Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA proposes health and safety protocols for upcoming season, stricter on unvaccinated

Unvaccinated players who test positive would have to sit apart from others during team meetings, travel and mealsNBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The NBA provided "plans for what the upcoming season would look like under updated health and safety protocols" with the "bulk of the passages dedicated to players who are unvaccinated," according to Dan Woike of the L.A. TIMES. Those who are not fully vaccinated would "be required to undergo daily testing" and would be "forced into quarantine if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive." Vaccinated players would "be subject to limited testing and no mandatory quarantine." Unvaccinated players would "have to sit apart from others during team meetings, travel and meals." They also would "be subject to mask requirements and have separate seating in locker rooms, keeping them as distanced from the rest of the team as possible." For players who have been fully vaccinated, most aspects of professional life would "revert back to pre-pandemic rules." Talks with the players’ union "are ongoing" (L.A. TIMES, 9/3). Thursday's memo also said that the league "hopes to secure an agreement with the union that would call for all players to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies as part of the preseason physicals" (, 9/2). ESPN’s Brian Windhorst noted the NBA “cannot get an agreement to force all players to get vaccinated," but "they're going to make life as uncomfortable as possible for players who are not vaccinated." ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins said the "hidden agenda behind this memo" is to "encourage more NBA players to go out there and get the vaccine" (“The Jump,” ESPN2, 9/2).

NBA'S EXPERIMENT IN EPIDEMIOLOGY: THE UNDEFEATED's C. Brandon Ogbunu wrote a new study of COVID-19 transmission using data from the NBA shows that the league’s "grand 'experiment' in epidemiology that allowed it to successfully complete two seasons" is now providing "important medical insights for the rest of the world." Because the NBA’s population is "overwhelmingly healthy and young," it provided "a great study group -- close to an 'all things being equal' approach, in which scientists could focus on the differences between virus variants rather than having to account for a wide variety of preexisting health conditions (as in a study of the general population)." And as schools reopen and the delta variant spreads, the research based on NBA players provided "a great way to get a clear read on several current questions surrounding the transmission of the virus" (, 9/2).

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