SGN – Sports Edition | May 5th, 2020
As we all continue to hold down the fort, here are some positive thoughts and moments from the sports world to get us through
With the end of the spring college semester in full swing, it is only right we kick things off with a massive update from the NCAA. FINALLY student athletes might be able to cash in on their name, image and likeness. This proposal was approved at a high-level last week as a direct response to the NBA G-League signing highly touted high-school basketball recruits, most notably No. 1 ranked 2020 prospect Jalen Green. Coaches such as Memphis’ former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway are appalled by the G-League’s ‘tampering’ of their recruits. What goes around comes back around, Penny. The proposed rule will allow programs athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements, social media influence, personal appearances and their own businesses — all for the first time.
The new rule will drastically change the landscape of college sports, as the NCAA looks to compete with professional leagues like the NBA, who are looking to add young talent. The rules are expected to be written by Oct. 31 with a vote that will occur no later than January 31st of 2021. Hopefully somewhere between now and then the NCAA will find a way to bring back its’ infamous basketball and football video games.
It’s official: the last signs of winter are finally behind us (looking at you, New England) and quarantine spring fever is in the air. This is especially true for players and leagues getting the itch to start playing again. We kick things off with the NBA, who has been actively planning and will begin re-opening some team facilities starting May 8th.
New developments around a “bubble” concept have arisen that could lead to the return of games in Walt Disney Resort in Orlando or MGM’s Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. According to league sources, there are many factors going into the restart, including multiple games played simultaneously – but the biggest factor begins with a T and rhymes with Nesting.
Medical experts differ on how often testing would have to be performed to maintain bubble integrity. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been a key resource for Americans during this crisis (or was it Brad Pitt?), believes sports could resume with weekly testing of athletes, so long as they are closely monitored. Others in the medical field believe it would take daily testing to ensure safety of everyone, most importantly older coaches and team personnel like Gregg Popovich (71) and Mike D’Antoni (68).
Looking further out, the NBA has also announced plans to postpone two key May-events, the NBA draft combine and the always entertaining draft lottery. This comes with talks around pushing other key dates, such as the draft itself into the late summer and the start of the 2020-21 season to December.
On the ice, the NHL announced last week plans to begin “Phase 2” of their process to resume play of the 2019-20 season following “Phase 1,” which was player quarantine. The second phase, will allow players to return to small group activities within team training facilities. Although no specific date has been released on expectations for this anticipated next step, there remains optimism that by mid-to-late May players will be back in skates.
Only a week following its’ first and hopefully last virtual draft, the NFL is set to announce the 2020-21 schedule this Thursday at 8PM live on NFL Network. According to an ESPN report, the league will release its 2020 schedule without any major changes, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed — including a September 10th opener and the Super Bowl on February 7th and visions of fans in the stands. “Bold strategy, Cotton”, but have no fear, the league has contingency plans in place to adapt to the COVID-19 landscape, including no bye weeks and an October start to the season.
Nearly three months after helping the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic near his hometown of Montreal. The Chiefs right guard, who earned his doctorate in medicine in 2018, signed up for Canada’s health ministry campaign to aid in fighting the pandemic. Following the Super Bowl victory, Laurent celebrated like any champion would, by sailing on a 40-foot boat with his girlfriend in the Caribbean. Upon his return to Canada, however, he knew his offseason would look a lot different. Laurent put on a different kind of jersey after a 14-day quarantine to help his fellow Canadians during this crisis. Like a true lineman, Laurent is doing the dirty work and putting his body on the line for others who need his help most. Huge thank you to Laurent and all the other health care workers continuing to fight for us every day.
Despite being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this offseason, former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston left for rival New Orleans on a positive note as he donated 500 meals to families in need.
New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is donating 15,000 face shields to underserved hospitals in New York and Los Angeles to assist medical workers in the fight against COVID-19. Stanton is focusing on urban communities who are getting hit the hardest during the pandemic, stating, “The African-American and Latino communities are hit the hardest, Stanton told the Los Angeles Times. Those hospitals have the least resources. They were depleted.”
Lastly, major news this morning from some of the PGA’s biggest names, as the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity golf match will be played on May 17th at Seminole Golf Club. Get your popcorn ready folks; the event will feature Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson facing Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. McIlroy and Johnson’s team will be playing for the American Nurse Foundation, while Fowler and Wolff will play for the CDC Foundation in a winner-take-all $3 million purse to their charity. Additionally, Farmers Insurance will donate $1 million to Off Their Plate, an organization focused on providing meals to healthcare workers on the frontlines. The charity match will be one of the first sporting events to be aired on television amidst the pandemic, and will feature fan-favorite Mike Tirico broadcasting. As a Rickie Fowler fan, my calendar is marked.
That’s it for this run! Be sure to check back same time next week for more features, stories, and updates that fill the current sports void in our lives.