As American team sports look to come back, athletes are starting to resist calls to play amidst a global pandemic.
Yesterday, four basketball players decided to skip their bubble tournaments.
Davis Bertans, of the Washington Wizards, cited injury concerns and the looming free agency period as reason for his decision. Portland Trail Blazers forward, Trevor Ariza, will opt out of Orlando to be with his son.
UPDATE: Late Tuesday night, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley decided to opt out, Adrian Wojnaroski reported.
WNBA All Star Jonquel Jones said she will not participate in the 22 game WNBA season with her team, the Connecticut Sun. “This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made,” she said in a statement. “But the resurgence and unknown aspects of COVID-19 have raised serious health concerns that I do not feel comfortable competing in.”
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Both the NBA and WNBA plan to play in central Florida, where COVID cases continue to rise.
The soaring case numbers have infected professional athletes training in Florida, and forced teams like the Phiilies, Lightning, and Blue Jays, to close their facilities.
Plus the Orlando Pride recently announced the entire team will skip the NWSL tournament due to “positive COVID-19 tests among both players and staff.”
The Pride statement comes after several USWNT stars announced they would not play in the summer tournament.
The NHL will host a summer tournament somewhere and at some time. But one anonymous hockey player told The Athletic that he does not expect the season to resume in light of a few players testing positive for COVID-19.
“In my opinion, no way we play,” the player said.
In the NBA, players have until Wednesday to decide whether or not they will participate in the “bubble.” But an accelerating COVID-19 rate in Orlando and players’ desire to step off the court in the name of social justice could upend the NBA’s Disney plans.
Many sports fans want sports back after months of game replays, just-okay sports documentaries, and european soccer you’ve seen on occasion. But there are athletes who will not play for your entertainment or risk infecting themselves and others during a global pandemic.
No one knows how many athletes will end up opting out of their seasons. But don’t be surprised when we hear more names in the coming weeks.