer, and movie and TV show productions. These industries were forced to shut down because of the virus, which was airborne and able to spread quickly. 

During this pandemic, many people found their new hobbies and interests while staying home all day long. Many started watching new shows and movies that they never expected to watch if this pandemic never happened. Take the NBA for example, viewers around the country tuned in for the championship finals in August. In 2020 and now in 2021, the NBA’s main priority is keeping their players safe and making sure they don’t catch Covid-19 while running the season smoothly.

A LA Times article mentions a 113-page document made by the league describing different rules and protocols that will help prevent Covid-19 within the league. “The core health practices relied upon in these protocols are physical distancing and use of face coverings, hand and respiratory hygiene, reduced use of shared objects and spaces, rigorous cleaning and disinfection procedures, and regular health monitoring and diagnostic testing,” are a few protocols outlined in the document. The NBA has been proactive when it comes to keeping their players healthy; and as we see from these rules, the league is taking this pandemic seriously. 

Since the start of this season, the league has tested its players daily. They started before training camp on Nov 28th to ensure that all players were healthy enough to play. The league also inspected various team facilities and gyms to make sure all teammates, coaches, and staff followed proper safety protocols. Additionally, if the league catches players or teams not following proper guidelines, they face potential penalties for not complying with or failing to report violations of the mandated safety protocols. 

If by any chance a player does test positive for Covid-19, then the player could return only if a team doctor clears him or waits at least 12 days since the first tested positive. Another rule is that a player isn’t allowed to enter the team facility if exposed to someone with Covid. That player isn’t allowed to practice or workout with other teammates until a team doctor performs a medical and risk exposure review. 

When the league can get their hands on the vaccine for Covid-19, they and the National Basketball Players Association will decide whether players, coaches, and staff will be required to receive it. As you can see, this league is doing everything possible to keep its players safe and healthy. 

Initially, at the start of March, Silver announced that they would be suspending the season for at least 30 days after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 before the tip-off. However, at the end of those 30 days, the virus became deadlier and harder to control. 

This suspension soon ended only four months after the start of the NBA bubble, which resumed at an isolation zone at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida where 22 teams played out the rest of the season followed by the playoffs. The bubble was a $190 million investment made by the league and in return was able to get an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue. 

Unlike the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs which took place inside a secure bubble at Disney World, this year the NBA has decided to play these games within teams’ home courts. This means that players would have to travel a lot, which leads to them being in contact with other people (increasing the chances of catching Covid). This also means that the NBA will be placing real strict rules for players to follow so they don’t catch the virus.  

This season the NBA league started their games on Dec 11, 2020, with a few preseason games which lead into the first half of the regular season which will run until March 4, 2021, interrupted by the All-Star break that occurs on March 5-10. Next comes the second half of the regular season that will go on from March 11- May 16, then the playoffs from May 22- July 22. The NBA is planning to have a 72-game regular season. All these games will take place either in a home stadium or away stadium without a live audience in the stands. 

Many NBA fans around the country have their own opinion on whether the NBA is doing a good job of controlling the spread of Covid-19 within the league. Many believe that the league’s rules are working and that players are healthy for the games. On the other hand, many think it’s a bad idea for players to play games that require close contact and breaks social distancing. 

“I think that the NBA is doing a very good job on making sure the players are following the safety guidelines. They are making sure that players follow the rules,” said a sophomore and player on the JV basketball team at the NYC iSchool.

This student and fan believes that the NBA is doing a very good job of following the guidelines and is trying its best to keep all its players safe and healthy. This isn’t the only student who believes this. 

A junior from Aviation High School said he does believe the NBA is doing a good job. “They have to take tests to make sure they don’t have the virus and also make sure that if someone is sick then they can’t play for that game until they fully recover. These rules prevent other players from catching the virus and putting others at risk.” 

Just like the other student, this student has similar thoughts on these issues and believes that the NBA is doing a good job of making sure players are being tested and keeping them safe as possible. 

Another sophomore student from Manhattan Center For Science and Mathematics shares similar thoughts, he said, “I do believe that the NBA is doing somewhat of a good job on controlling the pandemic. There aren’t many COVID cases amongst staff and players.” 

All these students have similar thoughts on the NBA’s Covid-19 rules and how they manage games and are making sure players stay safe. However, some fans disagree with the idea of playing such close contact games indoors with rising confirmed cases around the country. 

In a situation like this, there’s always another side to the story. Many think the NBA is doing a great job, others think differently. In an article for The Guardian, Oren Weisfeld writes, “The NBA acknowledging that some league members are ‘likely’ to contract Covid-19 is unfortunate, especially considering the long-term health effects associated with the virus.”

Many fans think that the NBA is putting players and staff members at risk. It’s known that after catching the virus many of those people suffer long-term health effects. As it said in the article that the NBA knows that few people will catch the virus even with these strict rules. 

This makes people wonder, is playing these games real worth damaging a player’s health? When you consider all these facts, it puts the spotlight on the commissioner and managers who are the ones making decisions. Take a second and put yourself in the player’s shoes; would you play in this season during this deathly pandemic or would you opt-out?