Once sports started getting cancelled mid-March due to the coronavirus, many organizations set a date of return. Sports organizations were hopeful to finish their seasons or for some cases, to start them. But as we reached these return dates, many, if not all, had to be extended.
One of the dates that we have not reached is the NBA’s; they set their return date to mid-June. The NBA was about to start playoffs when COVID-19 began to quickly spread in the United States. Their first option was to move forward with the playoffs without fans, only allowing essential staff in the arena.
These plans were quickly discarded when Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. After this instance, the NBA decided to suspend the season indefinitely.
After more than a month under very strict quarantine orders, restrictions have begun to be lifted. Parks have started to open and beaches are no longer closed. This openings still have their limitations as we still have to follow certain guidelines such as maintaining a safe distance and wearing facemasks.
These modified restrictions show that slowly but surely, the United States and the world are trying to go back to normal. And part of this normal is getting a chance to once again enjoy your favorite sports.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has yet updated the public on whether or not the NBA will resume its season at some point. But it is safe to say that this will probably be one of his most important decisions ever. This is because there are many variables that affect his decision and many considerations and compromises he will have to evaluate.
Plans for Return
A possible option for the NBA is to follow UFC’s steps and continue their games with no fans. On May 9th, the UFC had a matchup between Francis Ngannou and Jair Rozenstruik with an empty arena. Only the athletes, coaching staff and essential staff were allowed into the building. This match showed great success as one of the few live sports that occurred during these quarantine times.
Issues with a Return with No Fans
Amount of people needed is still risky
While it may have worked for the UFC, an NBA game in an empty arena with only essential staff still involves a lot of people. Each team alone has at least 15 people in the roster plus a coaching staff of five people or more if you include trainers.
“1500 people is what we think you would need. From the hotel maid… to the public service addresser to the 15th man in the roster. ” said NBA Beat reporter Brian Windhorst.
Difficulties in Logistics
Because of the amount of people needed, the NBA would still have to take precautions to ensure the safety of the players and staff. Windhorst explains a detailed example of a measure they would have to take.
Affect on Players
Just like many employees around the world, athletes saw their paychecks reduce. This is because with no games, there is no revenue, and without that revenue it is difficult to pay many million-dollar contracts.
Having games requires many expenses including traveling expenses and earning money to pay for all of that plus all of the players’ contracts in full with no revenue from fans seems difficult, if not impossible.
But having these games televised definitely shines a light on that issue. Broadcasting these games could definitely generate some income that could allow their salaries to slowly go back to normal. This could serve as a motive for the players to come back — if their love and passion for the sport was not enough.
A factor that could keep the players from returning before all quarantine restrictions have been lifted is their families. Everyone has been affected differently by the coronavirus and athletes are certainly not the exception. Some players might decide to stay with their families through this difficult situation until it is completely over.
Windhorst’s Take on Resuming the Season
Windhorst’s biggest advice for Silver is to not rush the process. He prefers that he focuses on doing everything right and taking the appropriate measures to ensure a safe return.