COVID Cases Rising Across The Sports Landscape | Are Shutdowns And Modified Schedules Coming?

The NBA postponed the Chicago Bulls’ next two games due to 10 players being in health and safety protocols. The number of players in the league in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols this season is up to 46 and league officials expect that number to increase into the new year.

COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide as people gather indoors for the holiday season, plus the spread of the new Omicron variant is just starting.

Are we heading towards another sports shutdown? Will local ordinances limit the size of indoor gatherings at arenas?

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The seeming return to normalcy on the sports calendars has fooled so many into thinking everything is all good. We are still in the midst of a pandemic that scientists and medical professionals are learning about daily.

Nobody wants to go back to a bubble, or empty arenas and stadiums. But here we are.

The NFL had 37 players test positive on Monday, Dec. 13. The league is mandating a COVID-19 booster shot for all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees. The league and the NFLPA are also discussing booster shot parameters for players.

The NHL postponed the Calgary Flames’ next three games because of COVID issues, and the Carolina Hurricanes have two players and a staffer entering COVID-19 protocol.

Across the pond, the English Premier League has postponed multiple matches in the past two weeks due to outbreaks.

The four North American leagues all tout a 90 percent and higher vaccination rate, which is higher than the US vaccination rate. Currently more than 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is about 60 percent of the eligible population.

The NBA has encouraged all eligible players and team staff to receive booster shots. According to reports, about 200 players have received booster shots and that number is expected to climb. The league set a Dec. 17 deadline for players who are eligible to get the booster.

Eligible players who don’t receive the booster will face stricter protocols, including game-day testing. Staffers who haven’t received booster shots by Dec. 17 will face restrictions on their interactions with players, on-court access and team travel.

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All four leagues are in a better position than last season to combat COVID outbreaks, as they have prior experience to lean on. But things change rapidly with this virus, as we’ve all learned over the past 21 months.

Fans should prepare themselves for the unexpected. If leagues are mandating boosters for employees and players, it won’t be long before many arenas/stadiums under local ordinances require the same.

It is clear how quickly the virus can spread and mutate. Everyone must continue to remain vigilant if you want to continue to enjoy sports. Get vaccinated and boosted when you’re eligible, wear masks, and adhere to the recommendations by the CDC.

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Of course there are still breakthrough cases, but all the data, research, and science says the more protection (vaccination and booster) you have, the less likely you are to contract the virus, get really sick, and die.

Christmas is around the corner and the NBA season kicks into another gear, the NFL playoffs are near, as is the College Football Playoff, one of the high marks on the sporting calendar. We should be able to enjoy it.

But enjoying sports is not a right. It’s a reward for a functioning society.

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