Sorry soccer players. Your 2020 is not going to be much fun.
Do you want to sit down to dinner inside a restaurant? I wouldn’t. Thinking of having some friends for a party? Bad idea. Do you plan to go to a bar with some teammates to blow off steam? Please no
Doing so could be the source of a COVID-19 outbreak at your team’s facility.
MORE: The NFL coronavirus plan will get ugly, but hopefully it won’t be dangerous
This is not a hypothetical scenario derived from some kind of collective hysteria. It is something that happened in American professional sports. this week.
The Orlando Pride (home to USWNT’s Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Emily Sonnett, as well as Brazilian superstar Marta) was forced to leave the NWSL Challenge Cup after several players and staff tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The Pride outbreak, Athletic reported, probably materialized because few players went to a bar in Orlando.
That night triggered additional tests, which revealed the first case of the COVID-19 team. Finally, six players and four staff members tested positive for the virus.
And a professional sports team had to abandon a competition for that.
I’m heartbroken. Most of our team and staff worked hard to put us in the best position to play the game we love again. Not only for us but for our families, friends, fans and our city. Good luck to the teams going to UT. I wish we were there with you. Stay safe.
– Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) June 22, 2020
It would be foolish and ignorant to think that this could not happen to an NFL team. No one is invincible with this virus for which there is no treatment, cure or vaccine. All it takes is a selfish decision for others to become infected.
And beyond the terrifying health complications that come with COVID-19, which can affect anyone, even the fittest soccer player, an outbreak at an NFL facility could decimate a position group, a coaching staff or even a complete team.
Could it be the point that a team couldn’t play any of its tight ends because they were all exposed to COVID-19? Absolutely. Could it be so bad that a team can’t play a scheduled game because they don’t have enough players to play? You cannot rule it out.
You just can’t.
It is impossible for the NFL to create 32 “bubbles” across the country to isolate players, coaches and essential personnel for at least six months from the end of July. Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that the bubble may be the only way the NFL plays in 2020; However, the league appears to be fully focused on playing a full season amidst the pandemic this fall.
MORE: Fauci’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ COUID-19 vaccine will be available in late 2020 or early 2021
However, in the absence of a true bubble, there must be great trust among the essential men and women who would have been in it. That means players, coaches, and support staff need to be on the same page when it comes to coronavirus precautions both on and off campus. It’s hard to get 100 people to agree on something, but without restrictive bubbles, each NFL team will have to find a way to encourage the necessary group thinking.
Otherwise, the 2020 NFL season will be a competitive disaster at best, and at worst, an irresponsible undertaking for the health and safety of all involved.
All it takes is one person to break that trust and ruin it for everyone. It happened with the Orlando Pride. It could also happen in the NFL.
Click here to download NBC Sports’ new MyTeams app! Receive comprehensive coverage of bears.