TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With Taiwan's professional baseball league set to become the first in the world to start its 2020 season, The New York Times has suggested that the NBA take notes from Taiwan and consider restarting its season as well.
On March 11, the NBA issued a statement declaring that the 2019-20 season would be suspended indefinitely due to the worsening Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the U.S. Since then, the league has been hesitant about resuming its games and is reportedly considering canceling the remainder of the season if the situation does not improve.
In an article published on Friday (April 10) titled "Can the NBA learn from Taiwan's basketball bubble?," New York Times sportswriter Marc Stein pointed out that Taiwan's Super Basketball League (SBL) has carried on with its season despite the pandemic. He said the league has done so by establishing a "bubble" environment in which games can be played without a live audience.
Stein noted that the SBL has ensured its arenas never exceed 100 occupants and that high fives between players have been strictly prohibited. He noted that only rubber-soled shoes are permitted in the facilities, forcing team staffers and arena workers who forget the new rule to watch the games in socks.
In a telephone interview with Stein, Taoyuan Pauian Archiland head coach Ben Metcalf said that life in Taiwan has been "pseudo normal" and that he and the players felt very fortunate to be able to continue doing what they love. He stressed that the games show that Taiwan, as a whole, has handled the outbreak extremely well.
Stein argued that the NBA could attempt similar policies and create a quarantined environment to ensure the safety of its players and staff. He added that the NBA could potentially "convene teams at a centralized site," such as Las Vegas, where the NBA has already held fanless showcases for its development league.
Taoyuan Pauian Archiland head coach Ben Metcalf. (CNA photo)