As the rapidly spreading coronavirus hits North America this week, sports organizations are scrambling to issue directives to players and coaches to avoid the sickness, which as of Monday night had killed six people in the U.S. and many more worldwide.
The NBA issued a memo Monday telling league members to, among other things, favor fist-bumps over high-fives and limit autographs, according to ESPN.
Reporting with @ZachLowe_NBA: In memo to teams on coronavirus, NBA suggests players choose fist-bumps over high-fives and avoid taking items such as pens, balls and jerseys to autograph. Teams also concerned about corona impact on pre-draft process. Story: https://t.co/dKZyDMZdVy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 2, 2020
With NBA travel not curtailed, though, it seems unlikely for players to completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 given their daily interactions with hundreds (if not thousands) of people. The risk of serious illness, however, is relatively low for athletes in peak physical condition, as experts say older adults are at the highest risk of severe complications.
Beyond the fact that elaborate handshakes are a core part of basketball culture, there is no avoiding physical contact or close conversation between players, fans and even the reporters in locker rooms before and after games. Because COVID-19, which started in Wuhan, China, is still a novel sickness, not everything is known about how it spreads. What is clear, however, is that it can jump from person to person in a variety of ways, from sneezing and coughing to straightforward vocal interaction.
Several players have spoken about the coronavirus in recent days, and the awareness of the illness is likely to grow quickly as it becomes more pervasive in the U.S.
The Corona Virus has officially hit Oregon. More specifically Lake Oswego…Make sure y’all washing y’all hands with soap for 20 or more seconds & covering ya mouths when you cough. I am officially taking a break from signing autographs until further notice.
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) February 29, 2020
The NBA acknowledged its plans for grappling with COVID-19 are fluid.
“The coronavirus remains a situation with the potential to change rapidly,” the league wrote in a memo.
Author: Dan Bernstein