The contrast between the Finals inside the NBA Bubble and rampant COVID-19 outbreaks validate the league’s crackpot plan to bring basketball back.
When the NBA Bubble was first proposed, the world looked at the league sideways. ‘There’s no way they can pull that off,’ scoffed critics who undermined the league’s attempt at creating a safe environment for the resumption of play. Many believed that thought the NBA and its leadership, namely NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, were nuts for proposing something so untraditional.
Unconventional times call for drastic measured and no one is looking at the NBA Bubble sideways anymore. This was accentuated here in early-October with a state of disarray sending the country into a tailspin.
We’re about seven months removed from the NBA shut down operations after its first positive test by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Roughly six weeks earlier, the Kansas City Chiefs conquered the 54th Super Bowl with an attendance estimated by Eerie News Now/The Associated Press at 62,417 people. Fortunately, this was the lowest turnout since the first Super Bowl in 1967.
Bringing 60,000 people together these days is laughable and quite frankly, we don’t know when to expect that again. In light of the circumstances, the NFL proceeded with its new season without coming close to the precaution instilled by the adjacent NBA. Certain NFL teams have allowed a limited number of fans to attend games so long as they follow “social distancing guidelines,” which are nearly impossible to implement for the duration of a football game.
Now, just three and a half weeks into the ‘Coronavirus Season,’ the NFL faces its first widespread outbreak. Players and personnel throughout the Tennesee Titans have tested positive, forcing the season schedule to reshuffle. The first domino collapsed onto another as the marquee matchup of the week — The Kansas City Chiefs vs. the New England Patriots — is forced to postpone due to positive tests on both sides including one by Pats captain and starting quarterback, Cam Newton.
The NFL is crumbling in front of our eyes because of a pandemic they knew was waiting for them to resume. A virus spread by human interaction looks at a professional football league operating out in the open as Wile E. Coyote looks at the Road Runner except in this equation, the Road Runner is defenseless to its predator.
It’s a troubling backdrop to a 2020 NBA Finals matchup that features arguably the greatest player of all-time, LeBron James, in pursuit of a championship with his third team. A distinctive line has been drawn between the logical approach to operating a sports league and a complete and utter disregard for the safety of the league’s employees.
Dispelling the ‘Ratings are plummeting’ narrative about the NBA Bubble.
It’s true that overall, NBA Bubble ratings are declining. Many detractors of the NBA’s social justice initiatives point toward that aspect of the restart as the source of the issue. If you take a closer look, it’s a moot point with ratings thriving in the key demographics that advertisers target. You can find that below in Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s line of tweets regarding NBA Bubble’s statistics and ratings.
However, there’s a much more obvious answer to the NBA’s so-called ‘Ratings Dilemma.’
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) September 3, 2020
You’re going to have to forgive me because I’m going to break the first rule of Fight Club by talking about Fight Club. There’s an elephant in the room that we’re not supposed to discuss which is playing a tremendous part in the league’s declining ratings: NBA streams.
Despite thriving with their key demographics, the statistics cannot accurately evaluate viewership in that range because their vehicles of viewing the NBA Bubble Playoffs aren’t being counted.
Viewers in the key demographics aren’t watching through traditional avenues because most of them never signed up for them in the first place. According to a report by Business Wire in April 2020, 74 percent of people between 18-34 have either cut the cord, plan to, or never signed up for cable television in the first place.
Before the United States’ economy was trashed by the pandemic, people were trending away from traditional cable models to save money and focus on streaming services. Now, people aren’t just choosing to do away with cable — They have to. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs due to the market crash, forcing them to cut corners and in many cases, get rid of cable.
Beyond that, the blackout restrictions and unreliability of the NBA League Pass streaming service forces fans of the product to find alternative ways to view these games. Social justice messages aren’t making most fans turn off NBA Bubble games — It’s the traditional cable/satellite TV model that’s forcing their hands. There need to be alternative avenues for younger viewers to watch their favorite sports product besides those currently available.
Banning the NBA Streams subreddit isn’t going to stop fans who grew up on the internet from finding alternative routes to watch the Finals inside the NBA Bubble.
NBA Bubble precautions would’ve served the NFL and the White House well.
To think that inconsistent testing protocols would be enough to keep the coronavirus from getting to the President of the United States and his advisors is thoroughly imprudent.
Take a look at the extend that Silver and NBPA president Michele Roberts went to protect their players and staff. The current Presidential Administration was way more concerned with getting a second term in office than they ever were with protecting the U.S. population from the virus. Had they taken a more cautious approach, maybe our national death toll wouldn’t surpass the 200,000 thresholds, which was documented by the New York Times and pretty much every reputable source you can think of.
Not only did the Trump Administration fail to properly protect itself from the coronavirus, but it failed the American people. Even since contracting the virus, President Donald Trump never took the proper protocols to ensure the safety of himself and those around him. All he needed to do was follow a small portion of what was laid out by the NBA Bubble to remain safe.
This looks bad. pic.twitter.com/5Ewb3oLa11
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) October 3, 2020
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In protecting the interests of the league and its players, the NBA Bubble was formulated and laid out in a packet of guidelines over 100 pages long, according to ESPN. Instead of taking advanced measured as the most innovative sports league in the country implemented, the United States government left the public to fend for itself.
As Trump and the First Lady isolate at Walter Reed Medical Center, they’ll have an opportunity to kick back and watch the NBA Finals proceed safely and carefully as the country he was elected to lead should have by this point. Countries around the world are getting back to some version of normalcy as the United States faces a potential second wave. Instead, our President and NFL stars headline the list of infected Americans.
If the country or the NFL were run by people as intelligent, empathetic and innovative as those at the top of the NBA Bubble, maybe we’d be able to rebuild. Small business owners might have a shot at recouping their life’s work and the essential workers of the country could fulfill their duties without having to fear for the livelihood of themselves and their families.
But hey, at least we get to watch the events inside the NBA Bubble! If only those elected to represent the best interests of the American people had the foresight of Adam Silver.
Opinions expressed in this article belong to the writer, Dylan Hunter Carter, alone and do not reflect the views of FanSided in its entirety.