Pro Sports Return with Mixed Results

Daniel Garrison, Sports Editor

The sports world has finally reopened after months of shutdown due to COVID-19.

The NBA, NHL, and MLB have finally begun playing again without fans in attendence. 

The NBA and NHL have created isolated bubbles in Orlando and Toronto/Edmonton respectively.  Only players, coaches, and media are allowed inside the bubble. These bubbles have been successful so far in that weeks into play, nobody inside the bubbles has tested positive in either league.

The MLB has returned to play without a bubble and with different results.

NBA

Twenty-two teams finished their regular seasons in Orlando and 16 have moved on to the playoffs, which started on Aug. 17. 

The playoffs look different than ever before. In addition to the arenas being empty for the first time, players are tested regularly for COVID-19.

Living in the bubble, in addition to not playing for months, has forced players to adapt. Many have gone extended periods of time without seeing their families. Three-time champion LeBron James called this championship run “the toughest of his career.”

The general consensus, however, is that the NBA restart has been a success. 

“The games have been as entertaining as ever and no one in the bubble has tested positive for COVID,” senior Brennan Weller said. “I think they are doing a great job of spreading awareness for the social justice movement by using their platform to reach out to all of their viewers. 

NHL

The NHL has set up two bubbles. The Western conference teams play in Edmonton, while the Eastern conference teams play in Toronto.  The NHL has not had a positive COVID-19 test since resuming play on July 30.

Since then, teams played in a round robin tournament to finish the regular season. The top four seeds in each conference played each other to determine playoff seeding. The next eight highest regular season teams played in a five game series to qualify for the playoffs.  The winners advanced to play the top four teams.

The playoffs will continue in normal seven-game series. 

The second round of the playoffs have started.  Every top four team advanced through the first round except for the Washington Capitals and the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. 

While the league has continued play without spreading the virus, some people believe the playoffs just are not as exciting without fans.

“[The absence of fans] does change the atmosphere,” senior Adam Leston said , “but at the same time I think before we allow fans, cases have to go back down… with no fans I don’t think that this championship has the same value as others.”

MLB

The MLB season experienced weeks of delay due to players, owners, and league executives being unable to agree on a format for the season. The players refused to play in a bubble, and disagreement on the length of the regular season ensued.  An agreement was finally made on a 60-game regular season without a bubble. Teams would play in their own cities and stadiums on July 23.

Multiple teams, including the St. Louis Cardinals, have missed games due to COVID-19 outbreaks within the team. Consequently the league has been criticized for not doing enough to protect its players.

“I do think that the MLB has done a good job with getting baseball to be played,” junior Ryan Watts said. “However, I think that it has not done as good of a job as the other major sports with the NBA being the lead example.”

Large MLB rosters, in addition to disagreements in negotiations, made a bubble impossible to implement.

“Unfortunately [a bubble] would lead to a mass of players opting out, including the biggest starts like Mike Trout, who would have opted out due to his child being born during the first week of the season,” Watts said. 

Many believe the reduced schedule was the best possible outcome, and everything possible has been done to protect the players. 

“They have dealt really well with the teams that have unfortunately had COVID outbreaks within their system,” Watts said . “The Marlins were the first team and only had to delay a couple games before they could get back onto the field. The Cardinals had a very large outbreak on the team, but everyone is back and healthy while back on the field.”