How soon, through what means can professional sports resume? New isolation plans from MLB, NHL and NBA excite fans but leave ethical concerns


Madison Hummer

Professional sport leagues consider isolation plans for resuming games as fast as possible. But how effective and practical are they?

Sports fans are desperate for some of their favorite sports to resume, and the leagues are in the same boat. The three major American sports leagues that are currently put on hold have all floated out similar ideas that would help resume each season as soon as May.

The idea that has picked up the most traction is Major League Baseball’s. Jeff Passan reported earlier in the week that the league would turn Phoenix into baseball’s home during the pandemic. 

With many professional spring training facilities, there would be enough space for all teams to play games. Players, coaches and essential staff members for each team would be quarantined in hotels, only leaving to go to the ballparks.

On top of that, these players would still be required to follow social distancing rules, sitting six feet apart in the stands – instead of sitting in the dugout.

The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League have similar ideas, with the NHL discussing a similar plan but in North Dakota and ideas being floated over to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about isolating all teams and players in Las Vegas.

Obviously, these all bring up some serious questions. For each of these sports, social distancing isn’t feasible. For the NBA and NHL, they are contact sports. While the MLB is not, these players are still sharing a ball. Not to mention that many tendencies players have don’t adhere to social distancing guidelines, such as chewing tobacco, spitting seeds and things that make the game fun, such as cool handshakes and fun celebrations.

Figuratively speaking, this wouldn’t be a problem if all players are tested before this transition starts, and they all isolate properly. But other ethical questions arise, including why should thousands of tests be sent out for sports organizations when sick Americans are still struggling to get tested every day? 

With the number of tests for players, personnel and staff that would be needed for just one of these sports to resume, it’s hard to justify sports getting these tests over the average individual who may need one.

In the latest NBA proposal, part of it was a new method of testing that gave results in minutes and only needed a prick of a finger. This still raises ethical questions, but it is another step forward.

Despite all of these proposals, it seems like there are too many issues to have sports resume in such a short amount of time. 

No matter how hard sports organizations try, the main priority is the safety of all. Resuming sports before the COVID-19 pandemic is better controlled and treated is just not worth the risk.

Nobody is sure how long this state of concern and social distancing will last, but it is likely sports will not resume until this lockdown is over.