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The National Basketball Association has announced plans to have fans attend their games virtually when the season restarts on July 30. The NBA season was suspended on March 11 when a player tested positive for Covid-19 and no games have been played since then. The season was supposed to end in June but officials had been unable to procure a safe way to continue until now. The season will continue in one location instead of teams travelling around North America during the coronavirus pandemic.

All NBA games will now be played at Disneyworld in Florida and the NBA has been busy setting up a small city to quarantine all players, staff and officials while they play the remaining games of the season. Teams which were mathematically unable to make it to the NBA playoffs are not allowed to play any more games this season. Only teams which have a chance of winning will be allowed to attend.

Major sports leagues around the world have been trying to find ways to finish or start their seasons despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Some leagues cancelled the rest of their seasons completely while others have come up with unique solutions to keep their athletes and staff safe. The majority of major sports have been played without fans, although some countries have now started to welcome fans again as they have got the virus under control. Others have found interesting ways to find the same feeling that is normally felt by the players and fans during games.

South Korean baseball teams temporarily put pictures of fans in the stands to make it look like the stadium was full but fans are now able to attend games in Korea again. In Japan, the baseball team Fukuoka Softbank Hawks introduced dancing robots in their stadiums to replace fans. The NBA’s solution is to have fans join a video call which is shown around the court. Around 300 fans will be able to join a Microsoft Teams call together and watch the game with their videos being displayed around the court on giant screens. This is supposed to give the players the feeling that they are playing in front of a live audience and give the fans an exceptional experience.

It is uncertain how fans will be chosen to be on the screens and part of the call but it should make for interesting viewing for the people watching on TV at home.

Difficult words

Virtually (adv): Done over the internet or through a computer.

Suspend (v): To stop something temporarily.

Official (n): An authorised person.

Procure (v): To obtain something.

Mathematically (adv): By means of mathematics.

Playoffs (n): A game to decide what team wins a competition.

Despite (preposition): To occur even though something else occurred.

Temporarily (adv): To happen for a short time, not forever.

Exceptional (adj): Extremely special.

Activities

For listening practice, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Virtually A. Stop temporarily.
2. Suspend B. Last game.
3. Official C. Obtain
4. Procure D. Online
5. Mathematically E. Extra special.
6. Playoffs F. Authorised
7. Despite G. For a short time.
8. Temporarily H. Even though.
9. Exceptional I. Using math.

True or False?

1.  Fans will be able to physically attend NBA games from July 30th. T / F

2. No NBA players ever tested positive for Covid-19. T / F

3. The teams will not be travelling across the country. T / F

4. The NBA games will take place in a different country which has fewer coronavirus cases.   T / F

5. Not all NBA teams will be allowed to play. T / F

6. Players and staff are allowed to leave the quarantine zone to visit family.  T / F

7. Many sports leagues have had trouble finishing their seasons.  T / F

8. Some countries are allowing fans to come back to the stadiums. T / F

9. Japan has filled stadiums with pictures of people.    T / F

10. Large screens will be put around the NBA stadium. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. will / season / The / one / of / teams / instead / continue / in / travelling / location

2. Florida / played / Disneyworld / will / at / NBA / in / All / games / now / be

3. the / rest / cancelled / of / completely / leagues / Some / their / seasons

4. sports / majority / without / The / major / played / of / been / fans / have

5. video / to / join / call / solution / have / a / NBA’s / The / fans / is

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Displayed Remaining Normally
Announced Experience Unable
Viewing Leagues Introduced

The National Basketball Association has (1)_______________ plans to have fans attend their games virtually when the season restarts on July 30. The NBA season was suspended on March 11 when a player tested positive for Covid-19 and no games have been played since then. The season was supposed to end in June but officials had been (2)___________ to procure a safe way to continue until now. The season will continue in one location instead of teams travelling around North America during the coronavirus pandemic.

All NBA games will now be played at Disneyworld in Florida and the NBA has been busy setting up a small city to quarantine all players, staff and officials while they play the (3)_______________ games of the season. Teams which were mathematically unable to make it to the NBA playoffs are not allowed to play any more games this season. Only teams which have a chance of winning will be allowed to attend.

Major sports (4)____________ around the world have been trying to find ways to finish or start their seasons despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Some leagues cancelled the rest of their seasons completely while others have come up with unique solutions to keep their athletes and staff safe. The majority of major sports have been played without fans, although some countries have now started to welcome fans again as they have got the virus under control. Others have found interesting ways to find the same feeling that is (5)____________ felt by the players and fans during games.

South Korean baseball teams temporarily put pictures of fans in the stands to make it look like the stadium was full but fans are now able to attend games in Korea again. In Japan, the baseball team Fukuoka Softbank Hawks (6)_____________ dancing robots in their stadiums to replace fans. The NBA’s solution is to have fans join a video call which is shown around the court. Around 300 fans will be able to join a Microsoft Teams call together and watch the game with their videos being (7)_____________ around the court on giant screens. This is supposed to give the players the feeling that they are playing in front of a live audience and give the fans an exceptional (8)____________.

It’s uncertain how fans will be chosen to be on the screens and part of the call but it should make for interesting (9)_____________ for the people watching on TV at home.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What do you know about the NBA?
5. Is basketball popular in your country?
6. What is the most-watched sport in your country?
7. What has happened to sports events in your country during Covid-19?
8. Do you like watching sports?
9. Have any major sports games been cancelled in your country?
10. What do you think about the NBA’s plans for virtual fans?
11. Do you think fans are necessary for live games?
12. Have you ever been to a professional sports game?
13. Do you agree with the NBA finishing their season during the pandemic?
14. Do you think it is possible to safely allow people to attend sports games these days?
15. Would you go to a public event like a sports game or concert now?
16. What do you think about the Olympics being cancelled?
17. Do you think the Olympics will still happen in 2021?
18. Is it important for sports to start again?
19. Have you been disappointed by any televised events being cancelled because of Covid-19?
20. Have any famous athletes tested positive for Covid-19 in your country?