If we were to grade the big four pro sports leagues on their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the grades would probably look like this …
The NBA completed its season Sunday night when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 to take the Finals series 4-2.
The last game of the season came nearly one full year after the regular season opener tipped off on Oct. 22, 2019.
The season went on hiatu March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic and resumed July 30 in the protective bubble at Walt Disney World.
Only two players tested positive for COVID-19, and both of those cases were diagnosed during the initial quarantine period in July before players were free to move about the Orlando, Fla. campus.
There were no coronavirus cases for the past two-plus months.
After shutting down its season in March, the NHL returned to play in August with 24 teams competing for the Stanley Cup in a postseason that took place in two bubble locations.
The Eastern Conference teams played in Toronto, while the Western Conference teams played in Edmonton. Once the playoffs reached the Conference Finals round, the remaining four teams played their games in Edmonton.
On Sept. 28, the NHL became the first of the big four pro sports leagues to crown a champion in the COVID-19 era when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history after knocking off the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 to take the series 4-2.
No NHL personnel tested positive in the bubble.
The MLB had some issues early on, but has seemingly righted the ship with both the American and National League Championship Series winding down in bubbles after playing the regular season in a non-bubble format.
There have been zero positives among players for 44 straight days as the World Series approaches. Compare that to where the game was in July and August.
The season was delayed from late March to late July, and its usual 162-game schedule was knocked down to just 60 games.
The campaign was barely out of the gate when the Miami Marlins had a COVID-19 outbreak, and it suddenly seemed like the young season was in trouble.
That was followed by an outbreak among the St. Louis Cardinals.
The league promised fines and suspensions while also taking steps to strengthen its COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The games went on, but 45 of them were postponed. Almost all were made up later in abbreviated doubleheaders with each game lasting seven innings instead of the usual nine. There were 55 doubleheaders this season, the most since 1984.
And the NFL?
Its non-bubble format is in a bit of a mess right now as the league enters Week 6 due to outbreaks with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans.
Unlike the other three leagues, the NFL plays just one game a week, so any disruption proves costly.
Nine teams are being affected, some over a period of weeks through Nov. 22, including the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England and Tennessee.
Denver’s game at New England, originally scheduled this past weekend, and then moved to Monday night when the Patriots had more positive COVID-19 tests will now be played this Sunday.
Kansas City’s game at Buffalo, which was supposed to be played Thursday, Oct. 22, has been moved back to Monday.
Among the other changes, the Jets at Chargers moves from Week 6 to Week 11, the Jaguars at Chargers moves from Week 8 to Week 7, the Chargers at Broncos moves from Week 11 to Week 8, the Chargers at Dolphins moves from Week 7 to Week 10, and the Dolphins at Broncos moves from Week 6 to Week 11.
The NFL will need to do better than this if it wants to finish the season with a passing grade.
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