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Sports Bubbles Have Proven More Effective Than We Originally Thought

By: Charles Xue

On Sunday, the National Women’s Soccer League will wrap up its month-long tournament with zero positive coronavirus tests. How did they manage to accomplish such a feat? By using a sports bubble, meaning that an entire league of athletes are gathered in one area that is sealed from public access. Players eat, sleep, train, and play in this one area, and are tested frequently.

Major League Baseball were the first to pitch the idea of a sports bubble. When it was first proposed, people thought there would be poor odds of success.

However, the National Women’s Soccer League has shown that this can work. In the NWSL, they have played and trained in a sports bubble for a month and had nearly 2,000 total tests conducted. Not a single player has tested positive, largely because the athletes have remained diligent..

“‘We’ve had full cooperation from the players,’ said Lisa Baird, the commissioner of the NWSL.”

Similar setups have occurred in leagues like the NBA and MLS and have been successful even in basketball, which is considered to be one of the highest risk sports because of the fact that it’s indoors and there is nonstop close contact.

Currently the most expensive bubble, which is also the one of longest duration, is the one that housed the 22 NBA teams. When the players arrived at Florida’s Walt Disney World at around July 10, they immediately entered quarantine and were not let out until they had two negative tests under their belts. Out of the 322 players in quarantine at the time, two tested positive and were isolated. On July 27, 346 players were tested and none yielded a positive result.

At first, the bubble implemented for Major League Soccer seemed shaky at best. Two teams had to withdraw from the “MLS is back” tournament because too many of their players tested positive. But as time went on, things got better. By July 10, none out of the 6,000 tests came back positive.

Women’s basketball has also been doing well. Cathy Engelbert, the commissioner of the Women’s National Basketball Association said on Wednesday that no player had tested positive since the eighth or ninth of July.

“Things are stable here,” she said.

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