Players kicked off team and in quarantine after breaking their league’s bubble

Safety bubbles in the NBA and sports league burst at the hands of a few, highlighting the implications to us outside the bubble.


The NBA bubble was created as a preventive measure to combat COVID-19. ESPN has covered play within the bubble extensively since late July


Courtesy of Creative Commons

The world has dealt with the pandemic for six months now, which has put a stop to everything we love, including sports. With many fans awaiting the return of the NBA, NHL and WNBA seasons, the leagues have had to find the safest way to restart, and thus came the “safe bubbles.” 

This plan was set to return a sense of normalcy for fans and players alike, yet, the extensive safety protocols set in place have no purpose nor functionality if players are going to continue to act with indifference towards the pandemic. A lack of self-responsibility in the actions of a few bursts the safety bubble for all. 

England international soccer players Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood, of rival clubs Manchester City and United respectively, breached quarantine guidelines this past week. In the process, they burst the “safe bubble”, causing them both to be sent back home. Yet, both players aren’t alone in breaking safety regulations within the bubble. In recent weeks, NBA players have also been in the headlines for not following protocol, with a current investigation of a new breach underway. 

Clearly, both England players breaking protocol were mistakes made consciously; both put their own interest above the safety of the entire bubble, which rightfully saw them dropped from the England squad. It was careless of both of them to leave the team’s bubble and visit the public part of the hotel they stayed at in hopes of meeting with women. Even more so, it wasn’t until manager Gareth Southgate was made aware of the incident that they were separated from the rest of the team. Their actions that weekend could have put the entire team at risk of contracting the virus.

The NBA also dealt with two quarantine breaches back in July. Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes broke quarantine when he picked up a food delivery, and Bruno Caboclo of the Houston Rockets left his room during the initial quarantine period, allegedly “unaware that he wasn’t allowed to.” 

Failing to learn from previous mistakes, a COVID-19 scare within the bubble has arisen again, this time with harsher implications for Rockets forward Danuel House Jr, who was under investigation by the NBA for allegedly letting a female COVID-19 tester into his hotel room on Sept. 8. Both Holmes and Caboclo had to spend 10 days in quarantine with daily testing after not following protocol. House Jr. has been asked to leave the bubble and will not be able to return for the rest of the season after allegations being proven true, according to an NBA statement. 

 Even though both Caboclo and Holmes quarantine breach isn’t as severe as House Jr’s, they are not excused for their carelessness. As for House Jr, like fellow England soccer players Greenwood and Foden, his behavior can be considered reckless and selfish. “Mistakes are inevitable,” however, this one is different. The whole world is dealing with a pandemic. Therefore, out of respect for those who have been and continue to be affected should be highly considered. The bottom line is that this “mistake” was made in a time where cluelessness or lack of judgment is not an excuse. These athletes are in a bubble for a reason, and them acting in self-interest puts people’s health at risk. 

Notably, the NHL and WNBA are prime examples of the effectiveness of the bubble when done properly. Both leagues have had no breaches and no positive cases. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert who consulted the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), explained what safety protocols depend on in order to work. 

“Of course, you can make the training facilities as safe as possible, but a lot of this boiled down to personal responsibility, but also responsibility to your teammates as well to make sure you don’t pick this infection up and bring it to the rink,” Bogoch said.  

Although the bubble isn’t a perfect solution that assures no one will contract COVID-19, it’s intended to “risk mitigation, not risk elimination,”  as Bogoch said. 

The bubbles showing us how to deal with COVID-19 as cases continue to soar –— both soccer and the NBA league highlighted the severity of lack of judgement and the complications that can arise from that, and on a positive note how successful both NHL and WNBA were in dealing with covid due to community effort. Not only must athletes work together, but we must also be mindful of our actions and how it can affect other’s safety, all of us doing our part and following guidelines will help mitigate COVID-19.