The Bubble is Working, and We Owe MLS an Apology
Spend 15 minutes on sports social media, and you are certain to run into one of these “takes”:
Sports shouldn’t be coming back. Look at the infection numbers!
They’ll have to shut this down. We’ll be lucky to get two games out of this!
What is happening in “the bubble” is irresponsible.
Actually, you could probably get all three of those statements from one day following Grant Wahl (along with at least one subtweet of SI for firing a legend such as himself).
But, the point remains, Major League Soccer entered into this hashtag-MLS is Back tournament facing a headwind from woke journalists and fans more eager to have their twitter timelines reflect the “right” side of history than to support their favorite sides. And now, roughly 10 matches into the tournament, it is time for people to admit they were wrong about the Bubble and how MLS has handled the COVID outbreak. The tournament has been, by all measures, a resounding success that has balanced the need for a return to action with the health and safety of players.
The indications of this were there from the very start, as FC Dallas was withdrawn from the tournament due to the moronic insistence of remaining in Texas, where wearing a mask is a felony offense, for the weeks leading up to play. Although it isn’t a symptom of COVID, “Go Fever” – a term from the space industry reflecting an overeager attitude to be “Go” for launch at the expense of care or potential problems – was a very real risk for MLS. They were the first American sports league of any import to attempt a restart, and the eyes of the nation were upon them. You would have expected, in this case, Don Garber and the shadowy figures that run the league to insist on keeping Dallas in Orlando and attempting to get the negative tests required to begin play. Instead, MLS took quick and decisive action to remove them from the bubble to limit any potential overlap or exposure to other players. To prove this was not a fluke, the league doubled down by kicking Nashville out of the tournament as well, robbing everyone of ever learning if the club had sent a guy with a Gibson™ guitar down to fulfill their sponsorship obliged pre-match guitar riff.
With the health and safety aspects taken care, we can turn to the actual product itself. Thus far, everyone other than FC Cincinnati fans would have to declare the actual matches a resounding success. Although met with some questioning looks, the early-morning matches have been a fantastic addition to the sports lineup – as the boomers running these sports leagues finally figured out people working from home by the TV or sitting at a cubicle with their iPhones out aren’t actually working at 9AM. We’re seeing the evolution of soccer as a MEDIA product (not just a TV product) right before our eyes, and it’s thanks to MLS taking the chance amidst this pandemic.
So, after all that, I think it’s high time that the blue checkmarks and woke-lords on twitter sack up and offer MLS an apology. This tournament has worked. It has been fun to watch. And, most importantly, it has been safe for the players.
I’m sorry your doom and gloom predictions didn’t pan out, but try being happy for a change. Even though 2020 has sucked, it’s OK to smile and enjoy things every once in a while.