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Are Bubbles the Safest Way to Resume Sports?

With the return of the MLB and NBA seasons, it is evident that various sports leagues have taken different measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The NBA, for example, has decided to finish its entire season in an isolated “bubble” in Orlando. The NBA has also set up other procedures such as frequent COVID-19 testing and more leniency in picking up free agents if players get sick. 

The MLB, after finally starting up its shortened season this past week, has taken a different approach than the NBA. While the MLB has also released a list of eligible free agents who can be used as replacements, one noticeable difference is that the MLB is allowing players to travel for various home and away games. Although the MLB has shortened its season from 162 to 60 games, players are still being put at risk to contract this virus.

Problems with this are already starting to arise for the MLB as 17 players and coaches on the Miami Marlins have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past five days. This is not just a problem for the Marlins, but a problem for the entire league as the Marlins faced off against the Phillies on Friday and it is very likely that it spread. As a result, MLB games are beginning to get postponed for the Marlins and the Phillies.

While a few games getting postponed here and there isn’t too much of an issue for the MLB, the concern for them is multiple teams contracting and quickly spreading COVID-19 without even knowing. As evident in the Marlins game against the Phillies, it can be very easy for infected individuals to fly under-the-radar and play games before their test results come in.

Although the NBA is at a similar risk as the MLB in infected players playing games unnoticed, the NBA’s “bubble” will make it significantly easier to pinpoint the spread of the virus and quarantine players. With this, it doesn’t seem like multiple NBA teams will become infected at the same time. 

As also seen in the UFC’s Fight Island, bubbles can be effective ways to track the spread of COVID-19. With restricted travel for players (and people entering the bubble), new outbreaks of COVID-19 are not very likely to happen in these areas. Contrarily, as MLB players are traveling back-and-forth between games, they are increasing the chances of new outbreaks.

With the MLB already facing problems in less than a week of starting up and the NFL’s confirmation of its 2020 season, sports leagues face a lot of potential challenges in making it through a full season. Although implementing bubbles may not be realistic for every league, it may be the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in sports leagues.

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