The NBA produced a 113-page manual on health and safety protocols for the league’s resumption at Disney World. The multi-bullet-pointed section on ping pong includes:
Until directed otherwise by the NBA, players should play singles only so that they can maintain six feet of distance from each other.
“The ping pong thing is ridiculous. To be honest,” San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said on Thursday. “Guys can’t do this, but we can do this and battle over each other. That part just don’t make no sense to me. I got through 10 lines of the handbook and just put it down because it became so frustrating and overwhelming at times because you just never thought you’d be in a situation of something like this. So it’s hard to process at times.”
DeRozan’s exasperation is completely understandable. The manual is long and full of scientific jargon in addition to rules that seem trivial.
But the NBA’s plan is logical.
Both basketball games and doubles ping pong are generally unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic. The big difference: NBA basketball games produce a lot of money. So, the league and players are willing to risk playing them.
The goal is to isolate players from the outside world and test them frequently, minimizing the chances of them playing basketball with coronavirus. There’s a risk someone gets infected anyway, so limiting opportunities for someone to spread coronavirus – like doubles ping pong or, more importantly, getting close to someone outside the bubble – are being minimized.
But hopefully, players abide by the rules designed keep them safe… and highly paid. Whether or not they read all 113 pages, participating players are signing up for this.