THE NEW ERA
In this new, ever-changing era of COVID-19 pandemic protocols, all professional sports have had to radically rethink their existing practices and habits. Accepted norms that have been in place for decades are no longer suitable, or acceptable in 2021.
The NBA is no exception to this, and there are a few new rules to be observed.
They primarily apply to unvaccinated players – here’s our understanding of the new way of things.
The league has proposed COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Moving forwards all unvaccinated players will be tested on both practice and game days. Depending on their team schedules, that might sometimes mean being tested twice on the same day.
THOSE PLAYERS WHO ARE ALREADY VACCINATED WILL ONLY BE TESTED IF THEY THEMSELVES DISPLAY SYMPTOMS OR ARE EXPOSED TO SOMEONE CONFIRMED AS POSITIVE
The NBA is also working on an agreement that calls for all players to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies as part of their pre-season checkups.
The lockers of unvaccinated players will be the maximum distance away from their vaccinated teammates. They will also be expected to travel to games in separate sections of planes and buses and eat separately. The same rules apply to team meetings. Effectively non-vaccinated players must stay at least 6 feet (1.8m) away from vaccinated ones at all times when not on the court.
It appears that the rules are not yet finalised and are subject to ongoing discussions with the NBA. What the guidelines do make clear is that the experiences of vaccinated vs unvaccinated players will be very different from now on.
If an unvaccinated player is found to have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, they will then enter a mandatory 7-day quarantine. There will be no mandatory quarantine for vaccinated players if they do not test positive themselves. This even applies if they are found to have been in close contact.
THE NBA HAS ANNOUNCED THAT ALL TEAM PERSONNEL WHO WORK WITHIN 15 FEET (4.5M) OF PLAYERS OR REFEREES DURING GAMES WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE FULLY VACCINATED AGAINST COVID-19
Essentially the directive applies to all staff, including coaches, but does not require the same of all players. That is still under negotiation apparently but may be introduced if the number of cases attributed to NBA games surges. Time will tell on that front.
As of Oct. 1 not only will team staff members and NBA officials need to be vaccinated. Everyone from broadcasters and journalists to security staff behind the scenes will be affected. It could also require that a booster shot be administered at a later date.
The NBA and the referee’s union have also reached an agreement that all referees and officials will be vaccinated. If you’re not a player then you’re getting nowhere near a basketball court on a professional basis without your shots.
COVID-19 PROTOCOLS ARE HERE TO STAY FOLKS, THIS IS THE NEW LAY OF THE LAND…
One thing we can all agree on is that we can’t wait for the new season to begin.
The team here at The Jump Hub are champing at the bit! Bring on the action.