How the NBA Has Adapted to New Safety Protocols

Ryan McKean, Multimedia Photo Editor

In March 2020, the National Basketball Association thought they would hold their last game for the foreseeable future. The NBA soon returned months later and resumed with a COVID-19 safe bubble, isolated to only the players and coaches. 

The following season, the NBA opened up the season with the exception of zero fans inside the stadiums. This way, players could still do their job while remaining safe within the bubble. This zero-fan capacity protocol lasted in the NBA for a couple of months. 

Soon after, the commissioner decided to allow fans back into stadiums in increments. Some stadiums would allow 5% capacity, while others would allow 10%. Specific teams could have no option of not allowing any fans back in stadiums at all; simply put, teams had the opportunity to allow their fans back in the stadiums, but they did not have to comply. 

Near the end of 2020-2021, stadiums went back to full capacity or close to it. A sense of normalcy returned when fans came back to stadiums the feeling of hearing the cries and boos from crowds, missed by many. 

For the 2021 NBA finals, the capacity limit was not maxed out because of how high risk the event was; fans could attend the event, but some were barred entry. This was because the limit of how many people could attend reached max capacity. 

The following season followed the same pattern. Because COVID-19 vaccines came out during the off-season, the NBA has made it mandatory for players to get vaccinated, or else they were prohibited from playing. Exemptions are available for players who have a medical condition that prevents them from getting the vaccine. 

Since vaccines have been released and the COVID-19 infection rate has decreased, the NBA has readapted to near-normal protocols. So far, this season has proven a success and many of the players have not contracted the COVID-19 virus. 

Miami Palmetto Senior High sophomore Tyler Shapiro is an avid Miami Heat fan. Shapiro attends many Miami Heat games, and is one of many fans who have witnessed the immense change between attending a Heat game before the pandemic and now.

“There are definitely less people and the tickets are 100% cheaper than they [were] when there was less players playing. Especially when the less popular players are playing because the well-known players are out with COVID-19. The stadium is less empty and better seats are cheaper; it is just a better overall experience,” Shapiro said.

The NBA has tried their best since the pandemic has hit to adjust the game experience to the liking of their fans so that they can have the best and safest experience possible.