NBA excels in the bubble, as the MLB struggles fighting COVID-19

Noel Cabrera
Editor in Chief

The NBA bubble looks to be the role model for what a professional sports league should look like during this pandemic. For the fourth straight week, no NBA players tested positive for coronavirus while in the bubble.

On the other hand, the MLB has experienced two coronavirus outbreaks on two teams roughly three weeks into the season. MLB is not playing in a bubble, and players are permitted to travel freely within their cities. With this in play, the virus has been hitting the MLB hard.

Outbreaks of the virus have forced the MLB to postpone 21 games over the first two weeks of its season. ESPN reported that the memo MLB sent to teams announcing the additions of compliance officers also told them to encourage team personnel to quarantine in hotels while on the road and what players can do while at their home. There is no mandate to this, though. Sounds like self-policing and a prayer.

“We are playing,” Commissioner of the MLB Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Karl Ravech. “The players need to do better (about following health and safety protocols), but I am not a quitter in general, and there is no reason to quit now. We have to be fluid, it is manageable.”

The NBA seems to be thriving in the bubble located at Disney World, in Orlando, Florida. The NBA has implemented strict protocols that have not been tried in the U.S. on a universal scale.

The bubble seemed like a ridiculous concept when introduced months ago as the league weighed out its options to restart its 2019-20 season. Yet here we are, with the NBA bubble seeming like a viable and only solution to the problems associated with playing professional sports during a global pandemic.

Walt Disney World Resort is the site of every game on the NBA schedule though early October and a 2019-20 NBA champion will be crowned in a relatively empty arena.

The concept is pretty simple. The NBA figured, as long as it could get all players, coaches and team/league personnel packed into one place, while COVID-19 testing assuring that none have been infected with the virus, and not let non-essential people in, it could preserve health and safety for all involved and that it has done.

COVID-19 testing is done regularly inside the bubble, although the league has not specified exactly how often players are tested, unique circumstances do lead to daily testing for some.

Now for the MLB, these COVID-19 clusters that recently just saw 13 St. Louis Cardinal players and staff and more than 20 Miami Marlins players and staff tested positive for coronavirus have forced the league to act on these issues before the outbreak gets out of hand and sends the season to a screeching halt. The MLB and the players association (MLBPA) have reportedly agreed to new safety protocols designed to reduce the risk of additional outbreaks within the game.

Although it is not a bubble that the MLB is implementing to secure the health and safety of its employees, they have come up with a series of new strict measures that must be followed:

– Players and staff must wear face coverings that cover the mouth and nose at all times while at the ballpark other than while on the field of play itself, including dugout and bullpen.

– In order to minimize time spent together indoors, home team must provide outdoor covered spaces or visiting team. Home teams must also provide appropriate spaces that allow for social distancing during rain delays.

– Traveling parties must be reduced to absolutely essential personnel.

– Players and team personnel must wear face coverings at all times at team hotels other than in each person’s individual room.

– A member of a road team, whether player or staff, must inform the team compliance officer if he or she wishes to leave the team hotel for any reason.

– Home team players and staff members are now prohibited from going to bars, lounges, malls, or other places in which larger groups gather.

The MLB and MLBPA have agreed to disciplinary measures for players and staff who violate these new guidelines. Although it is not a bubble, the MLB continues to the search for a better plan to ensure the safety of its players and staff.

Courts inside the NBA bubble. Photo Courtesy of Yahoo Sports
Miami Marlins Jesus Aguilar wears a mask in the on deck circle
Photo Courtesy of Julio Cortez/

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