The Lack of Bubbles Backfires on the Miami Marlins and their COVID-19 Outbreak
By: April Feng
While the NBA, WNBA, NHL, and other North American sports leagues have implemented safety “bubbles” on players and staff to return to play, Major League Baseball has not done the same. These safety bubbles require players to isolate themselves within one place in order to prevent the spreading of the virus.
For the NBA, bubbles have proven to be effective. According to the official NBA website, “Of the 346 players tested for COVID-19 on the NBA campus since test results were last announced on July 13, zero have returned confirmed positive tests.”
Similar successes have been seen with the NWSL, in which the Houston Dash were crowned as the very first champions of the coronavirus-era. According to The Washington Post, the NHL has also reported zero positive tests of the Toronto bubble hockey players.
Baseball players have not implemented the same bubble plans. On Sunday, Miami Marlins players, not league heads or health officials who should have made the call, decided to go forwards in playing the game in Philadelphia with a COVID-19 positive starting pitcher, Jose Urena.
A slew of positive tests followed the next day. Players in Philadelphia who had previously played a game against the Marlins were also at risk of infection, leading to the postponement of additional games.
According to Zachary Binney, Emory University epidemiologist, going forwards in the season with no plans of virus protection or containment was “irresponsible, dangerous, reckless, stupid, uncaring, greedy, selfish.”
Although contact with community and family is understandable from an emotional perspective, “the more contact you have with members of your community, the more there’s a chance for the disease to spread among players in your team, and to other teams, and to other communities. If you’re trying to play in communities with a lot of cases, you’re going to have outbreaks in your sport,” says Binney.
Binney then goes on to offer a compromise between the bubble and the baseball model: the “home market bubble.” NFL teams could agree to be isolated in a hotel; limited family members could join them, and contact with the outside world would be limited as much as possible while traveling.
According to TIME, Binney says, “That might be the only way to do it, given the amount of virus in this country.”