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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

This weekend, basketball proved why football needs a bubble

Empty stadiums are not stopping the spread of coronavirus through the NFL.
Empty stadiums are not stopping the spread of coronavirus through the NFL.
Photo: (Getty Images)

To fully understand how popular football is in America, all you have to do is realize that a single sport owns two days out the week.

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Saturdays are for the college game, while the pros play on Sunday.

But this weekend, more than any other, proved that a game which requires big sweaty dudes to grab, breathe on, and tackle each other for 60 minutes is really hard to play during a global pandemic when you aren’t isolated in bubbles like the NBA and WNBA.

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So far, a “president” that has lied and mocked the seriousness of COVID-19 all year is stuck in the hospital battling the globe’s biggest threat, while the virus is spreading to his Republican buddies like a case of the Chickenpox.

The NFL has made schedule changes in connection with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs, as five franchises in three different regions have been infected in some way by the virus.

In college football, at least 24 games have been postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, as schools are playing in almost empty stadiums while the Big Ten and PAC 12 are set to kickoff in the coming weeks. Notre Dame’s President even has COVID, after he publicly claimed that reopening the university and playing football was worth the risk.

Oh yeah, and the game that everybody else on Earth, besides us, refers to as football, is also dealing with outbreaks. European soccer is having trouble playing in a pandemic, too.

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But you know who isn’t?

Basketball.

That’s what happens when you respect science, listen to public health officials, put zero-tolerance policies in place, administer daily testing, and play in a bubble.

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“Both baseball and football would acknowledge that if you’re not in a bubble, it increases the chances of getting the virus,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols before Game 3 of the Finals. Silver still hasn’t decided on how/when the NBA will look when it comes back next season, as the league understands that the virus is in control.

From The Basketball Tournament (TBT) starting things off in July, to the NBA and WNBA Finals that are oddly taking place in a month like October, basketball has proved that sports can be done safely if players are isolated in a bubble.

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The Seattle Storm and Sue Bird are making history in the WNBA’s bubble as they’re both setting assists records, as Bird dished out 16 in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, while the team accumulated 33 of them on Sunday.

The Lakers are making their own history, as the team set a Finals record for the most 3-pointers attempted during Game 2 when they made 16-of-47. Anthony Davis has joined a list alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal as the only Lakers to score at least 66 points in their first two games of a Finals series. And LeBron James and Davis are the first duo in purple and gold to score over 30 points each in the Finals since Shaq and Kobe did it 18 years ago.

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See, sports can be played at a high level during a global pandemic if protocols are in order.

The Seattle Storm are one win away from winning their fourth WNBA title, and the WNBA season could end as soon as Tuesday, or by next Sunday at the latest. The NBA’s season will last at least two more games after Jimmy Butler carried the Heat to a win on Sunday with a spectacular 40-point, 13-assist and 11-rebound performance in Miami’s 115-104 victory over Los Angeles.

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No matter when professional basketball concludes this season, it will be the ending of the only sport in America that’s been able to get it right in a year that’s featured the loss of one of the game’s greatest players in Kobe Bryant, a global pandemic, and nationwide racial and social protests.

And during the first weekend of October, it was proven how unstainable the game of football will continue to be in the midst of coronavirus if drastic changes aren’t made, or a bubble isn’t created.

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Because if a solely American game like football can’t figure out how to operate on the days that they’ve always owned, then maybe it’s just more reason why “America’s Game” shouldn’t be playing in America right now.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.

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