Check out excerpts from The Athletic online magazine that ask Travis about locker rooms in today’s new environment.
Hollman said he believes there are ways to help limit exposure through the locker rooms themselves. His company has been using anti-microbial material in lockers for years to help lower the risk of staph and bacterial infections, and he wants to use copper and silver plating on lockers because, he said, the virus does not live as long on those surfaces.
His company has already implemented design plans in other locker rooms they believe will prove useful in mitigating the spread of coronavirus, even if the original intent didn’t have the pandemic in mind yet. Hollman said that their construction of the Alabama football locker rooms will have, essentially, personal pods where players can use zero-grab chairs and burrow about 3 to 4 feet into cubbies to isolate themselves from their teammates. It is, he said, akin to being inside a closet because the program wanted a space where players could also take naps.
There are also plans to create a self-cleaning locker room at Duke that Hollman said will be even more important now. The room would have self-locking doors that operate on a timer. When the doors close, the space would be blasted by UV light. Initially, the intent was to kill bacteria on uniforms and shoes and to sterilize the room during absent periods. There is some belief that UV lighting could help cleanse away the virus.
“We feel the locker room environment creates this team atmosphere, so we want to keep the environment as close to as what it is now as possible,” Hollman said. “We really think it’s going (to be done) with these lighting, with sterilization, with material use. It will get to us to a better locker room that people feel safer in.”
“We’re trying to engineer the virus out of the system,” he added.
All of these ideas, as Hollman noted, can only help so much. The nature of basketball and football, and sometimes baseball, involves human contact. The NBA will create an ecosystem that traps in hundreds of players, coaches, and executives, then asks them to play inside an arena with no physical distancing; while Disney World employees enter and exit the bubble when they need to.
Locker rooms then will be about mitigation, not prevention.