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How the NBA is distancing itself from the Coronavirus

Small precautions to avoid big problems

How the NBA is distancing itself from the Coronavirus Small precautions to avoid big problems

After the first death caused by the Coronavirus in Washington, general panic is also exploding in the USA, causing chain reactions that have also affected the main North American sports championships. Health officials are informing the NBA, NHL and MLB teams by advising to consult regularly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the evolution of COVID-19.

The turnover, especially in the NBA (as well as the sports league with the highest revenue in the world), does not allow plans for the cancellation or postponement of the games, much less one could think of playing games in empty arenas and, although there are already have been examples in other sports - see in the Italian football Serie A - the American professional ones are now proceeding without particular hitches, obviously with constant monitoring of the situation, as stated directly by the NBA: "The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is essential''.

Among the short-term recommendations to the teams, the NBA advises players to avoid the high-five with fans and avoid taking items such as pens, balls and jerseys to autograph them.

Among the major concerns addressed in the NBA front office and at the League headquarters, there is the possibility that international scouting events, such as the Hoop Summit in Portland in April, and the Chicago Draft Combine in May, events that host hundreds of players, coaches, professionals and medical personnel, may become more limited in scope, or even be canceled on the basis of the possible escalation of the outbreak.

Some players are already taking NBA advice to heart; Jimmy Butler said he wasn't necessarily worried or intent on avoiding contact with fans: "I don't think about it", said Butler. "I will still be who I am. We will still be who we are". CJ McCollum of Trail Blazers tweeted over the weekend about taking precautions and that for the moment he will only take a break from signing autographs, while Kemba Walker has said Monday that he will be cautious "I will still sign some autographs, but I will simply go around with my marker".


On the night between Sunday 8 and Monday 9 March, the NBA held a teleconference that involved all the League franchises and in particular their medical staff, advising him to organize teams of psychologists and virologists able to inform those players who might be scared the spread of the virus giving him a clearer idea of ​​the risks they are taking and the precautions to be taken. The NBA has already blocked access to locker rooms for all the people who are not indispensable to the team, for example preventing journalists who can usually enter the locker rooms up to a quarter of an hour before the start of the race and from a quarter of an hour after the end of the same.

Today, however, there will be a conference between the NBA and the 30 team owners to put on the table different solutions to be implemented depending on the seriousness of the situation that you will be forced to face from here in the short term: rumors say that the choice that will be taken over time will be to play games behind closed doors, to prevent 10-15-20 thousand people from being in close contact, mostly indoors, but they will be decisions that will depend on the location of the cities in relation to the spread of the virus, so much so that another proposal could be to transfer the matches that should be played in the cities most affected by the infection to areas where the situation is less complicated from a health point of view.


The interesting part, and very different from the European-football management, is that, according to the contract between NBPA (the players association) and the NBA, in case of games behind closed doors the owners of the teams could retain 1% of the salaries of the players, so that they are not the only ones to pay the consequences of this pandemic. Furthermore, next year's salary cap, which is decided at the end of the sporting season based on revenue (which also includes tickets sold, merchandising, and everything that revolves around the event itself) of the season just ended, will also be involved. : if the revenues of this current year were to decrease, there would be a consequent lowering of the salary cap and therefore of the salaries of the players.

It seems that some franchises, for fear of remaining already from the next games with the semi-deserted buildings, have started to sell seats on their ticketing sites: on StubHub yesterday it was already possible to buy tickets for the Warriors (which play in San Francisco, one of the most affected areas in North America) at $ 23 and those of Pacers, Wizards, OKC Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers under $ 8, particularly affordable prices if you consider the seasonal average prices that are around $ 250.

In the meantime, the attitude of the players, initially wary of the gravity of the spread of COVID-19, is also changing: LeBron James, who in recent days had declared that he did not intend to play with arenas behind closed doors, has been behind- front and admitted that he will respect any decision made by the League: "Obviously, I would be very disappointed not to have fans, because that's why I play but you have to listen to people who are well aware of what's going on, and if they think it's better for the safety of the players, the security of the franchise, the security of the league, then we will all listen to it ".

Last night the Turkish center of the Celtics Enes Kanter took the field reminding everyone, through a writing on their shoes, one of the fundamental steps to avoid the spread of the virus: WASH YOUR HANDS.

Victor Mather of the New York Times noted that the Coronavirus epidemic has raised concerns around the world of sports, particularly around the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said that "officials could consider canceling the event, which begins on July 24, if the situation improves".

Hoping that the media chaos created in our country will not be imitated, we just have to wait for developments from the rest of the world, with the hope that the management of the virus, and of sporting events, will be applied with greater common sense.