The Coronavirus has ruined just about everything this year. It seemed like professional sports would be an impossible reality earlier this summer.
However, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association have been a source of good news when everything else in the world seemed to be bad. The NBA and NHL bubbles have been a major success so far, with both leagues having no confirmed Coronavirus cases to report at this time.
Although, some close calls have put the bubbles in jeopardy.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams claimed to leave the bubble once for family matters, but he was spotted at an Atlanta club with rapper Jack Harlow. This was not a good look for the NBA.
The NHL also had a scare when the Tampa Bay Lightning reported positive cases for three players, with an unreported number of cases amongst staff members. However, these reports came back in June prior to teams populating the bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.
Despite these scares, the bubbles have proven to be effective plans. Both leagues have put enough work and attention into detail to make them function as intended.
Waynesburg University junior business management major Isaiah Alonso took a while to agree with this though.
“When it first started, I didn’t think it would work, but the precautions they have taken and the money they have put into it has worked,” Alonso said. “I think they have done a really good job with it.”
It is easy to understand why the NHL and NBA had to prove the bubbles would work. A frequent talking point has been how the players would deal with the bubble life in both leagues.
Mental health has been a focus for the fans watching games at home and, of course, the players living in the bubbles.
Playing games without fans is certainly a negative for both the NHL and the NBA. Fans drive the energy and passion at sporting events, especially when its the playoffs.
Alonso knows how fans can change a game. He started 25 out of 26 games last season for the Waynesburg men’s basketball team, and described the feeling of it.
“You get such a surge of adrenaline pump[ing] through you and you have so many people screaming and cheering at you,” Alonso said. “There’s nothing to keep you going through the game.”
Although it was a relief to see the NHL and the NBA resume, it has been hard to watch all the games, like past years. Following the NBA and NHL playoffs has been more difficult once the fall semester started Aug. 24.
This was also the case for Waynesburg junior marketing major Bryant Bauer.
“When the seeding games were happening, I had to bring my laptop to work,” Bauer said. “I have to juggle a school schedule now to watch. I haven’t been as available to watch the games as I would like to.”
There have been major storylines throughout the 2020 NBA and NHL Playoffs. Some examples include the New York Islanders surprising the NHL by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Philadelphia 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics, exposing their lack of team chemistry, creating doubts as to whether the ‘The Process’ has really worked.
The Coronavirus has been a huge dark spot in 2020, but the NHL and the NBA bubbles have had the last laugh so far.