Covid-19 is disrupting the NFL, NBA and NHL, sidelining dozens of players, including some of the league’s biggest stars.
New cases this week have hit the leagues and resulted in postponements from the NBA and NHL. The NFL is grappling with the wrath of the virus with the playoffs just weeks away.
The NFL reported that the number of positive cases on Monday and Tuesday ended at 88, but with players coming and going on the roster, around 100 is more specific, the league’s worst two-day streak during the pandemic .
NFL chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills said on Wednesday the omicron variant was found among the dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases in the league.
Sills said NFL owners were told in meetings Wednesday that booster shots are at the center of efforts to minimize the spread, with Sills saying the omicron variant is expected to become the dominant strain in the United States. Cleveland Browns earlier Wednesday announced six players had been placed on the Covid-19 reserve list, comprising quarterback Baker Mayfield, safety John Johnson III and defensive tackle Malik McDowell.
The Browns have 18 players, half of their 22 starters, on the roster.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Cleveland home against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday.
âI think what made us successful is safety above all else. Second, be prepared to adapt at any time. It’s clear even in the last couple of weeks that the changes are quite significant and different from what they were before, and I think that calls for changes to our protocols in general, and we are working with the players’ association. about it, âGoodell said. .
Other star players on the Covid-19 reserve roster this week include Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs.
On hardwood, the NBA is not doing much better.
the Chicago Bulls announced Monday that Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons and Thursday’s game against the Toronto Raptors will be postponed.
The matches mark the first postponements of the season. As of Wednesday afternoon, around 25 players were in NBA health and safety protocols.
Ten Bulls players have entered the league’s Covid-19 protocols since December 1, including stars Zach LaVine and Demar DeRozan, according to NBC Chicago.
One of the faces of the league, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who led the Milwaukee Bucks to a championship last season, is set to miss Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers after being put on health and safety protocols. league Tuesday.
“Like the rest of the country, and as our infectious disease specialists predicted, we have seen an increase in cases around the league,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said on Wednesday. âWe will continue to monitor science and data and, in close partnership with the Players Association, update our protocols as our medical experts deem appropriate. “
About 97% of the league’s players are vaccinated, the NBA said. Of the eligible players, according to the league, around 60% received a booster shot.
The return of professional sports after the onset of the pandemic may have contributed to a sense of normalcy for some fans, said Nicole Forrester, assistant professor in the sports media program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.
âMaybe it’s a reality check how far we haven’t necessarily come out of the woods and how widespread this virus is,â Forrester said.
Forrester, a 2008 high jump Olympian for Team Canada, said the public can view the obstacles caused by the virus in professional sports as a reflection of their perspective on the subject. Some may conclude, âOK, this thing is real. He is back.”
Others “who may not be vaccinated, might say to themselves:” These people are vaccinated and they are still contracting the virus. It can elicit a lot of mixed responses, âForrester said.
In NHL arenas, the league, like the NBA, has been forced to postpone games. Unlike the NBA, there have been more than a few postponements.
More than 140 NHL players were on the Covid protocol list this season, including more than two dozen since Monday.
The league postponed the Calgary Flames’ next three games on Monday after six players and a staff member entered the league’s Covid-19 protocol over a 24-hour period.
The team announced on Monday that forwards Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka and defenders Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov are in protocol.
An NHL spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The NHL has postponed three Ottawa Senators games to mid-November due to a virus outbreak in the team. Other games postponed last month include the New York Islanders games against the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, according to NBC New York.
William Parham, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a psychologist who works with elite athletes, said professional sports leagues do well in keeping their seasons afloat. He said the athletes have been resilient.
Covid-19 and its variants are here for the indefinite future, Parham said. The increases in infections only show that athletes are like the rest of us, Parham said.
âIf anything, the coronavirus and its various strains suggest it is an equal opportunities virus,â he said. âIt doesn’t discriminate. And everyone is vulnerable, including the best trained and most gifted athletes. â¦ They are not immune.