COVID-19 has affected professional sports longer than most had expected. The organization of some sports leagues during this pandemic were subpar to most people’s standards.
The sports world came to an abrupt halt in March of 2020 when the United States completely shut down due to the COVID-19 virus.
The leagues that were immediately affected by the shutdown were the NBA, NHL and MLB. The NBA and NHL were closing in on the home stretch of their seasons, while the MLB had their season postponed just a few weeks before opening day.
The NBA has been the most successful season to restart amongst all of the professional sports so far. The NBA created an agreement with Disney to have the sports complex owned by ESPN at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to play host to the NBA’s restart.
Walt Disney World played host to 22 of the 30 NBA teams, all 22 of those teams had an opportunity to qualify for the NBA playoffs. Walt Disney world also housed all 22 teams’ players, staff and media during the entire 5 months with daily testing.
This proved to be successful because, during the entire 5 months of the bubble, the NBA did not have any positive COVID-19 cases.
The NHL was the next league to follow in line with implementing a “bubble” similar to the NBA to continue their season as well. The NHL organized to have 2 hub cities play host to their restart, those cities were Edmonton and Toronto, Canada. The NHL only invited 12 teams to their bubble, which were all of the teams that originally qualified for the postseason.
The NHL made sure locker rooms and team benches were thoroughly sanitized before each game. The NHL conducted a total of 33,174 COVID-19 tests during their bubble and in both locations, they didn’t get a single positive test.
The next league scheduled to restart their season was the MLB.
The MLB was not able to implement a bubble for their season. After deciding this the league had to figure out something quickly. So, the MLB decided to only have a 60-game season, ending around the same time the season would regularly.
The start of the MLB season was rough with multiple players from multiple teams receiving positive tests, the biggest name being Washington Nationals star Juan Soto.
The MLB had a large amount of positive cases during their minimized 60-game season, which made them force their hand towards a “bubble” playoff method. The MLB’s version of the bubble was played at Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Stadium. During the postseason, only one player tested positive and it was Dodgers 3rd basemen, Justin Turner, in game 6 of the World Series, which ended up being the final game of the 2020 MLB season.
Last to begin was the NFL, who are currently in their 9th week have had their fair share of issues with COVID-19, to say the least. Through 9 weeks, 16 teams have either had to place at least one player on the on the COVID-19 list or had to shut down their entire facility due to a COVID-19 scare.
With more than half of the NFL’s scheduled season, with all the issues they are currently having, they have luckily been able to get away with rescheduling and postponing games instead of cancelling them altogether.
However, if there continues to be positive cases and the league runs out of wiggle room to move games, what will the NFL do then? Could we see a Super Bowl played in March? Could the NFL make it to the Super Bowl without having to halt the season?
Only time will tell but so far all of the major sports leagues that have returned have finished their respective seasons without any major hiccups. However, the NFL would be the first to do so without having a “bubble” setting at any point.