The Premier Lacrosse League is set to host a quarantined and fanless tournament later this summer, in lieu of its normal season that was postponed on April 10 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announced Tuesday morning, the PLL Championship Series will take place from July 25 to August 9, with all games, operations and personnel being held at a single location for the duration of the series.
The PLL is the first team-sports league in North America to announce a plan to restart play, and has laid out its proposal on how to keep its players and staff safe during the 16-day event.
“We’re hoping that other pro leagues can use this model as an indicator to do something where we can bring sports back that’s medically safe,” said PLL co-founder Paul Rabil on NBC’s “Today” show.
Rabil said he and other league executives created a medical committee made up of infectious disease doctors, experts on internal medicine and the official PLL doctor. The committee developed the “three tier testing policy” that Rabil said is the safest strategy against COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible during play.
“You have to put medical safety at the forefront of any decision,” said the former Johns Hopkins midfielder. “It will begin with testing at home, we will have testing on site for everyone who arrives, as well as testing throughout [the event].”
"So it's fully quarantined, which means we're rolling out a robust medical protocol."
— Premier Lacrosse League (@PremierLacrosse) May 6, 2020
Rabil did stress, however, that after consulting with the CDC and WHO, the league can be sure that its use of testing will not affect the availability of tests for the greater public, as other methods of testing and treatments become more common.
“A sports league that is providing testing to its players preventatively shouldn’t be in a position where we are potentially pulling Covid tests from those who need it symptomatically.”
Rabil said it might be difficult for larger leagues such as the NFL, NBA and MLB to make this strategy of quarantine and testing work.
“We have power in fewer numbers,” Rabil said.
With only seven teams and fewer than 300 people involved in the entire Championship Series operation, including medical and broadcast personnel, Rabil said he believes the logistics and safety of the league is much easier to manage.