Well, here we go again. It’s Covidmania in professional sports right now, and no league seems exempt from the ramifications of powering through the pandemic. The NBA announced early Sunday afternoon that it had postponed five games due to the glut of players in COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The announcement spans three games on Sunday, one on Monday, and another on Tuesday.
In addition to the rest of America, the NFL, NHL, and NCAA have also been hit hard by the virus over the last couple of weeks. The NFL has pushed three of its Week 15 games back to either Monday or Tuesday. The Browns and Raiders have been rescheduled for Monday. Then, it was announced Washington-Philadelphia and Seattle-LA Rams had been moved to Tuesday evening.
A few NHL teams are taking a more proactive approach, shutting down operations for at least a few days in the wake of its own spate of infections. The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers have closed up shop through Dec. 26, which means the Avalanche will have four games postponed, and the Panthers will push back three.
The NCAA has also delayed or canceled a dozen games in the past few days. Duke-Loyola and UCLA-North Carolina were scheduled for Saturday but canceled due to COVID issues within the Loyola and UCLA programs, respectively.
Teams are beginning to take even more precautions with the recent surge of omicron. The Golden State Warriors sent home most of their top players before Saturday night’s tilt in Toronto against the Raptors. The Warriors trotted out a starting lineup of Chris Chiozza, Damion Lee, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Jonathan Kuminga (future star), and Kevon Looney. They are outstanding role players, but this isn’t a starting lineup you’d see every night for an NBA team.
And how ironic is it that with all this happening, the Brooklyn Nets finally decided to cave on their banishing of Kyrie Irving, only to have him immediately test positive and go into health and safety protocols with Kevin Durant, James Harden and six other Nets teammates. What did the Nets think would happen with the unvaccinated Irving? Hell of a plan there, Brooklyn. Everyone hopes these players are alright as this virus hits everybody differently. But this is going to be another tough season to navigate through for the NBA and all these leagues.
No matter what happens, we know the NFL will power through regardless of how many players are sidelined because of COVID. The NFL is going to play these games no matter what and collect their TV money. Not even COVID will stop that freight train. The NBA seems determined to do the same thing, but it could prove much tougher with a much longer season in terms of games played. If you’re thinking about another Disney World bubble, forget about it. The players union would shoot that down instantly. The players would put up a fight as we’ve never seen before. If things get too bad, it’s more likely to see the number of fans allowed in arenas cut down first. We might not be at that point yet, but if this trend continues, the NBA will need to decide how to proceed in the safest way possible.