By: Jack Houston
For sports fans alike, it has seemingly felt like an eternity since we‘ve had the opportunity to turn on the TV, watch our favorite sport events, and for a small moment forget the troubles of the outside world. With several months passing by with no real signs of a countrywide reopening, nationwide anxiety has been steadily brewing. As such, to please their impatient fans, those in charge of sporting leagues and events across the world made plans and regulations to finally bring back
As leagues across the world have attempted to reopen and finally quench the thirst of their loyal fans, some sports have seemingly had it much easier than others. The most prominent example of course being tennis, an already naturally socially distanced sport.
However, even this seemingly safe activity was hit with a wave of disaster when 31-year old tennis player Benoît Paire tested positive for COVID-19 during the US Open, an event that tends to have eager tennis fans on the edge of their seat. Not only did this sudden news leave several top tennis players quarantined and eliminated from the tournament, but it also exposed the lackluster contamination protocols of the event. The poor planning by the event leaders has led to both technical and emotional damage: waiting until five days after Paire was sent home to enforce quarantine, changing quarantine rules for exposed players twice within 24 hours, and not even having a plan to determine what to do with players who test negative after exposure (The New York Times).
“I have only one desire,” said projected top seed doubles player Kristina Mladenovic to The New York Times, “and that’s to get my freedom back, and even that we don’t have yet.”
This hasn’t been the only lead affected, however, with multiple NFL games, European soccer games, UFC fights, and pretty much almost every sport event being either affected or cancelled from positive testing.
Over the past several months, however, the NBA has taken upon itself to implement one of the most interesting yet effective means of reopening. After securing a deal with Disney and establishing a “Bubble” facility within Disney resorts, critics and players themselves were skeptical from the start.
“This ain’t it,” said sixth man of the year and Los Angeles Clippers player on Twitter. “Yea I’m ‘bout to starve out here in Orlando.”
The struggles raged on in the beginning of the resumed season with players complaining about the lack of food and their feelings about not being able to see their families for months. This was both a mental and physical battle for these players. So will it pay off?
Out of every sport in the world, it would be crazy to say that contact heavy basketball would work in these scenarios. However, that’s just what happened. For weeks, all the players in the NBA Bubble tested negative and the league ended up finishing the entire season even with family members and guests allowed to enter the facility.
And despite LeBron James describing this to ESPN as probably “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done as far as a professional,” NBA fans have been ecstatic that they have gotten to finally finish this season.
“I first realized that the corona virus was serious because it felt unreal the day the NBA was cancelled,” says Ramapo junior and NBA fan Ciro Schiro. “But I’ll probably always remember March 13th because I was so in need of live sports in a very long and boring quarantine.”
It’s safe to say that we all need a break from the stressful world, and the reopening of sports will certainly help.
The NBA Bubble in Orlando is one of the most advanced takes by a professional sporting league to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to play (Photo Courtesy of NBC News).