Archive for 2020

Sports Leagues Making Statements, Floyd Mayweather Will Pay For George Floyd’s Funeral, MLB & MLBPA Make Progress, Iowa Resumes HS Sports

NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB

According to Axos’ Jeff Tracy, 74 of 123 teams (60%) in the big four of American sports leagues issued official statements via twitter about George Floyd’s murder and the protests in this country. For a list of the teams making statements, click here.

Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather offered to pay for George Floyd’s funeral and memorial services in Floyd’s hometown of Houston as well as services in Minnesota and North Carolina.

BASEBALL

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association seem to be making progress in a negotiation about salaries that could potentially delay the start of the season. The owners want the players to take a significant pay cut based on fewer games in the season and no fans in the stands. The players already agreed to a prorated salary back in March and aren’t interested in giving back more. According to reports, the owners will now honor the prorated salaries

Iowa became the first state to resume high school sports. On Monday, the high school baseball and softball teams took to the field to practice for a supposed June 15th start to the season. There are a number of protocols in place to keep the players safe including discouraging high-fives and not eating sunflower seeds.

 

 

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The Nation Expresses Anger And Pain

The entire nation is focused on the horrendous death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes. Many members of the sports world have come out with statements protesting police brutality and racism. Michael Jordan tweeted, “I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough. I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all.”

 

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Alternative To Onside Kick, Boston Marathon Canceled

FOOTBALL

NFL owners tabled a discussion on an alternative to the onside kick. The proposal would have given teams the option (just twice in a game) of replacing a kickoff with one offensive down from their 25-yard line. If the offense gained 15 yards on the play, it would retain possession, but if they failed to advance, the other team would gain possession.

MARATHON

The Boston Marathon has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history. The race was originally scheduled for April 20th then postponed until September 14th. Now the race will be held virtually.

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NHL Playoff Plans, Lillard Says He Won’t Play, Dolphins Stadium A Drive-In Movie Theater

HOCKEY

The NHL unveiled tentative plans for returning. As of the latest iteration, 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament sometime in late July, with training camp beginning on July 1st. The NHL also said they would test players every evening for COVID-19. Commissioner Gary Bettman explained, however, that there are “no firm dates, and anybody who gives you a date is guessing.”

BASKETBALL

The Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard took some heat for saying he doesn’t have an interest in participating in games with his team if they don’t have a real opportunity to secure a playoff berth.  The Trail Blazers are 3.5 games out of the playoffs, but if the regular season is shortened, then Portland won’t have enough time to secure a playoff spot. Lillard is hoping there will be a play-in series instead (similar to the NHL plan).

The Basketball Hall of Fame announced they will postpone the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 (which included Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and the late Kobe Bryant) until the spring of 2021. The ceremony was originally scheduled for August.

FOOTBALL

The Miami Dolphins converted their Hard Rock Stadium into a drive-in movie theater. The theater can hold 230 automobiles.

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Brady/Manning Trash Talk In Memorable Match, Kyle Busch Wins At Charlotte Motor Speedway, SEC Volunteer Workouts June 8th

GOLF

The much anticipated The Match: Champions for Charity did not disappoint. After a rain-delayed start, Tom Brady entertained the crowd for the first half of the afternoon by shooting so poorly that Charles Barkley (among others) had a field day roasting him. In typical Brady fashion, though, he found his mojo and hit a beautiful hole-out birdie on the 7th hole. Peyton Manning more than held his own for the day, looking relaxed and shooting well. Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning were favorites, but even though they led most of the day, Brady and Phil Mickelson came back strong and ended up only losing by a single hole. The best part of the day was hearing Manning and Brady trash talk each other all afternoon. By all accounts, the charity event was a huge success raising $20 million and providing much-needed sports entertainment.

NASCAR

Kyle Busch beat out Austin Cindric on the final lap of overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With no fans in the stands, Busch won his 97th career Xfinity Series race which marked his 210th overall win across NASCAR’s top three series (the most of any driver).

NCAA

The SEC voted to allow voluntary workouts to resume on June 8th. This development is a step towards college sports resuming in the fall, which could help stem the financial suffering of college sports programs. Universities have already lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but if the 2020 football season is canceled, losses could rise up to $4 billion.

 

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Golf Resuming, Tiger Slam Debut, Champions For Charity Match, MLB’s Saliva Testing, Kraft’s Ring $1.025 Million

GOLF

Golf now plans to resume play in Europe in late July starting with the British Masters. In the U.S., the PGA is still planning on resuming June 11th in Texas.

Speaking of Golf, Sunday night at 8:00 pm ET, the Golf Channel will air “Tiger Slam” a documentary on Tiger Wood’s remarkable 10-month run from June 2000-April 2001 when he won all four major golf titles.  To make it a full golf day, you can also tune in at 3:00 pm for “The Match: Champions for Charity” which will feature Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. The mini-tournament raised $10 million for COVID-19 relief.

BASEBALL

Yesterday I mentioned there won’t be spitting in baseball, but now it’s been reported that Major League Baseball is hoping to use a new saliva collection method to test for COVID-19.

