Game On…with Rob Kriete – AUGUST 26

“Tiny bubbles…in” my sports?

The late, great Don Ho sang the Hawaiian-influenced ditty, “Tiny Bubbles,” back in 1966. Almost 50 years later, our beloved professional sports are implementing their own tiny bubbles to protect their players and games throughout the ongoing pandemic.

For their playoff teams, the NHL bubble is in two hub cities: Edmonton (for Western Conference teams) and Toronto (for Eastern Conference teams). Keeping players sequestered in specific hotels, the league has designated each team a floor so that they can make their own group “bubble” to help prevent a Covid-19 breakout. This plan has proven to be a model, as COVID-positive tests have been minimal and have not affected play. Although many of these playoff games are occurring in the middle of most of our workdays, I know Lightning fans in Tampa Bay are finding ways of keeping track of the Bolts score even if they are in the middle of important meetings for their work. (Perhaps this is a tad bit autobiographical).

The isolation bubble, or “Disney Bubble,” is also working out very well for the NBA. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney near Orlando began hosting 22 of the 30 teams invited, and with regular testing of players, they have been able to play games without a COVID-19 disruption. Of course, tragic, unnecessary current events now have the NBA games paused as teams unify in their social justice protest. However, the NBA bubble has proven an effective measure in containing the virus; unfortunately, it cannot prevent social injustices.

Major League Baseball, still playing across America in home stadiums, has been challenged. Outbreaks throughout the league, without the safety of a bubble, have caused postponements across the schedule. Teams have played uneven numbers of games with stoppages that are affecting the outcomes of games. (The Mets, for example, were shut out in both games of a doubleheader they “played” after their Coronavirus hiatus). MLB is looking, now, to create a few tiny bubbles for the increased number of playoff teams for 2020. Two bubbles, one for NL and one for AL, would potentially solve the pandemic-caused issues so that the playoffs can be played unhindered.

The NFL? Well, they must be looking at “tiny NFL bubbles” as a straightforward way to keep players safe and allow for their games to be played. How they could do this is unclear. NFL teams spend a limited amount of time visiting cities, so that would minimize problems, I would think. A full-contact sport such as football is undoubtedly going to have challenges this season. Hopefully, a plan to keep teams in some sort of bubble will allow us to enjoy a full season, that I know we are all looking forward to enjoying.

Containing this awful virus has been extremely difficult and frustrating for everyone. But, quarantining teams in “bubbles” has already proven to be a healthy measure to allow the games to be played. Perhaps we all need to be some tiny bubble to get this virus under control and eradicated.

Regardless, I hope you and your loved ones are and remain safe.