Amid the different safety measures in place across the country because of COVID-19, the National Basketball Association has decided to restart its season with new safety measures and no spectators.
The season was forced to stop in early March 2020 because of safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The players, coaches and NBA administration met in the following months to discuss ways to safely restart the season for competition by July 13.
Recently, the NBA is struggling to keep the season going while protecting its athletes and staff. Precautions are set in place, such as isolating and testing the athletes and staff involved in practice and competition and creating a “bubble” within which the players can safely train and compete.
Despite the lack of spectators and different protective protocols, some fans are excited about new “virtual participation.”
“Despite the lack of fans, I have been engaged, actually,” said Miles Ward, junior marketing major. “I was concerned it would be a little weird watching without fans, but the level of play and intensity have shown little to no signs of diminishment among the players.”
In an effort to reward loyal fans, the NBA has been selecting fans to be featured on TV coverage of the games.
Many have criticized the return of sporting events, citing the dangers of spreading coronavirus, but other fans are happy for any sort of sporting competition.
“The NBA’s restart was a great occurrence as it gave people a distraction in a time where stress and anxiety are at an all-time high,” said David McKenna, sophomore nursing major.
The restart of professional sports may help pave the way for college sports to do the same.
Jarrod Olson, California Baptist University women’s basketball head coach, said he was “pretty impressed” by the NBA’s creation of the “bubble”.
“The NBA has a reputation for being forward-thinking,” Olson said.
The CBU women’s basketball team, like all other college sports teams, has been trying to find ways to safely train and compete despite coronavirus safety concerns. Some college teams have been trying to mimic the strategy of professional sports leagues by trying to create “bubbles” in which their athletes train and compete, but sometimes that is not feasible for college teams.
CBU has been taking extensive steps to protect its athletes.
“We refer to our team as a ‘bubble’ but it’s not really a bubble because we all can go home,” Olson said. “Resources come into play, but [the NBA season restart] shows that if you want to find ways to play you can find ways to play.”
Regardless of differences between professional and college sports, the NBA season restart helps provide a framework for college teams to start practicing and playing again.