Connor Granlund is a freshman music education major. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Connor at email@example.com.
The beginning of the NBA Finals this past Wednesday, Sept. 30, is a sign the 2019-20 NBA postseason is coming to an end. Although the league’s Disney World-based bubble has proven to be an outstanding success, successfully keeping positive COVID-19 cases to a minimum and creating a great environment to finish the season, the cost of maintaining the bubble is tremendous.
This begs the question — what should the league do heading into its 2020-21 regular season?
Another bubble, as ideal as it would be, is out of the question. The financial implications of maintaining a controlled location for all 30 NBA teams while playing a full regular season schedule is simply not possible.
The league has announced a few details regarding its upcoming regular season. Free agency negotiations are set to begin on Oct. 18, and the NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18. Regular season games are not set to begin until Dec. 25, according to a recent board of governors meeting. However, the NBA still needs to decide on a multitude of other aspects to start next season successfully.
When starting its 2020-21 regular season, the NBA needs to maintain some aspects of its 2020 postseason bubble. In-person attendance should not be allowed, despite how difficult it might be for some fans. The safety of the players and staff should be valued above all else, and bringing fans to the arenas would put that at risk with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as restricting attendance, the NBA needs to stay as vigilant with health procedures as it has during the bubble. Daily testing, constant sanitation and mask mandates need to be kept up to par to allow the season to start successfully. With teams traveling to different cities again, it is imperative these procedures are enforced properly.
Lastly, an aspect of the bubble that would greatly benefit a no-attendance restart is the continuation of the virtual fan system. This system has given fans the opportunity to be “a virtual fan" for a game, all from the comfort of their own home.
The response to the league’s virtual fan system has been nothing but positive. Former President Barack Obama, celebrity personalities and former players have all attended games virtually, creating a fun and unique environment. Continuing this system would certainly help soften the blow of not allowing in-person attendance.
The start date of the 2020-21 NBA regular season is uncertain, but that does not mean it will not happen. If proper health regulations are enforced, the impact of COVID-19 can be diminished, and the start of the season can begin with some changes.
We may not know the next time fans will pack arenas at full capacity, but the league needs to make the most out of its current situation moving forward.