the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Rhys Marschke ‘24
Photo Credit: David B. Newman
The coronavirus outbreak has impacted professional sports around our country in a variety of ways. On March 11 the professional basketball season had come to a sudden halt after Rudy Gobert was infected, the first player to do so. The virus quickly spread as the league became more and more exposed to the virus, with 351 recorded cases among players and 10 recorded cases among staff.
For nearly three months, the world was without the National Basketball League (NBA), and fans were waiting for statements from the league about its intentions for the tail end of the regular season and the postseason. On June 4 the NBA released its plan to revamp the NBA basketball season on July 22. The NBA decided to set up a "bubble" in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, where teams played behind closed doors with no fans but only the players and teams’ personnel.
Twenty-two of the 30 NBA teams were invited to this bubble to finish the last eight games of their season and participate in the playoffs. The teams were split into three different residences near the arenas in Orlando, with higher-seeded teams in the “nicer” places. Despite several players leaving the bubble, the virus has yet to reach anyone in the bubble since players were to go through a washout period before returning to the bubble.
The NBA is currently three games into the final playoff series of the year, the NBA Finals, with no cases in the bubble. The success of the bubble system is something that has come to the attention of basketball fans globally. But more importantly, they were just glad to have basketball back in their lives and to get the chance to watch the most exhilarating and preeminent part of the NBA season. As we are in the middle of the NBA Finals right now, basketball fans have every reason to be happy.
Another major sports league, the National Hockey League (NHL), took a similar approach to restart its season. They rolled right into the postseason in a bubble in Toronto where they played the end of their season. Teams participated in seeding games to determine playoff seeding. The Stanley Cup recently finished up, with the Toronto Maple Leafs being crowned as the best team in hockey after beating the Dallas Stars in six games. Along with the NBA, the virus did not reach the hands of anyone associated with the league, and they had the chance to finish off another successful season, despite these bizarre and unpredictable times.
Switching gears to football, the National Football League (NFL) had several cases of coronavirus only four weeks into the new season. The NFL has decided to play a "normal" season, with limited spectators at games. They hardly released any statements regarding the virus or the state of the league. A quarter of the way through the season, players like Cam Newton, the star quarterback for the New England Patriots, have tested positive for COVID-19 along with 16 Tennessee Titans and many more players across a few teams. This has forced the league to postpone games, which could put the traditional Thursday, Sunday and Monday NFL games to sleep. Fans who tune in week after week to watch their favorite teams are excited that football is back, but fans have every right to be worried about the league they know and love.
Considering these unprecedented times that require courage and perseverance, professional sports leagues around the country are working relentlessly to put on a show for their fans, despite the level of anomaly they will reach. As players of all sports leagues are gearing up every day and doing what they love through these circumstances, people across the world are merely thankful that they have the chance to watch their favorite players and teams play, regardless of all the unpredictability. What could this mean for leagues and the die-hard fans that tune in week after week? Hopefully, we will find out soon.