Covid-19 Adjustments and Protocols in National Sports


(Credit: The Athletes Hub)

There are lots of national teams playing during the Covid-19 pandemic. The NFL (National Football League) season is halfway through, the NBA (National Basketball Association) season is beginning, and NHL (National Hockey League) is getting ready for their new season. Since we just finished our holiday season, and the case numbers are rising, each sports league has put Covid-19 restrictions and adjustments in place for their seasons. One news reporter from SportTravel writes: “The Coronavirus outbreak has forced difficult decisions for the sports-event industry.” Here are some protocols that each sports team has made to play safely. 

National Football League:

The NFL teams are playing through the pandemic, and almost every team has had players who tested positive for the Coronavirus. For that matter, the NFL and the players have agreed to daily testing. Also, many players wear contact tracing devices for detecting how the virus spreads, which provides useful information for medical case studies. 

The league also has strict Coivd-19 protocols. For instance, all members are required to wear masks on the team buses and planes. While Coronavirus surged throughout the nation, the NFL is tightening its protocols. Teams have stopped meeting on Mondays and Tuesdays, and the travel protocols were reinforced so that players cannot leave their rooms except for going to games. If anyone is interested in the whole protocol, here is the link for the new protocols instituted after Thanksgiving break.

Several teams such as the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens did not fully follow the restriction protocols, such as gathering in a social setting without even wearing masks. This behavior caused outbreaks which not only affected their own teams’ practicing plans but also forced them to reschedule games with other teams. As the league took some of the teams out for breaking protocols, others had financial penalties levied. NBC News online reported that the Patriots had to pay a $500,000 fine after Patriots Quarterback Cam Newton tested positive following a locker room celebration without masks. 

National Basketball Association:

The teams returned to their regular-season games on December 22. With the pandemic going on, the NBA issued a 134-page document in November regarding the Covid-19 health and safety protocol for the 2020-21 NBA teams. But the ESPN website points out some of the concerns that people may question. The question that concerns most people is what happens if a player tests positive? The short answer is that, if a player tests positive, he will not be able to play games for at least two weeks; and, if he shows any serious symptoms, the time frame will become longer. Here is the full article about some of the questions and concerns that are not included in the protocol.

National Hockey League:

The NHL instituted a four-phase plan to ensure Covid-19 safety, and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved of their plan before the season started. Hockey players are tested daily, with both temperature checks and swab tests. The NHL has also designated specific hotels and restaurants to secure quarantine restrictions during competition.

Hopefully, these Covid-19 protocols will help limit the number of cases within the leagues and Americans will be able to enjoy watching their favorite teams play again!

Carol Li ‘21, Co-Sports Editor