Babble ‘Bout a Bubble

The Discussion of College Athletes Being in a Bubble in Spring

I’m sure many of us played with bubbles growing up, but what about playing in a bubble? That just may be the case for the NCAA this spring. 


With the cancellation of college football, schools are looking for any solution to bring sports back as soon as possible. After watching the Pac-12 and Big Ten cancel their seasons, schools like Michigan State have been advocating for a bubble format to keep the season alive in 2021. In fact, universities across the country are discussing this and taking it into consideration.


We’ve seen the NBA and the NHL keeping their players in a confined bubble space to maximize their health and well-being for the season. They are not allowed to have any guests, they must get fully dressed in their uniforms within their hotel room before each game, and they cannot see each other outside of games and practice for at least a month. This is only the tip of the iceberg. 


What if this happened at the collegiate level? Would it be able to work? 


We’ve seen the benefits of isolating athletes in a bubble. As of today, the NBA has had zero positive coronavirus cases, and they have been in the bubble since July. If the NCAA could match the same procedures, if not similar, then college sports could very well begin in the spring.


The idea of keeping players in a bubble for the spring semester is actually being seriously considered. The NCAA recently filed for a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Professional leagues like the NBA, NHL and MLS have all utilized the bubble functionality to protect from COVID-19. A similar plan could be executed for college sportsmore specifically, college basketball and the postseason tournament. 


Postseason tournament? Yes, I’m talking about March Madness! After its spring 2020 cancellation and the subsequent loss of a hefty amount of revenue, the NCAA might be willing to try almost anything to have that tournament this spring, especially if that “anything” is something like the bubble, which we already know has the potential to work. 


But how would this work as athletes balance their roles as students as well? 


If there is anything we’ve learned from the past few months, it’s that many things can be done online! No longer would the athletes have to meet in person for their classes, just as it may be for them currently. Thus, by isolating them in a bubble format, they would not lose their priorities and responsibilities as a student. It also isn’t unheard of for student-athletes to take quizzes, exams and even midterms on the road already, because in the name “student-athlete,” “student” comes first. 


It’s exciting to know that these talks are underway. I may be biased, but I’ve been craving some Billiken sports. Mikey Cleary, a junior at SLU, feels the same way. He stated, “I’m optimistic about SLU. I’m just looking forward to finally being able to cheer on SLU when things finally feel normal.” I think we can all agree that we would love to cheer on our Billikens as soon as possible. If that means there is a big bubble involved, then sign me up.