The NBA has been the model for American sports in terms of handling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
They were the first to finalize a bubble concept and — in great detail — provide players with all the measures possible to stay safe at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. But with all of the safety protocols in place, there is still so much unknown surrounding the virus.
What is evident is a majority of the players who tested positive have been asymptomatic. This should be excellent news, as it means that their careers were not put in jeopardy by this virus.
However, due to the fact that COVID-19 only appeared in the U.S. in January, there is nothing proven about the long-term effects of having this virus. Some doctors and epidemiologists have discussed the possibility that even asymptomatic cases may have long-term heart problems because of it.
To help alleviate this worry, players who test positive will have to undergo a cardiac screening before they can return to play, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
Any player who tests positive for the virus must undergo a “COVID-19 Pre-Participation Cardiac Screening” in accordance with CDC protocols before beginning team-organized activities, according to the league’s health and safety protocols.
The reason the league and NBPA have focused specifically on the heart is myriad, but, according to a memo to teams on June 15, the basis for cardiac screening during the pandemic is tied to recommendations from the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Council, along with feedback from consulting cardiologists for both teams and those who work with the NBPA and NBA.
This is an important step of the process for two reasons. First, it will ensure that players are healthy and have the ability to play before they’re put into an NBA game. This is just another thing being done to keep the players safe despite the circumstances.
The second thing is that it may actually provide some sort of scientific research for doctors to use when discussing the long-term effects of this virus. It’s not a perfect correlation, as NBA players do not represent the majority of people, but it would provide a base line.
The NBA has made a situation that could very easily go off without a hitch. However, with how much that still needs to be learned about this pandemic, there is always a chance that this plan was doomed from the beginning. What happens in the next few weeks should be very telling as to which direction this plan will turn.
LeBron James confident in NBA’s plan
While the NBA has faced mounting questions given the rising number of cases in Florida, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James came to the league’s defense.
“I believe the NBA, Adam Silver and anyone that had anything to do with this, they took all precautionary measures to make sure we as a league are as safe as we can be,” James said in his first interview after arriving in Orlando.
“Obviously, in anything that you do, there can be things that can happen. But we will cross that line if it happens. We’re doing everything — from the league, from every franchise — to make sure everyone stays safe. I believe in Adam Silver.
“He has given me no reason to never not believe him since he took over. And I believe in our franchise that we’re doing everything we can to stay safe. So I have no concerns. If concerns start to happen, we’ll cross that bridge. I’m here 100% in great health and I’m looking forward to getting back on the floor.”
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