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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

COVID-19 is impacting the sports world once again

COVID-19 has already caused many changes to professional and college sports this year

By GABRIEL CARABALLO — sports@theaggie.org

It’s been almost two years since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the sports world has been greatly impacted by the pandemic just when they thought it was over. With safety as their number one priority, many leagues implemented protocols in response to the COVID-19 variants’ drastic effect on the sports world. 

The first sports league to be greatly impacted by COVID-19 this year was the NBA. Although the NBA has taken many precautions against COVID-19 — a prime example being the NBA Bubble in 2020 — the NBA has loosened regulations for vaccinated players since then. Combined with the rise of COVID-19 variants, there has been a surge of cases in the NBA resulting in a couple distinct consequences. 

Because of the fallout and recent surge, the NBA has seen a record number of signed players this season. Totaling at 541 players as of late December, this number sets a single season record. Players who were seemingly out of the league have returned on 10-day contracts, such as Greg Monroe and Lance Stephenson who are lacing up and eager to play. 

Even with the record number of players ready to help clubs succeed, there is another obstacle in the way. Already, the NBA has postponed 11 games due to teams not having enough personnel to play. Fortunately, none of the games were canceled, but some may be left to wonder if canceling is the best option to avoid a compact second half of the schedule. 

“No plans right now to pause the season,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver regarding the situation. “We’ve, of course, looked at all the options, but frankly we’re having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now.”

However, the NBA wasn’t the only league to have postponed games. The NFL has taken drastic measures in response to the surge of cases as well. In week 15 of the NFL season, it was announced that three games were to be postponed. It was a decision made by commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Goodell said, “The emergence of the Omicron variant is precisely the kind of change that warrants a flexible response.” Quickly addressing the concern was indeed a “flexible response.” 

Surprisingly, another similarity between the NFL and NBA’s COVID-19 consequences exists. The NFL team the Tennessee Titans have set a new single season record, not for points scored or even wins in a season but for how many players have taken the field for them. They set a record 91 players used this season, just showing how impactful the variants can be on a single team and how rotating players was necessary this NFL season. 

However, the NFL has also taken another precaution, in the form of a mandation. The NFL has “strongly encouraged” that all vaccinated persons obtain a booster shot. This includes staff, coaches and players among many more, all in hope that they will maintain a safe environment as they approach the postseason. 

Like the NFL and NBA, the NHL has also been hit hard by the rise in COVID-19 cases. As of late December, the NHL needed to postpone nine more games, bringing the total number of postponed games up to 90. They also needed to pause their season until after Christmas because of the rise in COVID-19 cases. For a league with 82 regular season games, the rescheduling will be difficult.

Even more mind-boggling is how collegiate sports have been affected. College basketball has been halted due to these variants. With around 140 Division 1 teams forced to pause their season and 200 games impacted, it seems bleak that a season will commence anytime soon for some programs, while others have taken precautions like playing with no fans in attendance. 

With the rise of COVID-19 cases once again, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL and college sports have been hit. Each has administered precautions like encouraging booster shots, postponing games, adding new players and even pausing the season as a whole. These contemporary protective measures have done some good, but the leagues still have been greatly impacted by this disease. 

Going forward, many think these leagues should learn from their responses and compare them to things like the NBA Bubble in order to grow and further protect the people who make sports great. While many think this is what should happen, business and contracts may not allow it to happen and the leagues may have to get creative with how they maneuver this situation. 

Written by: Gabriel Caraballo — sports@theaggie.org 

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