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MLS will limit reporters’ access to players due to coronavirus concerns

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Players will be interviewed outside locker rooms following games and, in some cases, behind barriers at training.

In what may be the first of several moves in response to growing concerns around coronavirus, MLS joined with the other three in-season major sports leagues in North America to temporarily bar reporters from postgame locker rooms.

The various organizations that represent reporters released their own collective statement. It was not necessarily supportive of the decision, but also stopped well short of openly criticizing it.

Perhaps in an acknowledgement of the particularly acute situation in our area, the Seattle Sounders went one step further and set up a physical barrier at Tuesday’s training session.

These are all pretty rudimentary responses. Limiting this sort of person-to-person contact is surely not the kind of solution that will, on its own, seriously limit the spread of coronavirus. The players are not particularly likely to contract coronavirus from relatively small groups of reporters. But it does eliminate at least one touch point and seem like sensible measures, especially if we take the leagues’ words that they are only temporary.

My only real concern is that leagues convince themselves that limiting access permanently will have no negative effect. My suspicion is that the longer these actions go on, the less informed readers will be about players and teams. A site like Sounder at Heart would be nothing close to what it is without this sort of access and it would become much harder for a team like the Sounders to maintain the relationship it has with fans if these kinds of barriers become permanent.