The Reopening of Sports: A Homerun or a Foul Ball?


Courtesy of Bloomberg CityLab

Cydney Macon, Copy Editor

It’s no secret that sports are back and at ‘em after a dry spell in sports entertainment due to COVID-19. Now that we’ve come around the corner to the ninth month of the pandemic, MLS, NBA, NFL and the NHL have all made reappearances with new regulations.  Controversy sparked in July when Major Leagues sports announced they were going to make a comeback.  Many worried that that this would add to the spike in the already 70,000 cases across the US.  

Some of the regulations included the MLB’s “no spitting or high fives” rules along with cutting the season to only sixty games for the season with no fans in the stadium.  The NBA and NHL have both used a new system called “Bubbles.”  The “Bubble” works by allowing players and coaches packed into one place (like the NBA at Disney World) with COVID-19 testing.  Anyone non-essential to the league is not allowed in. Most regulations in sports are pushing testing among all team members and reducing non-essential people. 

Although these regulations have been set up to keep players safe, it hasn’t quite stopped some players from getting sick.  Recently, reported on September 15 on CBSSports, 43 MLB games were postponed due to positive cases. “Five teams have had at least one player or staff member test positive during the season,” CBSSports said.  According to ESPN, the NFL has had a low number of cases circulating in the league, but NFL members have still been affected.  As of September 16, there were seven positive cases reported.  However, as of September 22, there have been zero cases. 

On the other hand, there have been sports leagues like the NBA and NHL that have had zero cases during the reopen.  The “Bubble” seems to be making an impactful effect.  Fans have asked why MLB or NFL won’t use the “Bubble”. Rob Manfred, the baseball commissioner, stated, “We’re different than other sports. We would have had to have multiple locations probably just in order to have enough facilities to make it work.”  ESPN also reported that the NFL wouldn’t use the “bubble” because it would work in theory, but in practice would be “unrealistic and undesirable.” 

 West High’s Boys Basketball Coach von Stade shared his opinion of the matter. “I think the teams are doing it right with no fans, or a small percentage of fans. The NBA using the Bubble seems like the most controlled environment and safest.” 

Senior athlete David Akomah also shared that, “At first I thought it was risky and that a lot of people in the Bubbles would get COVID-19. But they made a plan to keep people safe… and it seems to be working as there weren’t many cases.” 

With sports entertainment having a different face this year, sports fans and organizations are wondering if sports entertainment will change forever from the effects of the pandemic. David Birkett from Detroit Free Press predicted sports to have a national change much like 9/11, advancing the amount of security to entering a stadium.  He predicts stadiums, for a while at least, won’t be reaching full capacity.  Another uncertainty is the future of sports spectators. 

When asked about the future of major league sports, von Stade responded with, “With pro-sports, you must follow the money in decisions of business. Stay-at-home orders showed us how much sports intersects with our daily lives. ESPN alone is eight channels into eighty million TV’s globally.” 

Akomah also responded with, “I think COVID will change sports in the short term.  As time goes on and things get better and back to normal, it may not affect sports as much, but it can open up possibilities to go virtual a little more often.”

As sports continue throughout the pandemic, the best we can do is see what happens and hope the spread slows down to get back to how things once were.