A few months ago, the world was put on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic with many sports having to cut their seasons short. Now, athletics ranging from basketball to professional bull riding are starting back again but with major protocol changes. Although these changes are not completely ideal for fans, they are the new normal and will continue into the foreseeable future.
The NBA resumed its season on July 30 in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Once the players arrived in Orlando, they were required to self-quarantine for 10-14 days before being allowed to interact with their teams. The NBA players are staying in a designated area called the “NBA Bubble.” Players are allowed to leave the bubble but must self-quarantine again if their absence is unexcused. The NBA commission says that players are to be tested for COVID-19 regularly, but they never specified if it would be on a daily or weekly basis. Since fans are not allowed to physically attend the games, the NBA offers fans the opportunity to attend games virtually. After the first round of playoffs, players on the remaining teams will be allowed to invite family members, “longtime close personal friends with whom a player has an established, pre-existing, and known personal relationship,” private security or family child care providers. Each player will be allowed four guests, with the exception of those who have four minor children being allowed more, and are also given one ticket per game for an adult to attend with the adult being allowed to bring one small child.
“It is unfortunate that there can’t be fans at the NBA games but at least basketball is back,” senior Michael Sweeney said. “Plus it creates an open gym atmosphere, which is a cool new dynamic.”
The MLB has also resumed action, but their startup has had a couple more bumps in the road. For instance, about seventeen staff and players of the Miami Marlins tested positive for COVID-19. There have also been twenty-one games postponed so far. The MLB has been struggling to get players to follow protocol closely, and even MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in an interview that the players need to do better. Unlike the NBA, the MLB does not have a bubble set up in one designated city for all the players to stay during the season. But similar to the NBA, fans have the option of virtually attending MLB games since there are no fans allowed to physically attend.
“I think baseball could have started sooner since it doesn’t involve much contact,” junior Michael Grant said. “I’m not the one who decides though, so I’m just happy I get to watch baseball.”
Soccer’s biggest tournament in Europe has also decided to restart. The UEFA Champions League’s first two games since March were played August 7. Once the tournament reaches the quarter-finals, the games will be played in Lisbon, Portugal. The semi-finals will be played in Nyon, Switzerland, but the final will be played in Istanbul, Turkey. All the games will be played behind closed doors, and the presence of virtual fans is still unknown.
“Soccer’s most competitive and important tournament is back,” freshman Mary Clayton Soto said. “I’m looking forward to seeing which team becomes the champions of Europe.”
Although the thrill of attending a sporting event is not a possibility yet, games are starting to be played, and fans are able to watch them virtually. Sports fans can only hope that the players follow the protocols each respective commissioning team has set and continue to stay safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.