The state of the big four

The Miami Marlins were one of the first MLB teams to experience a COVID-19 outbreak. Elizabeth Gilbert/Flickr

James Salazar

Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced professional sports leagues around the world to get creative with how they plan to start or finish their seasons. Here is how the United States’ four most profitable sports leagues, the NBA, the NHL, MLB, and the NFL, are playing through, or planning to play through, the pandemic. 

National Basketball Association

On June 4, the NBA approved a plan to restart the 2019-20 season on July 31 with 22 teams competing at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, as reported by ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Colloquially known as “The Bubble,” this plan has only had a few hiccups.


On July 13, NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that Sacramento Kings player Richaun Holmes tested positive for COVID-19. That same day, ESPN reported that Houston Rockets player Bruno Caboclo tested positive as well. 

Per an official NBA press release, as of Aug. 19, the NBA Bubble is boasting a six-week streak of no positive test results among the 341 players tested. 

National Hockey League 

In June, CBS Sports reported that the NHL was in the process of deciding where to resume the 2019-20 season. Potential cities for the NHL’s bubbles included Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas as well as Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver in Canada. 

On July 10, NHL.com Staff Writer Tom Gulitti reported that the NHL would resume play in August with five games known as the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, while the Stanley Cup itself would be played in two hub cities, at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto and Rogers Place in Edmonton. 

NHL Public Relations announced that as of Aug. 17, the NHL has concluded its third week of play in both hub cities with no positive test results among the 5,640 people tested. 

Major League Baseball 

On June 23, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred penciled in July 23 as Opening Day, kicking off an abridged 60-game season being played behind closed doors. 

Within a week, the MLB experienced its first COVID-19 outbreak as at least 17 Miami Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19.

On July 29, the Saint Louis Cardinals experienced MLB’s next outbreak as nine players and seven staff members were infected with the virus, as reported by CBS Sports

On Aug. 15, the Cincinnati Reds recorded a positive test, postponing two games in the process. Five days later, Yahoo Sports announced two positive tests on the New York Mets roster, thereby postponing their series with the New York Yankees. 

So far, outbreaks and positive tests have led to the postponement of nearly 40 games. 

National Football League 

With September just around the corner, the NFL is preparing for their regular season. 

Most NFL franchises are gearing up to play their first month without fans in the stands, however teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys have said that they are looking to fill their stadiums at a limited capacity. 

According to the NFL Players Association website, as of Aug. 12, 107 players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the offseason, and 64 players have tested positive since training camp began. 
On Aug. 23, Sports Illustrated reported that the NFL was dealing with a testing scare stemming from 77 false-positive cases linked to a New Jersey lab.

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