Whether it’s the NBA in basketball, the NHL in ice hockey or the NFL in American football, the major North American professional leagues are struggling to keep their championships active and their teams competitive despite the wave of Omicron variant contaminations that are fell on the United States and Canada.
With some 265,000 new cases of Covid-19 recorded each day on average, the United States broke a record, surpassing the 251,989 cases reached in mid-January 2021 according to Johns Hopkins University. In the NHL, no less than 70 matches have been postponed, a disruption of the calendar which forced its leaders to refuse to release the players for the Beijing Olympics.
The average number of daily Covid-19 cases Tuesday reached 265,427 — a new pandemic high, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous record of 251,989 was set January 11. https://t.co/czwzybQBto
— WKOW 27 News (@WKOW) December 29, 2021
The NBA is not spared by this resurgence of covid. Since the start of the season, 214 players have had to submit to the Covid protocol, including 170 in the last two weeks and 28 last Sunday. Even if ten regular season matches have been postponed, including the latest between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, originally scheduled for Wednesday, December 29, NBA leaders are determined that their championship will continue year after year.
After the game against San Antonio was postponed, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra got angry with management at times “puzzling” of the NBA of the Omicron wave, while several asymptomatic players were suddenly excluded because of the number of tests required by the league.“We’re getting to a point where we need more information.”had regretted the coach of the Heat.
Words that echo those in early December of NBA superstar LeBron James, placed in solitary confinement after an inconclusive PCR test who ultimately did not have to stay ten days in solitary confinement after negative tests. “It’s literally a game of chance every time you take a test”said the King, “you just have to see who’s available from there”, does he have for follow-up.
To reduce the risk of matches being postponed and further disrupt the schedule, the league has reduced the isolation period from ten to six days for asymptomatic and vaccinated positive players.
Full ESPN story on NBA quarantines shortening to six days based upon Covid-testing data: https://t.co/VBfJeIHCdc
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 27, 2021
While franchises can call, to compensate for absences linked to the Covid, to players playing in their reserve team or without a contract (541 players in total have already played at least one match this season, unheard of in history of the NBA), there is the question of the fairness of the competition.
“Of course there is a form of injustice”, recognizes Adam Silver, the big boss of the NBA, to evoke this solution which sees exhausted teams continue. “But the other advantage is that we have 82 games in the season and long playoffs, so I think things will improve at the end of the season.“, he believes.
The question also arises for the NFL, which has reduced the isolation period for all players, vaccinated or not, from ten to five days if they are positive for Covid and asymptomatic. Especially since many teams are still in the running to win their ticket to the playoffs, before the last two days of the regular season.
More than 500 players tested positive in December, including unvaccinated Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz, a blow for the Colts. But they could benefit from new NFL guidelines, revised following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the main health agency in the United States.
Carson Wentz is placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
The QB not being vaccinated, he will be absent for 10 days. He will therefore not be able to play the crucial match against the Raiders on Sunday. #ForTheShoe
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) December 28, 2021
They would allow a faster return of vaccinated or unvaccinated players who have no fever for 24 hours and whose other symptoms, such as cough, “disappeared or improved”. A decision that could well satisfy Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who denounced in a podcast this week a “two-class system”unfair to vaccinated and non-vaccinated players.
Some clubs have chosen to return to virtual meetings to safeguard the health of their players. Not easy to combine with a race for the playoffs. “I just have the feeling that the teams best able to manage the situation will be the ones that can get out of it and qualify,” summed up DeForest Buckner, defensive player for Indianapolis.