Dear Dallas Cowboys and the NFL,
Get a bubble. Get a bubble now. Your season depends on it.
Major League Baseball can't seem to stop suspending games. Meanwhile, the NBA and the NHL are continuing their seasons in bubbles that are keeping COVID-19 and the coronavirus at bay.
To this point, you have resisted the temptation to create a bubble for the league. Granted, there isn’t a ton of data to work with. The NBA, NHL and MLB restarts are just a few weeks old. But the results are overwhelming.
The bubbles in Orlando, Toronto and Edmonton are working. Baseball’s no-bubble, 130-page manual, isn’t.
The Miami Marlins started this by breaking MLB protocols in Atlanta during an exhibition game, according to Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller. They congregated in the hotel bar. They went out on the town. You know, the stuff young athletes usually do when there’s no COVID-19? And it’s the type of thing MLB asked players not to do. But, instead of a bubble, they let the players work on the honor system. The Marlins’ lapse impacted four other teams, either with potential virus spread or rescheduling games.
The St. Louis Cardinals had positive tests and it appears some of them went to a casino. They haven't played a game since July 30.
Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL are gliding along in their bubbles with minimal cases and games every night. It’s not to say that it can’t go awry. But as I pointed out in my COVID-19 lessons learned piece, they’re teaching the rest of pro sports lessons on how to reboot safely.
You should be taking notes, NFL.
Yes, I acknowledge that in the case of the Cowboys at The Star in Frisco, efforts are being made.
"I'm very impressed with our players and our staff just the way everybody has recreated the flow that you always look for at this time of year," new coach Mike McCarthy said of the adjustments made inside team headquarters. "Because the days are not as long as they're going to be here starting with the end of next week."
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Right now you have no bubble approach. You have teams working out of their facilities with NFL-instructed protocols. But players can still go home to their families, etc … That’s what baseball did. What happens when your teams start traveling and interacting with one another? Baseball is one thing. There is barely any physical contact with other players. Football is another beast entirely.
And baseball is the one experiencing the issues. The sport WITHOUT the bubble.
I’m not the only one that has pointed out the need for a bubble. The writers at 98.5thesportshub.com put together a detailed approach to putting you in a bubble. It involves multiple bubbles because, as our Mike Fisher pointed out, the logistics of 32 teams in the same place just won’t work. But four bubbles with eight teams in each bubble, or even eight bubbles — one per division? It could work.
The Star in Frisco, particularly, provides a unique bubble option to start. This team moves a couple of hundred people a couple of thousand miles into an Oxnard hotel every summer for camp' why couldn't it move a bunch of North Texas residents down the street into The Star?
A mini-bubble, at least to start? ESPN is reporting that such a movement is afoot ...
Good. You have to act now, Cowboys. You have to act now, NFL. You need ramp-up time to prepare and test, just like the NBA and NHL. That was about three weeks’ worth of lead time. Then they could start playing.
Your season depends on action. With two examples to follow, there’s no reason for you to make any decision other than moving to a bubble. Now. For your own health ... and for the health of the sport.