Rams News: As MLB fights to contain COVID-19, the LA Rams watch. And wait

(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /

LA Rams News: Rapidly spreading COVID-19 among Florida Marlins baseball team creates concern as LA Rams watch and wait

The LA Rams are watching the Florida Marlins carefully. While you may not consider this LA Rams news, the common elements of professional sports and their ongoing efforts to salvage playable seasons places all teams of all sports on the common ground right now.  Of course, we are discussing how various professional sports leagues in the USA have decided to address the risks of COVID-19. Each sport is learning from the success, and struggles, of all other professionals sports on the matter.

The NHL and NBA have chosen the bubble method. The MLB and NFL have chosen a more relaxed option of encouraging all pandemic protocols to be enforced.

Pro sports in a bubble

There are two paths right now for professional sports to take to counter the risks of the highly infectious coronavirus pandemic plaguing the planet right now. One option is to create an artificial bubble. In this scenario, all players, officials, coaches, and personnel associated with playing, training, or otherwise affiliated with NFL football games are pseudo-sequestered over a period of months. Anyone who must leave must notify the league.

Anyone who returns is quarantined for a period of time (10 days-2 weeks) at which time they are monitored for symptoms and tested routinely. Once they are all clear, they may interact with others who test negative. That is the model established by the NBA/NHL. It’s effective because it forces anyone entering the sterile environment to prove negative before exposing others.

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Pro sports on the pandemic protocol honor system

Other sports have opted for a less restrictive model. In this model, players and coaches are tested daily, are encouraged to wear facemasks, and are limited as to the number of persons who can gather at one time. That is the model established by the MLB, and soon to be implemented by the NFL.

The main difference between what the NBA versus the MLB/NFL models?  Players can interact with family members. That means friends of the family, acquaintances of the family, neighbors, businesses, employees, and accidental meetings all carry the risk of a lapse of judgment leading to rapid transmission.  Just ask the Florida Marlins:

Life, and testing positive for COVID-19, comes at you fast

The risks of COVID-19 are so high because it has the ability to infect one person and be retransmitted to others before symptoms appear. In essence, any letdown of your guard can subject you to infection without your knowledge. And once infected, you can infect others. How quickly does that happen? Just ask the family of Andrew Whitworth, who contracted the disease, as well as nine family members.  How did that happen? He innocently let down his guard.

COVID-19 comes at you fast. It swept over the Florida Marlins at incredible speed. The number of Marlins who are now testing positive is reported to be at 14.  That’s a huge number. And it happened that quickly.

Each player who tests positive has a period of time between contracting the disease, testing positive, and entering a quarantine protocol where they could infect others. If they, as so many do, determine they feel fine enough to go without that silly facemask, anyone they were in close proximity to is at risk.

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How will NFL teams persevere?

Whenever facing an unknown, it’s not uncommon for the strongest reaction to being “that could never happen to me”. It’s a normal human reaction. If we did not have this burst of overconfidence, we would all be trembling in the corners of our homes in fear of automobile accidents, falling off bicycles, attacks by wild dogs, and any other accident we have learned about in the past year or so. So the NFL cannot be held to a higher standard than we hold for ourselves. And due to the risks of what may happen, NFL players may opt-out of the NFL season by August 1st. Will the Florida Marlins experience persuade some key players to opt-out and remain safe?

The league and player’s association have negotiated a plan which has covered many of the protocols associated with the most stringent community standards. But it will come down to the honor system, following standards and procedures, and taking all necessary precautions as though lives were at risk.  The NFL season impacts thousands of employees and millions of fans. That much riding on the line will create solutions for challenges nobody realizes will exist.

Competitive sports will remain competitive

Much like the NFL concussion protocol, the NFL must use the Marlins example and ensure that the decision to quarantine a player or players is not a decision made by a coach or player.  Competitive sports will always be so fiercely competitive that a player who tests positive but suffers from no symptoms is unlikely to volunteer for self-quarantine. So the NFL and NFLPA  need to ensure that enforcement of protocols is league monitored, not team monitored.

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Football is still a go. NFL teams meet 16 times. All other times the teams have their facility and protocols to protect them.  Baseball has far more frequent games, travel, and interactions. So while there are lessons to be learned, the two sports are, in fact, quite different. Football is still a go. The Rams roster cuts have begun.  The LA Rams are watching current developments in Major League Baseball, they are not walking blindly into a similar situation. They are waiting and learning how to do it better.