The 2020-21 NBA season will have protocols requiring fans to show a negative coronavirus test or take a rapid test that day, if they sit within 30 feet of the court, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
The NBA has sent its 30 teams a memo with protocols for eligible markets to host fans, requiring people within 30 feet of court to register negative coronavirus test two days prior to game or rapid test on day of game, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 11, 2020
Charania also added details on suite capacity and that arenas could be at 50 percent capacity if all fans are tested or if the local transmission rate is low.
For arena suites at 25% capacity or less, testing would not be required for fans. Teams would be permitted for 50% if all fans were tested or if local county's positivity rate is three percent or below and seven-day average of new cases per 100K residents is 10 or fewer. https://t.co/Rr0YMpebdb— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 11, 2020
It is important to note that though the NBA is allowing teams to play in their home markets, that is dependent on the state and/or local markets’ regulations. Also, it’s unclear how teams can get the capacity to do a rapid COVID-19 test when it’s difficult for average people to get one in the first place unless one experiences symptoms.
The Los Angeles Lakers jumped ahead of this and said there will be no home games with fans this season, until they, as opposed to the California and/or Los Angeles governments deem it safe to do so.
As of now, the Lakers have no plans to allow fans in Staples Center for the start of the 2020-21 season, the team announced. pic.twitter.com/nSmWCP3QGh— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 12, 2020
There has been no word on whether the Washington Wizards would allow fans to sit courtside or near courtside this season.
Either way, this is the stupidest and most reckless thing I’ve seen from the NBA. It’s not so much because of the Wizards because I think the DC government will prevent the team from having many fans in the stands anyway.
But in the South and Heartland, teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, etc. are more likely to open the gates because their state or local governments are more likely to allow fans, barring the teams voluntarily not allowing fans themselves.
I wrote last week that teams in the West Coast and Northeast will be more hesitant to allow fans in arenas than teams in the center of the country, which are also the regions where coronavirus case rates are much higher than the national average.
If the NBA allows all this go through, players in the West Coast or the Northeast could be playing games in the midwest, then travel back home, they could still play games in front of asymptomatic people (testing can’t find the virus in people who just contracted it) and then spread it to their families!
The United States just reported 140,000 new cases of the coronavirus ... TODAY. These numbers are bound to increase this winter with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day on the horizon. Sure, many venues may be closed by then ... but the virus will only spread even more, along with hospitalizations ... and eventually, deaths.
While some of the worst-hit states do not have NBA teams like North Dakota, which leads the US’s rate (172 cases per 100,000), Wisconsin, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, has a rate of 109 cases per 100,000. That rate is in line with some of the hardest-hit EU member states in recent weeks, like Belgium and the Czech Republic. Rates there have dropped some now, only because their countries have gone back into lockdown.
I know, the NBA isn’t the government. I don’t expect the coronavirus response to change until at least late January after President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris are inaugurated.
So why the hell does it make sense for the NBA to theoretically allow teams to open up with fans when the country is about to hit a nuclear winter?
To be clear, brighter days are ahead. The vaccine news is promising. But in the short run, all businesses still have to hunker down for the winter so we can make it through safely.
The NBA is already playing with fire opening the season where teams travel from one city to another during a dangerous winter. I just don’t know what else to say since it appears that fans could site close by while the pandemic is at its peak.