A look back at how the major sports leagues made it through their 2020 seasons

COVID-19 has put a lot of businesses, organizations, and daily ways of life at a halt, but not professional sports associations. They have found a way to maneuver around the virus to finish their 2019-2020 season and now will be able to begin their 2020-2021 season with proper safety precautions.

NBA– The National Basketball Association placed their teams in a “bubble” inside of Walt Disney World’s resort in Orlando, Florida. Players had to be tested regularly once they had finished the quarantine period to enter the bubble. Some families were allowed inside the bubble once the number of playoff teams dwindled. The season changed drastically even before any games were played, as only 22 out of the 30 NBA teams entered the bubble. The other eight teams were not allowed to join the bubble due to being out of playoff contention. In addition, the 9th ranked team competed against the 8th ranked team to determine the 8th and final seed position for the playoffs. When a team was eliminated from the regular season or the playoffs they would have to exit the bubble and go home. Once the playoff picture was complete, teams competed for the championship in the normal playoff format, which concluded with the Los Angeles Lakers winning their 17th NBA championship.

 

NFL– The NFL restarted their season with their first official game on September 10th in Kansas City. Around 16,000 masked fans were allowed to be present in the stadium for the first game of the restart. The NFL decided not to confine their players inside of a bubble; instead, they are traveling as normal. Since the players and staff do not have a secure bubble, the amount of cases continues to rise at a rapid rate throughout the league. Outbreaks among teams such as the Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos,and the Baltimore Ravens have caused the NFL to make changes to the game schedule, though no games have been canceled. Between November 1st and November 7th,  56 employees, including 15 players and 41 staff members, tested positive for the virus, as reported by Kevin Seifert of ESPN. ESPN also stated that these results  were ”more than twice the total of any other period.” Furthermore, COVID-19 has made an impact on the San Francisco 49ers, leading to the team playing in Arizona for 3 weeks because their county banned all contact sports. The rise in cases has led to star players having to miss games, including New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton and reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

 

MLB– The MLB resumed with a 60 game season that started on July 24th 2020. The league did not restart with a bubble despite how well it worked for other major sports organizations. The 30 teams traveled throughout the United States to continue the restart of their season. To ensure the safety of the players and the organization, covid testing was mandatory while also having players in the dugout be masked at all times. The shortened season and lack of fans resulted in players making only a fraction of their normal salaries, which was a contentious point of negotiations between players and team owners.

NHL- The NHL returned with 24 teams to compete for the Stanley Cup, with some changes to their normal season format. The league used two bubble cities in Canada, with Eastern Conference games in Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Western Conference games in Rogers Place in Edmonton. Daily testing was a part of the restart process as well, allowing players to come back negative and continue the season inside their respective bubbles. The NHL decided to skip the regular season and get straight into a playoff tournament. As reported by NBC Sports, before the playoffs began, the Stanley Cup Qualifiers included 16 teams playing eight best-of-5 series, and a round-robin among the top four teams in each conference determined seedings for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The playoffs concluded with the Tampa Bay Lightning capturing their second Stanley Cup.