While the players do bear some responsibility, they are operating within a framework that is bound to fail. What’s happening in Major League Baseball is just a microcosm of what’s happening across America. This country’s response to the coronavirus has been disastrous because of poor, incompetent leadership at the national and state levels. More than 4.6 million Americans have become infected with the coronavirus. Basic safety precautions have been manipulated into a political issue. What hope does sports have in trying to coexist with this pandemic?
The NBA’s example certainly has fooled people in some other sports into thinking that coexistence is easy. But the NBA’s success has to do with exhaustive preparation, extraordinary leadership from Commissioner Adam Silver, and a lot of luck. The NBA reportedly spent $150 million to develop the bubble. While that won’t make the projected loss of $1 billion in revenue related to ticket sales sting any less, pro basketball has proved that there is an effective way to play sports in this pandemic if you’re committed to safety.
Creating a plan for a restart was likely simpler for the NBA because, when Silver suspended the season in March, the playoffs were only about a month away. The league didn’t have to manage a full season’s worth of games. Selling players on staying inside a bubble at Walt Disney World for a few months was easier than if they had to be away from home for more of the year.