FOOTBALL

The New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl LI ring was auctioned for $1.025 million. The ring was auctioned as part of the All In Challenge, which is raising money to eliminate food insecurity during the pandemic.

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FC Seoul Fined For Sex Dolls, No Spitting In Baseball A Sacrifice

SOCCER

Soccer Club FC Seoul, a South Korean professional football team based in Seoul, was fined $82,000 won) by the K League 1 for using sex dolls to fill empty seats during a recent match. The fine was for “damaging the prestige and integrity of the league.” Teams are allowed to use mannequins to fill seats during the pandemic when fans aren’t allowed in the stadium, but the use of sex dolls was considered a violation. Club officials said, “Our intention was to do something lighthearted in these difficult times. We will think hard about what we need to do to ensure that something like this never happens again.” 

BASEBALL

One of Tom Hanks’ most memorable lines from “A League of Their Own” was “there’s no crying in baseball.” That might still be true, but now there’s no spitting in baseball. San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler told a radio station that one of the difficulties for players when (if) they return to the field will be adhering to the new guidelines…specifically the prohibition on spitting. He said, “When you’ve been doing it your whole life, it’s like breaking any habit. It’s going to be hard when things get stressful not to default to the habit. But I can tell you this: Everybody’s going to be committed to doing it because it’s so worth it. The trade-off between giving up that habit and getting to play baseball, we’ll play baseball all day long.” Many fans have weighed in and welcome this “sacrifice”!

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Bull Riding With Fans, Belmont Stakes On June 20th, Women’s Sports Network, NCAA Academic Progress Report

BULL RIDING

Bull riding will be the first pro sports event with live crowds. The tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. will be held July 10th-12th.

HORSE RACING

The Belmont Stakes will be held on June 20th (without fans) and will be reconfigured as the first leg (normally it’s the third and final leg) of the Triple Crown series. The Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September 5th and the Preakness Stakes on October 3rd. The Belmont (at 1.5 miles) has always been the tough finale to a six-week stretch which begins with the Derby. The 2020 Belmont is now slated to be 1 1/8 miles for the first time in its 152-year history which won’t be as big of a test of endurance as it’s been in years past.

WOMEN’S SPORTS NETWORK

Athletes Unlimited is launching a new network of sports leagues to try and reinvent women’s sports. The company, founded by Jon Patricof (former President of NYCFC and Tribeca Enterprises) and Jonathan Soros (son of billionaire George Soros), plan to launch three women’s leagues over the next three years. They will start with softball, debuting in August, and then launch volleyball for a debut in February 2021. The idea is to make the athletes more popular than the teams. Teams won’t have a city affiliation, and players will change teams on a weekly basis (accumulating points by wins and individual performances).

NCAA

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) report measures the academic performance of a sports team over a span of four years and measures graduation rates. The recently released report of men’s Division- I sports listed golf, ice hockey, and lacrosse with the highest APR’s, while FBS (football bowl subdivision) football, basketball, and FCS (football championship subdivision) football ranked the lowest. In women’s D-1 sports, gymnastics, lacrosse, and swimming ranked highest, while softball, track and field, and basketball ranked the lowest.

 

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Rooney Rule Expanded, Big Ben Trims Beard, NASCAR’s Increase In Viewers

FOOTBALL

The NFL is expanding the Rooney Rule, which was established in 2003 to address diversity and require teams to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching spot. The new rules require teams to interview at least two minority candidates for a head coaching spot and one minority candidate for any coordinator vacancies. The coordinator jobs are seen as feeders for head coaching positions, so this new rule is seen as significant. Since 2009, almost 40% of head coaches hired in the NFL were previously offensive coordinators.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had surgery eight months ago to repair his right elbow in an injury he suffered in week 2 of the season. Roethlisberger said he wasn’t going to shave his beard until he was making NFL caliber throws again. On Monday, he posted a video throwing to three of his teammates, James Conner, Ryan Switzer, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. He then posted a video of his haircut with a caption saying, The beard is trimmed……you know what that means”

 NASCAR

NASCAR’s return to live racing at Darlington Raceway over the weekend garnered a big increase in viewership averaging 6.32 million viewers, a 38% increase over their last pre-COVID-19 race.

 

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Harvick Wins Darlington, Magnus Carlsen’s Online Chess Tournament

NASCAR

Kevin Harvick won NASCAR’s first race back following a 10-week pause due to the pandemic. With no fans in the stands, Harvick (who recorded his 50th victory) spoke about his win at Darlington Raceway and said, “I just want to thank everybody from NASCAR and all the teams for letting us do what we do. I didn’t think it was going to be that different, then we won and it’s dead silent out here. We miss the fans.”

CHESS

Chess is one of the few sports that can easily be played and watched online, so it’s no wonder it’s gaining in popularity. World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen organized a successful and profitable online chess tournament, the Magnus Carlsen Invitational (which he won), and will be adding three more tournaments plus a grand final event with combined prize money of $1 million dollars. The tournament marks the first time online chess has been broadcast on TV. Carlsen is planning to kick off the next tournament on May 19th with the final on August 20th. Many athletes have been playing online chess recently including NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo who said, “Chess is tough, it takes skill. You can’t just be 7 feet and dunk over everybody.”

 

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