NBA: Playing games without fans is becoming a very real possibility

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The NBA has to make a decision soon regarding the spread of Covid-19, and it could very well lead to playing games without fans in attendance

As many city and state officials react to the increasingly concerning spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in the United States, the NBA will likely lead the way in how professional sports will be handled over the next few weeks and, possibly, months.

While cases continue to soar in the United States, and specifically in a few big NBA cities (New York, Boston), the NBA is expected to meet and finalize a plan moving forward in an attempt to keep its fans and players safe and not in harm’s way.

Despite many different ideas being thrown around, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the only safe way to move forward – without having to postpone the rest of the season altogether – is to play games in empty arenas.

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It’s the only way to do it. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA is mulling different ideas including one in which the league would move games to cities that have not reported cases yet. Though, I’m not sure that’s the best idea if the league is indeed focused on keeping its fans and players safe.

"[via ESPN]If the virus clusters and forces a team out of its city and arena for a period of time, there has been discussion about moving games to the away opponent’s arena if that city hasn’t suffered an outbreak — or even moving games to neutral cities and sites, league sources told ESPN.The NBA is discussing a number of possibilities — including eliminating fans from buildings for games or, more drastically, suspending game operations for a period of time — but sources said decisions on those options remain complicated by the fact that there has been a limited amount of public testing for the coronavirus in the United States. There is no full understanding of how widespread and debilitating the virus could become in the country."

There are a number of potential possibilities here at play, but the rest of the major sports are watching what the NBA decides to do next. The MLB is in the midst of Spring Training and is slated to begin their season later this month. The NHL is in its final stretch run of the regular season and will begin the playoffs soon. The MLS just kicked off their regular season and is barely getting into the swing of things. The NFL is still months away from preseason games, but a precedent is about to be set by what the NBA elects to do.

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All eyes will be on the NBA over the next few days. And the decision that they make will, no question, send waves through not only the sports world but the entire country. From the looks of it, playing games without fans is looking more and more like the only safe play moving forward.