Are the NBA and PBA seasons salvageable?

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I have put a good chunk of time whether to do this piece or not. This was supposed to be released during our May 10-16 frame but decided to delay it to inject some more thought.

It’s kind of out of place to talk about playing a game while witnessing millions who are losing jobs, who about to lose jobs or would accept any activity just to get whatever fee they can earn to make ends meet.

On the other hand, reports of increasing uneasiness brought about by boredom, isolation, or the quarantine procedures to the point that some are committing acts related to suicidal tendencies are also alarming.

This “balance of things” in our daily lives is a real thing. And seeing one’s favorite sports action or athlete performing live could really give this balance a big boost.

Obviously, sports fans must be thirsting for any kind of sporting event if we are to put the money cost of watching it.

I’m sure organizers are very willing to put up one if we are to take away the risks of a participant or a personnel catching COVID-19 and their obligation that goes along with it.

The NBA and team owners trying their best to finish the 2019-20 season as they are considering several avenues to accomplish it including the so-called “bubble cities”.

Meanwhile, the PBA has given itself until August to decide whether to have a 2020 season or not.

We are yet to hear from the MPBL the PSL and PVL.

Just how realistic for these leagues to play games in 2020 under current conditions?

I think it goes down to two things: (1) Will the players completely buy in to the fact that they and their families will be the one taking the risk; and (2) Are the owners/leagues willing to be responsible for “collateral damages”

Players/personnel to play frontliners

This is the easier part.

If the NBA or PBA does get to play games, players will have to be willing take on the role of a fronliner, although in a somewhat weird manner.

You know, they have to be separated from their families for the duration of a tournament plus the 14-day quarantine period thereafter.

Players of all teams and working crew have to be tested before participation, stay in an isolated place where they can play, and perform without fans in the venue in order to bring that sports action to the viewing public.

This could likely be done. I’m sure not all players will totally buy in this idea but I think there will be enough to make a pretty good tournament.

The players who have contracts worth just enough to make them survive and the personnel who are paid just enough to meet their daily needs would like this deal.

Let’s not also count out yet all the superstars. Lebron James, for one, said he would like to play out the season. Although if his sole reason is he feels like the championship is his for the taking should they continue, I think he has to go back on the drawing board and reflect if putting others people just for that is worth the risk.

Risk of having collateral damages

The harder part is this: are the leagues and team owners bold enough to carry on their shoulders and heads the possibility of one losing his or her life because they continued with this plan?

First, are they willing to accept the fact that they could be labeled the ones who deprived test kits for others who might have greater need for them in order to have a better chance against the dreaded disease?

Second, the “bubble city” alternative is the most ideal method to employ and yet everything has to go perfect if the games are to be completed and nobody is to be infected.

Once all players and personnel to be involved are tested negative, they have to stay in just one location and remain there until the end of the tournament.

Meaning, they have to be serviced with their daily needs.

If you’re just thinking it’s just the players, coaches, the scorekeepers, and the referees who would have to live inside this “bubble”, you’re sadly wrong.

There are the possibilities of including drivers, chefs, team trainers, physical therapists, doctors, laundry service personnel, janitors, and sports media.

That is assuming no player gets injured which is not an assumption the leagues want to make in this case.

Imagine a player getting injury! He needs to visit a health facility for an MRI or require surgery. What if he eventually gets cleared and could get back in a few days, would the others want to play with somebody who just came from a health facility during the pandemic?

See why I had a hard time finishing this one?

As one who loves to see competitive games help ease the imbalance caused by COVID-19 and as one who takes care of contents of this section of this paper, I’d love to see the NBA or PBA complete a season.

But as a father of two young kids, I hate being the one getting into that bubble city and would have probably refused a duty under these circumstances.

Charles Barkley once said this regarding jobs: the most important jobs in the world are being a policeman, teacher, medical practitioner, fireman, and the military.

COVID-19 is proving him right all the time by not including any sports-related job. Even he knows being a basketball player isn’t an essential job.

This is one time I don’t envy being Adam Silver, Willie Marcial, Mark Cuban, or Lebron James.

By: Armando M. Bolislis
Banner illustration by Don Ray Ramos.

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