From the Press Box: Could NASCAR and MLB’s recent COVID-19 positives paint a picture for NBA/NFL?

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Now that July 4 has come and gone, we can start looking at later this month as NBA, MLB and NHL are all planning to start/continue their seasons.

The inevitable took place over the holiday weekend, however, as NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson and MLB had 66 positive tests (58 players, eight club staff members). In regards to baseball, 98.2 percent of the tests were positive.

In MLS soccer, the FC Dallas Squad had almost a dozen positive tests force them to pull out of the “Back to Soccer” tournament.

Did any of these tests derail the entire sport? 

No.

Johnson had a replacement driver in the No. 48 car this past weekend and has since tested negative for the virus (he was asymptomatic).

The positive tests across baseball led to several teams to cancel and change their workouts while awaiting results.

The NBA has moved their entire sport to what’s been dubbed as “a bubble” for the finish of their season. In this bubble, players cannot leave without being forced into another 14-day quarantine.

They also can’t have visitors or family (their loved ones may come to the bubble in August during the first round of their playoffs).

The NBA and MLB have both allowed for player “opt-outs” on this season, with NBA players losing a portion of their pay for each game missed and MLB players would forfeit their salaries and service time (players deemed “high-risk” would not lose salaries or service time).

The NFL is still considering whether or not they will have player opt outs.

As we look at how baseball and NASCAR handled their positive cases, we are seeing the new reality that will allow us to have professional sports in the fall and maybe even starting again in the spring.

None of these systems are perfect. None of them will be perfect. But, the more the world learns to deal with the virus, including the sports world, the more perfect it will become.

Guidelines will continue to become more strict and, in football, players may have shortened, less contact-driven practices. 

The NBA seems to have a solid plan in place, albeit not the most ideal situation for the players being away from their families, but on paper it sounds like a great plan.

The MLB’s plan and how travel to and from games will be affected by COVID-19 will be how the NFL is able to play come September.

We still have a lot of unanswered questions, but with time, hopefully they are answered.

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached pampanewseditor@gmail.com or find him on Twitter: @jcl1987.

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