With NFL training camps about to kick off around the country, all four major sports will mark their return in the era of COVID-19. While the NBA and NHL finish their seasons inside a bubble that locks out the visitors, the NFL will allow their players to police themselves, much like the plan the MLB instituted for their 2020 season.
While local teams living in the bubble, such as the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, have remained COVID-19 free, Major League Baseball has dealt with several outbreaks wreaking havoc on their return to the field.
MLB’s failure to control the virus has undoubtedly shown the NFL the challenge that lies ahead for all 30 teams. Teams like the Denver Broncos are turning to technological advances to keep players safe upon returning to the practice facility in preparation for training camp.
Denver Broncos Turn To Technology To Fight COVID-19
The video drew mockery from scientists as many believe that contact transfer of COVID-19 is rare. Epidemiologists argue the main risk for players is through airborne transmission, and the spray does nothing to help prevent that method of infection.
NFL players have until Thursday to opt-out of the 2020 season due to health concerns. While several notable players have already exercised their right to skip the season, including eight New England Patriots, the Broncos’ roster has remained mostly intact. Just two Broncos, Kyle Peko and Ja’Wuan James, have chosen to miss the upcoming 2020 campaign.
Colorado Rockies Avoid Virus Trouble Plaguing MLB
The dumpster fire of Major League Baseball’s last two weeks certainly provides the NFL a cautionary tale to avoid. Over the first ten days of the 2020 MLB season, three clubs dealt with outbreaks of coronavirus.
Rumors of players hitting the hotel bar, the local nightclub, and even casinos began to filter through as positive coronavirus tests popped up with the Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Cardinals were the latest team to find themselves engulfed in a full-blown outbreak as 13 players and staff members tested positive last weekend for COVID-19.
With multiple teams having to quarantine, the league’s schedule fell into upheaval with Commissioner Rob Manfred suggesting that not all teams would likely complete a full 60-game season.
After seeing a few positive test results during the summer camp buildup, the Colorado Rockies have avoided the outbreaks that plagued other clubs. Star center fielder Charlie Blackmon contracted the virus in June, but has recovered and returned to the field. The healthy Rockies currently lead the National League West with eight wins in their first ten games, allowing just 3.2 runs per game.
One of the early criticisms of Major League Baseball revolved around the delays in getting coronavirus results quickly after testing. The lack of prompt testing results caused canceled practices and players to sit out as they waited for clearance.
After the outbreaks, the league has revamped its strategies to help players stay safe and on the field.
At the forefront of MLB’s renewed effort is quicker test results. Jake Diekman, Oakland Athletics pitcher, said on the testing, “I mean, it’s a night and day difference. (Testing) was hot garbage at the beginning of this. It was terrible. And then now, it’s great. We get test results so fast… Again, I just think it’s the teams that keep themselves accountable the most about staying somewhat in this bubble will be the best moving forward at the end of September.”
Nuggets and Avalanche Enjoy Bubble Bliss
The NBA’s return to a bubble environment in Orlando has been a smashing success. Playing under wraps at the Walt Disney World’s expansive sports complex, the NBA announced Wednesday that all 343 players tested negative for the third consecutive round of COVID-19 tests.
Nuggets starting big man Nikola Jokic had tested positive for the virus in his native Serbia in late June, but has since tested negative and rejoined the team in action in time for the season’s start.
The Nuggets continue to fight for a higher playoff seed, hoping to overtake the Los Angeles Clippers for the second seed in the Western Conference. The playoffs begin on August 17 and, if the Nuggets make it through the first round, the team can welcome a limited number of visitors starting on August 30.
Much like the NBA, the NHL’s playoffs have begun in earnest under the bubble environment in Toronto and Edmonton. The Avalanche are in Edmonton with the rest of the Western Conference teams.
NHL teams can carry up to 52 players and staff members in the bubble. Like the NBA, the bubble has protected players as the league reported no positive coronavirus tests over the first week of games.
The Avalanche avoided the qualifying round by being one of the top four teams in the West. The team is playing in a round-robin with the three other teams to establish seeding for the first playoff round bracket to begin on August 11.