COVID-19 and Sports Update: Antibody Testing, Pushing Next Season, NFL Plans Normalcy, More

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COVID-19 and Sports Update: Antibody Testing, Pushing Next Season, NFL Plans Normalcy, More

Chicago Cubs

Testing totals were back over 300,000 in the US yesterday, and then approached 300,000 again today. The volume of testing isn’t going to be a straight line up (progress isn’t linear and such), but you like to see the peaks and the valleys keep increasing. The last 10 days have been very encouraging in that regard.

Also … well, I don’t want to say “encouraging,” so I’ll instead just say surprising:

Obviously New York City has been the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States, but there have been just 172,000 confirmed cases reported in NYC to date. If 20% of NYC citizens have actually already been infected, you’re not only talking about 1 in 5 in the city, you’re talking about ten times as many as the reported cases. It’s one study. There are always issues. But this does track with other antibody studies so far that suggest actual infections are far higher than reported cases (which is a good news/bad news situation, depending on your perspective).

I look forward to seeing the results of more antibody studies across the country because, although we don’t want more people to be infected, if more people have already been infected, that’s an encouraging sign about the mortality rate and about progress toward herd immunity (which, by the way, is almost certainly still going to require a vaccine, but every bit helps).

All that said: a reminder to be safe. Even if it is confirmed that far more people have been infected than we expected, the illness can still present incredibly dangerously to many people, and humans are still the vector for spreading it to each other.

Thinking Ahead About Pushing Next Season’s Starts

In conjunction with its official decision to postpone the draft lottery and the draft combine, the NBA has also continued to discuss the possibility of delaying the start of the 2020-21 season:

Recall, there has been chatter for a while about the NBA pushing its regular season to a start closer to Christmas anyway, so this moment might be all that is needed to tip the scales.

By pushing next season to December, the league would simultaneously buy itself more time to finish the current season, and would also likely get next season closer to being safely able to have fans in attendance (at least for a larger chunk of the season). In a world where a COVID-19 vaccine is available by March or April, then a delay to the start of next season could mean only two or three months of no fans in attendance (or limited fans), rather than most or all of the regular season.

This philosophy makes you wonder at what point we’ll see more serious chatter about the NFL pushing its season start back a month or two, and even about MLB considering starting next season a little later than usual. On the latter point, keep in mind, if MLB winds up running this season deep into October and November, they might want to push back Spring Training anyway to get their players some rest. And if it also means fans can attend most of the regular season next year? All the better.

Bubble Concepts and Start Dates

As for when the NBA resumes this year, it very well might be in a “bubble” in Disney World or Las Vegas or somewhere else. Every team in one location, quarantined, and finishing out the season.

Details here, including why it couldn’t start yet (hint: TESTING):

If it can be pulled off, the NBA figures it could complete the regular season in 33 days with almost no back-to-back days. A full and normal postseason, albeit with minimal days off, would take a maximum of 55 days. So, then, you’re talking about a little under three months to pull the whole thing off (and much less if you instead just jumped into a modified postseason). If the league could start in July, and if next season didn’t begin until late December, then it could get in everything and still allow almost three months for the offseason.

As for a bubble concept in the NFL, it is not currently being considered, nor is an immediate alteration to the schedule:

The NFL still plans to release its schedule next week, and plans for it to open up in September. Contingency plans – including the possibility of pushing to mid-October and playing without fans in attendance – will be considered as time goes on, but right now, it sounds like the NFL is planning that everything will be fine and normal and hunky dory in the fall. We’ll see.

Premier League

It’s interesting to follow the machinations of sports and COVID-19 in another country, particularly where the fans are arguably even more nuts about their version of football than Americans are about theirs.

The Premier League in England (soccer/football) is trying to resume its season by mid-June, and neutral sites with no fans is the only way it can happen. But there seems to be considerably less urgency by the players to resume (notably, there hasn’t been a league decision on player compensation, with only a small handful of teams getting their players to even agree to a small percentage of deferrals – good for the players, but you can understand why many would not be quite as eager to push to get back out there).

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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.