Several professional sports teams in the United States — including the NBA, WNBA and MLS — have opted to begin or resume their season in a “bubble city,” a single environment where all teams gather to compete.
And while the utilization of bubble cities has caught steam lately, it appears at least one league isn’t on board with the concept.
According to NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills, the league does not plan on utilizing a bubble city (or cities) for its 2020 season. Instead, Sills says the NFL will rely on strong contract tracing, education and testing measures.
“We do not feel it?s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble,” Sills said Tuesday during a call with reporters, via Pelissero. “Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”
Protocols still remain under development, but Sills believes testing strategies likely will look a bit different between the beginning and end of the season. Anyone exposed to players and coaches, like game officials, are expected to be tested shortly before game day.
Protocols are still being developed, and Sills said it?s very likely the testing strategy will look different from start to end of season as science evolves. Plan is to also test everyone who will be exposed to players and coaches ? e..g. officials ? just prior to game day.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 17, 2020
To its credit, the NFL plans on testing players and staff at least three times a week, and hopes to utilize a saliva test. And NFL doctors have admitted players and staff almost are certain to begin testing positive during the season, but it’ll be how the league responds to a potential outbreak that determines the league and season’s future.
The NFL’s plan could be put to the test sooner rather than later, however.
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Major League Baseball to consider not playing in October out of concern for how a second wave might impact players and staff, especially once flu season begins. The NFL already is scheduled to play in October, leaving some to wonder if they might be in danger of similar fate. And with teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans seeing a spike in cases as Texas continues to record COVID-19 numbers, one has to wonder what might happen if teams without bubble cities in place will face should they travel from city to city each week.
It certainly will be interesting to see how this move pans out in the long run compared to leagues opting to resume play in one or two cities alone.