COVID-19 and Sports Update: NBA Will Permit Player Testing, NFL Scheduling Flexibility, More

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COVID-19 and Sports Update: NBA Will Permit Player Testing, NFL Scheduling Flexibility, More

Chicago Bulls

I know we keep hearing the anecdotal reports about testing still being in short supply for those who need it, but the national tracking data indicates that we are actually getting to a level of testing where we can start to have our hands around the actual scope of the virus spread (under 10% of total tests have come back positive over the past four days). How can both of those things be true at once?

Well, my best guess is that it means some areas of the country have plenty of testing available to anyone who needs it, while other areas of the country still do not have enough. That would certainly track with the way the pandemic has been treated in this country (minimal nationally-coordinated response, almost entire reliance on local response, including the sourcing of testing, PPE, etc.).

So, then, it probably is inaccurate to say we now “have enough testing capacity” in the United States, because you need that capacity everywhere to really be able to say you can track the virus well enough to open things up. Some areas, though, are clearly doing better on this front than others.

NBA Will Permit Asymptomatic Testing in Some Cases

To that end, a huge report from Adrian Wojnarowski:

The reason this decision is so huge is that you cannot possibly bring sports back safely *UNTIL* you can prophylactically test players and personnel that do not appear sick. We know that the novel coronavirus can spread among people who aren’t showing signs of sickness, which means, if you’re going to be in close quarters training alongside other people, you have to know – with confidence and with immediacy – who is carrying the virus.

So, then, in localities where there is enough supply of testing not to take any away from those who most need it, the NBA is saying, yes, teams, you are permitted to source and use tests for your own purposes.

This is the PR risk that was always looming for all sports, and the NBA is just going first. On the one hand, it’s a necessary step to protect players and employees. On the other hand, it’s not like every business can go out and get prophylactic testing (which would help protect their employees, too). We’ll see how this shakes out in the public eye, because I guarantee all other sports are watching very closely.

One other note on NBA teams opening practice facilities:

Super Bowl Flexibility Means Schedule Flexibility

Super Bowl LV is currently scheduled for February 7, 2021, and it – like the rest of the just-dropped schedule – is unchanged right now by the pandemic.

But the league is keeping open the possibility for enormous flexibility in when the Super Bowl is actually played:

Because the Super Bowl is just one game, it’s relatively easy to push it back a week, or two, or eight if necessary. Thus, because the marquee event is so pliable, the NFL has the flexibility to push back the start of its season by upwards of two months without really causing any serious issues – the early-season games would just be shifted to the back half of the schedule.

Although Adam Schefter’s report does not make this point explicitly, I will: if the league is insistent on having *some* fans at their games for at least *some* of the season, then they are almost assured of having to push back as much of the season into next year as possible. Get ready for an NFL regular season that runs through February, and a wholllllle lot of cold weather games.

Love From Asia

Fans have shown up in Taiwan:

Thank you, KBO:

To the extent you want your mask of choice to be team-branded, here you go:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.