The weird and wonderful world of the NBA bubble

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 5, 2020, 12:25 AM | comments: 0

Just a few miles from my house, the National Basketball Association created what has become to be known as "the NBA bubble." In short, the league created a detailed protocol that allowed them to finish the season, fulfill their media contracts and keep athletes safe during this time. It has been wildly successful.

The NBA is of course a private organization that has a fair amount of money to throw around. It was able to rent out a substantial portion of Walt Disney World and its hotel rooms and competition space. It could afford to test everyone involved on a frequent basis. It could provide the necessary protective gear for everyone involved. It could even fine the millionaire players who did not comply with the protocol.

One could reasonably argue that the NBA's playoff season was not a necessary thing, and one would be correct in that assessment. But it did what government and private individuals could not do. It looked at the science, designed a system, stuck to it, and did the work. It didn't look at it as a political problem or one of personal freedom. It worked with the player's union to find a way to mutually benefit everyone and play a game, even though it really didn't matter much in the overall scope of things.

And then, in the middle of it all, the civil rights crisis got serious again, and with a player staff that leans heavily toward people of color, the NBA stood with its players and amplified the protest, painting "black lives matter" on the floor of the courts.

Many weeks later, these sweaty guys are playing together (in a sport hilariously considered "non contact") in the finals. There were no outbreaks, and Lebron can keep flopping all over looking for the fouls he didn't get, just as usual.

This is why the pandemic is so infuriating. It's not that we as a society can't figure out how to live with this virus until we can eradicate it, it's that we choose not to. It's easier to put people at risk and let another hundred thousand people die even though we know at this point how to minimize the risk and death. Yesterday I went for takeout, and it was like a stopping at a place a in January (mind you, the restaurant staff was properly masked), with everyone talking about as if everything was totally OK.

What a strange world when professional sports leads the way.


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