While baseball haggles over finances and hockey tries to figure out where to place its bubbles, the concept of sports returning gets shakier every day. With spikes in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and may other states, more and more reports of players losing their enthusiasm for a return have popped up. Especially when it comes to both the NBA’s and MLS’s plan to hold their league competitions specifically in Orlando.
Today’s news should result in players in both leagues reacting to heading to Orlando with nothing less than a “Get fucked.”
The NWSL’s Orlando Pride, due to head to Utah this weekend for that league’s Challenge Cup, have decided to withdraw from it given the number of positive tests they’ve had among players, coaches, and staff. Following reports that up to six players had tested positive, the Pride released a statement saying that everyone who tested positive had been asymptomatic.
This follows other recent Florida moments such as the Phillies and Blue Jays shutting down their spring training sites due to positive tests and the Tampa Bay Lighting pausing their Phase 2 workouts due to the number of positive tests they’ve had, and that’s before anything resembling a training camp had begun. Which makes one wonder just who in their right mind would willingly choose to set up shop in Orlando, or Florida, at all at the moment (or ever)?
It is clearly unsafe to be in Florida if you have to be right now, and flying in hundreds or thousands of personnel who don’t have to be there makes little sense. And there’s little hope that Governor Fuckwit and the rest of the powers-that-aren’t in the state are going to get this corrected. Just today, after consecutive record-breaking days of new cases, Ron “Nothing To See Here” DeSantis was trying to fudge ICU numbers to cover his ass. This is Florida. If it can happen, it will, and in the stupidest fashion possible.
What hope can there possibly be that this will just be “fine’ in a month’s time, when MLS and the NBA are supposed to be at Disney World? Simply because they want it to be badly enough? Neither plan calls for Disney staff to be quarantined with the league players and staff, nor should they. In fact, staff shouldn’t have to work at all and should be quarantined at home. That’s the only way Florida will get through this, though no one should sit on a hot stove waiting for that state’s/local governments to locate its senses — if such things ever existed in the first place.
The Pride, like other NWSL teams, had moved to having a full-on training camp before deciding to withdraw. This is before they started interacting with other teams, staffs, or workers at hotels where they would have been staying for the Challenge Cup. This is just what happens when you’re in Florida. Again, what hope does the NBA and MLS have of getting out of Orlando unscathed when a resident professional team has considered itself too much of an incubus to safely be outside of it?
None of the leagues that are trying to return to action in North America have really come up with an answer to the question of what it would do if a massive amount of players from one team were to test positive. Most of it has been, “We’ll run that kitten over when we get to it.”
Clearly the team would have to be removed from competition. At least for the NBA and MLS, these questions aren’t theoretical to Orlando anymore. Having your fingers crossed that it will get better by the time you arrive isn’t a plan.