MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS Limiting Locker Room Access Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Concerns over the coronavirus outbreak have forced four major sports leagues to limit access to the players’ locker rooms, according to USA Today.

The coronavirus has been spreading throughout the United States after an outbreak was discovered in China late last year. Due to fears of the virus spreading, Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) earlier this week issued an unprecedented joint statement: 

“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms, and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s games and practices.

“We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”

No games in any of the professional sports leagues are expected to be canceled or postponed and all regularly scheduled events will still take place.

As expected, this news was met with some resistance as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released a statement via Twitter saying access to the clubhouse is “essential for our jobs.”

“The decision by Major League Baseball to join other leagues in closing the clubhouse to media is disappointing, even as a ‘temporary step,’ and we desire to work with MLB and MLBPA to discuss solutions beneficial to the players and media alike, until we can return to the access that allows us to chronicle the game and humanize its performers like no other sport,” the statement, in part, read.

Yet, there are others who understand. The Professional Basketball Writers Association responded with a statement of its own:

“The coronavirus poses a serious health threat to everyone. The Professional Basketball Writers Association believes the safety of fans, players, team employees, arena workers and the media who cover the league must be protected. Our thoughts are with all people who already have been adversely impacted by the virus.

“Therefore, we understand the NBA’s decision to temporarily close locker rooms to everyone but players and essential team personnel with the NBA’s promise that once the coronavirus crisis abates, the league will restore full access to the journalists who cover the league.

“Our members remain committed to providing thorough, insightful, and fair coverage. Locker room access is essential to good sports journalism. It allows for mutually respectful working relationships to be built, story ideas to form, and for organic conversation to occur. It leads to richer stories and more informed reporting.”

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