When the MLB returned on July 23rd, they were the first professional sports league in the United States to resume regular season after the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Despite a great deal of public scrutiny and criticism of their decision to play, the MLB weathered the storm and the World Series capped this bizarre season with a 4-2 series win by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite making it to the end of the season, the struggle with Covid-19 continued into the playoffs, and while the regular season ran relatively smoothly compared to that of other pro organizations like the NFL, many teams suffered unfortunate road blocks.
The first Covid outbreak in the MLB came a little more than a week in when the Miami Marlins suffered a major outbreak. The Marlins confirmed 20 positive cases with 18 of them being diagnosed in players. The Marlin’s games were shut down for a week and when they finally returned, they had to rely heavily on their backup player pool.
The Marlins weren’t alone. The Phillies, Cardinals, and Reds also suffered crucial outbreaks shorty after beginning the season. To make up for lost playing time, many teams had to play double headers every day. The stress of this breakneck schedule amidst the pandemic made it hard on the staff and difficult for teams to string wins together: Enter the experimental, but now highly-praised, bubble system.
“The bubble system is the best thing for sports right now. Everyone is safe and live sports can take place,” said by a senior baseball player at Fair Lawn High school.
The bubble is effectively exactly what it sounds like; it is a network designed to restrict player and staff movement and limit access to players by any non-essential personnel. Team players and staff quarantine in hotels when not on the field and are forbidden to make contact with outsiders while being tested frequently for the virus. Despite these heavy restrictions, many agree that the bubble system is likely the safest option for sports right now, as evidenced by a successful completion of the truncated MLB season.
“I think it is a great idea to use [the bubble] since the NHL and NBA had such great success with it,” said an FLHS junior.
The NBA and NHL have already begun using the bubble system ever since the return of sports earlier this year. Thus far, it has proven an incredibly successful system. The NBA and NHL bubble had no major outbreaks during months of on-going games. Given this continued success, it is likely the bubble will be seen a lot more moving forward in sports. Whether this model could even extend to the collegiate or high school level is an interesting question gaining more traction.
“I think they should add a bubble to the NFL postseason, for their safety. Players are very important for the postseason,” said by another baseball player at Fair Lawn High School.
ESPN has also recently confirmed that there have been no positive tests in either the NHL or NBA bubble system. The NFL however, which is not using the bubble system, has struggled a great deal with containing Covid.
“I think they (sports) could be back to normal in two to three years. But all of the sports teams around the U.S. are just going to take slow steps, to becoming a regular sports season,” said a senior at Fair Lawn High School.