Sports are back… for now. With the recent news of the outbreak within the Marlins, people are starting to get concerned about the possibility of completing the MLB season. The NBA and NHL are poised to resume play later this week and look to have a good chance of completing their seasons. The NHL recently completed phase 3 of testing and reported 0 positive results in nearly 5,000 tests. The NBA also had similar results as the NHL. What do those two leagues have in common? They are playing in a bubble. With the NBA in Orlando and NHL in Edmonton and Toronto, they have a great chance to pay out their season. The MLB on the other hand is in jeopardy.
What the NFL needs to do
The NFL has what the three other leagues did not have; time. They have had months to prepare on how to manage play and health concerns. Football, by nature, does not allow for social distance protocols. It is impossible to play football under social distance guidelines. In order to have a chance at playing their season, the NFL needs to find one or two cities to use as hub cities. The MLB has shown that traveling for away games in very dangerous. Limiting travel is one way the NFL can help keep the situation under control.
Problems that may arise
Unlike other sports, the NFL obviously only plays on Sundays and may not have as much schedule flexibility as other leagues. With the physical demands of football, playing games multiple times a week is not possible. So that raises the question of how can the NFL possibly do a hub city or two and play all of the games? One way to do this would be to keep play within divisions and choose one stadium for the whole division to play in. For example, all of the AFC East would play in Foxboro and only play each other. I have no idea if that is even reasonable, but they need to limit travel and having one or two hub cities would not be enough to play all of the games. Without some for of isolation for the players and keeping them in one spot for the season, there may not be football in the fall.
The only time I remember football players following social distance guidelines on the field is when the Patriots left Burress alone in the end zone. Other than that, it is a very close quarters game. The NFL needs to come up with a solution on how to combat this virus. The NHL and NBA have done a great job so far, while the MLB is struggling. Guess which two leagues are playing in a bubble? The NFL needs to adapt some form of bubble system, but it may not be possible to have a season under those conditions. Goodell’s leadership is really being put to the test right now.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)