Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged in Philadelphia 76ers fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
In recent weeks, waves of NBA players have entered the league’s health and safety protocols. The absences are swelling so significantly that various games have been canceled because teams don’t have the minimum number of players available to actually play.
The sentiment from fans about how the NBA has dealt with all of this is, well, mixed.
In this week’s SB Nation Reacts, 40 percent of voters want the league to play as many games as possible, while another 38 percent want to pause games for 10 days and the final 12 percent think the season should be outright suspended.
My feelings toward the NBA’s handling of all this is not mixed whatsoever. I think the league has done an atrocious job and is risking public health by continuing to play these games as COVID rages across the country. And when I say “the league,” I mean everyone with decision-making power. I’m aware the NBPA agrees to these terms and the players want to play games. But the NBA is much more than just players, coaches, executives, etc.
There are thousands of underpaid workers across the country who help make games possible every night and have little to no say in these games continuing to happen or the shaping of the league’s safety protocols. Many of them do not have the financial security or living situation to simply miss work, quarantine and deal with contracting COVID — not that I’m saying players and coaches do either.
Yes, these workers must be vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean they’re not at risk, nor should the bar for “risk” be hospitalization or serious health setbacks — especially because so many of the long-term effects of this virus remain unknown.
They shouldn’t have to risk their health to work and be financially stable to afford basic human necessities. That’s not a dilemma confined to the NBA, but a widespread one stemming from the capitalism’s unsavory drive to value profit over humanity. The NBA is merely the organization in question here.
Earlier this week, commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA does not intend to pause the season and that everyone must “learn to live with” the virus. Learning to live with the virus doesn’t mean predominantly acting as though it doesn’t exist and enacting milquetoast policies to “combat” COVID. Learning to live with the virus means changing protocols, procedures and how we act in the name of public health because there’s a pandemic still happening.
Silver and the NBA’s behavior and comments imply the former when the latter is what’s best for everyone’s safety.
A controlled environment, such as the Orlando Bubble in 2019-20, seems like the safest solution to ensure games continue on without COVID sweeping across the entire league. I understand that situation was challenging on everyone involved, but playing an indoor contact sport during a pandemic requires everyone to make some concessions to promote general well-being.
I also think broadening who’s allowed in the bubble — a la family or other pre-approved members from the start — could help alleviate some of the mental strain and isolation the bubble produced, according to those who endured it.
If the bubble isn’t the solution, find other ways to operate with the betterment of everyone in mind rather than focusing on the wishes of those in power. Perhaps we limit fan attendance. Maybe we bring back daily testing for everyone, including vaccinated players. I’d hastily endorse both moves.
Amend the current situation that’s hampering so many people. Heightened protocols may be an inconvenience, but again, you have to compromise if you’re trying to play an indoor contact sport amid a pandemic.
The NBA is a business. Those who benefit most from its revenue are often interested in the financial gains ahead of the dignity of people. That’s not new, nor a surprise. I don’t expect the NBA to suspend the season, nor do I expect the Bubble to happen again.
*If the NBA supsended the season, I’d advocate it continue to pay all the employees I just mentioned concern for earlier. I know that would never happen, but they’re also not suspending the season, so it’s a moot point altogether.*
That doesn’t mean what they’re doing isn’t dehumanizing, wrong or should skirt criticism. The last few weeks have been incredibly frustrating and disheartening, even if unsurprising. I wish the NBA would do better, but I know it won’t and that’s shameful.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.