To bubble or not?

Brentton Wharton, sports writer

It’s no secret that many sports fans were eager and impatient when it came time for the return of sports in the United States, sometimes with little regard for the players and coaches safety.

However, when the spotlight was on the sports world, many leagues and commissioners were quick to take action. With press from the media and fans on, if seasons would even be able to be played, it was clear to these leaders that something had to be done. The most popular option to date has been the bubble, and so far they’ve proved to be impervious to the Coronavirus.

Soccer was the first sport to implement the bubble as a way to resume their seasons. After a 100 day suspension, the English Premier League returned behind closed doors in mid June. Shortly after a successful Premier League return, the NBA announced their plan to operate a campus-like living style for it’s players.

The first two bubbles made a lasting impression immediately because of their effectiveness and their locations. England was one of the hardest hit countries when the pandemic became a global phenomenon, who — according to Wikipedia — hit more than 26,00 Covid related deaths by April 30, and yet after the first round of testing for the players and staff in the bubble, only one positive test came back out of nearly 1,900.

As for the NBA, their bubble is in Florida, which is a scary place for anyone with concerns over the Coronavirus. Shortly after the NBA moved into the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the Sunshine State became the world epicenter for Covid-19, yet the NBA had zero players test positive in their final round of testing before the season restart.

For both sports, no severe player outbreaks proved that campus living might be the best option for many sports if they want to have seasons in 2020. After the bubbles proved useful, many sports leagues took to getting their own.

The WNBA, MLS, NWSL and UEFA Champions League all adapted bubbles for their players. Despite how successful the bubbles have been, one sports league has come out and said they will NOT be using a bubble for their 2020 season. I’m, of course, referring to the NFL. What’s interesting about their decision to forgo the bubble is the way they instead chose to handle any player concerns.

NFL players got the option to opt-out, with some stipulations. Any player that opts out will not receive his full salary, instead they will be eligible for an opt-out package ranging from $150,000 to $350,000, which is merely a fraction of most of their original salaries.

The NFL’s decision not to operate under a bubble took many by surprise, and it will be interesting to see how the Coronavirus impacts their season. When it comes to the bubbles, we are beginning to see exactly who is all in, and who is all out, are commissioners making the right decision giving their players strict rules and guidelines, or is it more fair to the athletes to have the trust of their bosses to do the right thing off the playing field?

Brentton Wharton is a senior sportswriter for Spotlight. His weekly column will appear on