NBA Trouble Without the Bubble


With all the health and safety precautions, the NBA clears courts in order to prevent future spreads of the virus

When COVID-19 first started affecting the United States at the beginning of 2020, everyone was shocked, scared and uptight, including the National Basketball Association (NBA). In order to have a season, it created a bubble, constantly tested players and enforced numerous restrictions and rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In general, the league was praised for its response, with only a few players contracting or spreading the virus.

But as the second season amid the pandemic came along, the NBA loosened their restrictions regarding COVID-19. Not only is there no longer a bubble, but players are also not wearing masks. This has caused the coronavirus to spread among many teams, and several have had to postpone or cancel games due to the number of players testing positive. Many say that the league expected this might happen, which is why they only released information for the first half of the season.

In addition to concerns about player safety regarding COVID-19, there is also concern that players may be at higher risk for injury. Marc Stein, a sports reporter for The New York Times, states, “One [problem] that [Philadelphia Coach Doc] Rivers has mentioned frequently is the risk for overuse injuries on teams that have to play with skeleton squads, since the NBA’s eight-man minimum was not designed with a pandemic in mind.”

If players are more likely to be injured, game-day rosters have the potential to become extremely limited, even more so than they are now. This is something for the league to keep in mind if they want to proceed with this season successfully. Because of all of these problems currently facing the NBA, many argue for the return of the bubble that was used last season to keep players, coaches and staff safe.

Boston Latin School student Adele Orellana (II) says, “Having a bubble last season was the better choice because it just made things safer altogether.” Orellana is not alone in her call for a bubble. Although fans want to see their teams play, several have expressed worry for the safety of all those involved in the NBA.

One of the league’s biggest reservations about going back to a bubble is the large amount of money and inconvenience involved in doing so. The NBA has not generated as much revenue this season compared to pre-pandemic seasons due to the absence of fans at games. The safety and health of the players, however, must be the priority.

Although many of the players are in good health and aren’t affected by COVID-19 symptoms, the long-term effects that the disease can have on the body are still up in the air. There is a lot unknown about the virus, so it’s not worth risking the potential health issues for players later on.

Furthermore, the behavior of the league isn’t setting a good example for those who watch at home. Loosening the COVID-19 restrictions sends out a message to others that the pandemic is getting better and that things are returning to normal, but everyone has to face the reality that COVID-19 is still here.

Because of the disaster that has resulted from the NBA’s choices regarding COVID-19 this season, the league announced many changes to their safety guidelines last week. Some of these guidelines include mandatory face coverings for players while on the bench, in the locker rooms and during conditioning. Players are also no longer allowed to interact with those outside of the team while staying in hotels.

It is unclear what the penalties for violating these new guidelines will be. Even after these new rules, Chris Mannix, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, says that “a bubble doesn’t solve everything. But it’s been proven to allow the league to safely finish a season.” Despite the financial burden and inconvenience of placing NBA teams into a bubble, it seems like the best option.

Given the amount of attention the NBA has and the number of people affected by their choices, action should’ve been taken sooner. As this season continues, it gets harder to respect, let alone remember, the hard work and safety measures the NBA was previously praised for.