The NFL has been waiting and waiting and waiting (and waiting) to see how other sports operate in a pandemic. Meanwhile, none of the other major American sports have returned to play.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver declined to guarantee that his league will successfully complete its 2019-20 season via the “bubble” approach in Orlando.
“[It’s] never ‘full steam no matter what,'” Silver said during a TIME100 Talks discussion. “One thing we’re learning about this virus is that much is unpredictable.”
Nine days ago, as positive coronavirus cases spiked in Florida, Silver reportedly was “resolute but somber” when discussing the ability of the NBA to accomplish its Orlando objective.
Silver added that, even if the season resumes in the Orlando bubble, a “significant spread” of the virus at the Disney World complex could spark cancellation of the balance of the season.
Silver also was asked to identify what would qualify as a “significant spread.”
“Honestly,” Silver said. “I’m not sure,. We have a panel of scientists, doctors, experts that are working with us. We’re going to see as we go. . . . Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop. You cannot run from this virus. I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus, because there aren’t many other situations I’m aware of where there’s mass testing of asymptomatic employees. So in some ways this is maybe a model for how other industries ultimately open.”
We’re going to see as we go. Get used to that vibe, because it feels like that’s exactly what the NFL is doing. Which means that the specter of an abruptly pulled plug will hover over football season from this moment through the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl.