Trying to map out a return for sports leagues in the United States is tricky. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be safe for games to occur as long as social distancing is strongly recommended — something that makes participating in some kind of sporting event quite hard — and figuring out the issue of whether or not fans can attend looms over everything, among a handful of other questions that would need to be answered.
In the eyes of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, there is a way that sports can resume sometime in the not too distant future. There are a few catches, though: Fauci, in a Snapchat interview with Peter Hamby of Good Morning America, believes games would need to occur without fans and with players staying in some sort of isolated area, like a hotel, where they could constantly get tested.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put them in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled, but have them tested every week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family and just let them play the season out. People say, ‘Well, you can’t play without spectators,’ well, I think you’ll probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game.”
This sort of plan has been kicked around by MLB, which is reportedly considering a bubble league in Arizona, while the NBA has reportedly floated the idea of doing something similar in a place like Las Vegas. These are not foolproof ideas, of course, and there are legitimate concerns about how feasible these things would be — especially when it comes to testing, as leagues would need thousands of tests a week at a time when the United States still is not testing nearly enough people.
Still, Fauci will presumably play a role in leagues deciding to restart, whenever that day may come, and if this is the best path forward, then perhaps we should expect serious conversations about these sorts of things rolling out sometime over the next few months.