As a flurry of players decided to opt-out by the NFL deadline of August 6th, a level of uncertainty rose throughout the league’s fanbase over whether a season would even be held. As evident by the total shutdown of all major sports leagues in mid-spring, a postponement, or even a complete cancellation would certainly be viable.
Adding more unease was the crushing blows of many athletic conferences postponing their own seasons, including the Pac-12 and the Big-10. Adding onto to this is the fact that the United States is currently leading the rest of the world in confirmed COVID cases and deaths.
However, the National Football League isn’t on its own. The NBA’s successful restart after months of postponement should be a template for the NFL’s plans heading into the fall. Under the quick-witted leadership of commissioner Adam Silver, the league was able to create a “bubble” in which players would be able to play out the remainder of their season, isolated from the general population. Strict quarantine rules were put in place, as players were required to stay in the bubble until their team was eliminated in the playoff race.
The NBA, currently entering the second round of its playoffs, has yet to report a single case of the coronavirus ever since the restart. Its success has proved to the world that measures can be taken to ensure the safety of athletes amid the pandemic.
To do this, the league will have to overcome a few challenges. For one, they cannot create a single bubble like the NBA did in Orlando. In the NBA’s case, the season was already at its conclusion, so not all teams had to come to the bubble- only those in the playoff race. The NFL can create a “regional bubble” to accommodate teams in each specific division, where they would play amended schedules. This would solve the space issue.
If the NFL is to have any chance of having a normal season, it must mimic the methods which the NBA utilized to create a unique system. Although it will be on a much larger scale, with countless more moving parts, I truly believe the NFL can allocate enough time and resources to solve its issue.
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