The high five has been low-bridged by the NBA out of concern for the well-being of players and fans at games. It’s the latest reaction to the growing coronavirus outbreak that for the first time is being blamed for deaths in the United States.
NBA memo encourages players to take precautions
The NBA has sent a memo to its teams advising players to limit their physical contact with fans as a precaution against exposure to coronavirus. Other major American leagues have released statements saying they are monitoring the outbreak and are consulting with medical experts, but the basketball league’s advisory is the strongest sign yet of concern in the sports world.
Federal and state officials say the number of diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has surpassed 100 across 15 states, with six deaths reported this week in the state of Washington. There have been more than 89,000 people infected and 3,000 deaths worldwide thus far.
The league’s memo to its teams suggests that players give fans a fist bump rather than a high five. It goes further by recommending that players stop accepting items handed to them for autographs such as jerseys, balls, and pens. Teams were also advised to clean frequently touched surfaces and to recommend to players and staff that they avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
“The health and safety of NBA players, coaches, staff, and fans is paramount. Working with infectious disease experts, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are providing the following information for players related to the coronavirus outbreak.”NBA memo to its players and teams
The NBA told teams that it is consulting with infectious disease experts, including the Centers for Disease Control.
Some players were already limiting fan contact
Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum wrote on social media over the weekend that he would not be signing autographs because of coronavirus concerns.
“You just have to be careful,” McCollum said Monday after scoring 41 points in the Trail Blazers’ 130-107 victory over the Orland Magic. ”Obviously it’s affecting people, especially people who are displaying weaker immune systems and people over 60.”
New York Knicks forward Bobby Portis explained that coronavirus was a factor in his replacing high fives with fist bumps with fans before scoring 15 points in 18 minutes in a 125-123 win over the Houston Rockets.
Soccer players from Arsenal and Portsmouth exchanged fist bumps rather than the traditional pre-match handshakes earlier Monday ahead of their FA Cup game. Players from another English team, Southampton, have stopped shaking hands with fans and teammates.
Coronavirus concerns affecting schedules
Italian authorities have postponed soccer games the past two weekends in response to a coronavirus outbreak in the country. Three players there have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
The LPGA has already canceled scheduled tournaments in Thailand, Singapore, and China’s Hainan Island province. The tour will remain dark until March 19-22 in Phoenix.
Track and field scrapped its World Indoor Championships that were to be held in Nanjing, China, and rescheduled the meet for March 2021.
In auto racing, Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix will not take place as planned April 19 in Shanghai. China has also lost out on its first FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Yanqing, which was to serve as test preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.