🏆 Hey hey hey, goodbye
The GIST: It’s not just cancelations and postponements these days. Nope, the sports world has now seen its first league shutdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Ouch.
Yikes! Which league?: The very new XFL. The football league, which was supposed to be the younger, funnier cousin of the NFL, was halfway through its first season when play was stopped on March 12th because of the pandemic. With the second half of the season canceled, the XFL laid off all employees last week before filing for bankruptcy on Monday. You hate to see it.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is apparently looking to expand to Toronto. Although this news actually has nothing to do with COVID-19, it’s worth noting that a league with millions of dollars and media support is folding, while a league lacking those resources is expanding. Pretty wild.
Very. Any other postponements?: Oui. The historic Tour de France cycling race is being postponed from its late June start date to August 29th. Not a big change, but the Tour hasn’t been canceled since WWII, so hopefully that will still hold true.
Does any league have a plan for returning yet?: The PGA seems pretty optimistic that they’ll be able to fire up the golf season in June. That said, the first tournament will take place without spectators, and plans for the PGA Championship in August (the first major of the season) includes scenarios without them, too. Honestly, we’ll still take it.
- The NHL is a little more hesitant. Commissioner Gary Bettman says they’re keeping their options open and won’t commit to any firm timelines or plans of action, but he did say his best guess would be a summer start. Again, fine by us!
Anyone else?: Dr. Anthony Fauci (aka the voice of reason) wants to see his reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals play again, so he has an idea. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that if physical distancing measures continue and the curve flattens, the MLB could return, albeit in empty stadiums, by July 4th. Now that would be the best Fourth of July present...ever.
- And over in the NBA, various execs are proposing a 25-day plan, in which players would go through an 11-day individualized training camp to start getting back into game shape, followed by two weeks of actual training camp with teammates. No word on when this would start, as the league says they won’t make a decision until May.
🏆 Tell me something good
The GIST: The COVID-19 pandemic is kind of bumming us out, so let’s just talk about the good news stories today, cool?
Cool! What’s good?: Earlier this week, hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser (keep scrolling for more on her) put out a call on Twitter for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations for Toronto hospitals, offering “a signed jersey, a smile and guaranteed good karma” in return. Then Blake Lively’s husband, Ryan Reynolds, upped the ante.
- Reynolds said that in exchange for PPE donations, he’d give autographs, signed memorabilia and even “raise your children as if they were my own.” Sign us up! Wick, who’s currently in medical school (is there anything she can’t do?), and Reynolds have now teamed up with Conquer COVID-19 to run weekly PPE donation drives in Toronto.
Love that! What else d’you got?: Well, speaking of PPE, snowboarding company Burton and hockey equipment manufacturer CCM are each making and donating 500,000 masks to frontline workers in Canada and the US. Donna Burton Carpenter, owner of Burton, is using her own money to fund the manufacturing of the masks, while CCM’s sponsored players, like superstar Sidney Crosby, are donating to the cause.
- Tampa Bay’s newest celebrity couple, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (doesn’t that sound so weird?!) and supermodel Gisele Bündchen have donated 750,000 meals to their new hometown’s food banks. Way to make good with the new fans!
So amazing! Anymore?: On Monday, we told you about a potential televised game of H-O-R-S-E that would have NBA stars playing the classic playground game with a physical-distancing twist. Well, it looks like it’s actually in the works and is set to feature Oklahoma City Thunder Chris Paul, Chicago Bull Zach LaVine, Atlanta Hawk and TikTok king Trae Young, and some as-of-yet unnamed WNBA stars. So freaking fun!
- Tennis star Roger Federer continued his new #tennisathome social media challenge, promoting staying home and physical distancing, with a solo drill on Twitter. Fellow tennis player Sofia Kenin quickly joined in the fun, and non-tennis stars like skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn and soccer player Toni Kroos had a go, too.
🏆 Hey sister, soul sister
The GIST: Siblings. They’re your loyal lifelong best friends and your most formidable foes wrapped up in one. And today we’re celebrating that, shall we say, “special” relationship by giving #thegist of the top three sister acts in sports right now.
The Ogwumike (pronounced OH-GWOO-MIH-KAY) sisters: The Ogwumikes are the OG basketball family. The leader of this four-sister pack is big sis (no surprise there, right?) Nneka. At 6'2", Nneka is a force to be reckoned with: she was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft, was named 2016 WNBA MVP and won the WNBA Championships in 2016. Sheesh. She currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks where she packs a v. nice one-two punch with her little sister (although, at 6'3" she’s not that little), Chiney, who is also a basketball analyst for ESPN.
- And while the oldest sisters have the WNBA on lock, the youngest sisters, Olivia and Erica, are taking care of college ball, playing together at Rice University. Whatever is in this family’s genes, we want it.
The Lamoureux (LAMB-AH-ROW) twins: Americans love ’em, and Canadians...well, as much as they’re too nice to admit it, don’t. Team USA hockey stars Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux have it all: speed, agility, grittiness and, most importantly, that eerie twin sixth sense that tells them exactly where the other one is on the ice at all times.
- The pair have each won two silver Olympic medals, one Olympic gold and six world championships. Talk about #twingoals. And speaking of twins and sports, why not add Switching Goals to your isolation watch list?
The Williams sisters: These two need no introduction. Hands down, Venus and Serena are the most celebrated and popular sisters in the
sports world. And rightfully so. Venus has racked up seven singles grand slams while little sister Serena has won 23, the most of any woman or man in the Open Era. And they’ve done so all while facing racism in a traditionally white sport.
- Venus and Serena have the classic “you are my best friend I love you so much” but also “you are my biggest competitor” sister mentality. One day they’ll be squaring off in a fierce singles match, and the next they’ll be winning doubles matches together. We’ve been lucky to watch Venus and Serena play for over 25 years and can’t wait for more.
🏆 Oh no she better don’t!
The GIST: The coronavirus has crossed a line in sports. First it came for our players, and then our coaches, managers, arena staff and team owners. But now it has come for our lord and savior NBA analyst and ceiling smasher Doris Burke and we are not okay with it.
Not Doris!: Yes, Doris. During Friday’s episode of The Woj Pod, the ESPN personality revealed that she had tested positive for COVID-19 after falling ill on March 11th. Her symptoms included extreme fatigue and headaches, and she’s been in self-isolation for nearly two weeks.
- It’s not all bad though. Burke said that she’s mostly symptom-free now, and once she’s cleared to return to normal life (whatever normal means now), she’d like to donate blood plasma, which could help the researchers studying antibodies to find a vaccine. What a gem.
Do any other sports folk have COVID?: The Colorado Avalanche said on Saturday that a second player has been diagnosed, and the Ottawa Senators’ play-by-play announcer Gord Wilson, who was on a roadtrip with the team when the NHL season was suspended, also tested positive. The owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, James Dolan, has it too.
- But some good news: Utah Jazz Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the first and second NBA players to have fallen ill with COVID-19, have officially been cleared. So happy to hear it!
Awesome. Any more good news?: But of course. Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Ballmer are pledging $25 million for COVID-19 relief funds as well as vaccine research, despite Ballmer predicting that his team will lose around $10 million during the season suspension. Now this is what we’re talking about!
- Meanwhile, sports apparel companies Fanatics and Brian’s Custom Sports are changing up their production lines to help make personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Fanatics is using actual MLB jersey material for gowns and facemasks, meaning some front-line staff may find themselves in the New York Yankees’ iconic pinstripe. Weird, but we like it.
Yes! Gimme more!: Over in Italy, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, coach Maurizio Sarri and the rest of the Juventus squad have agreed to give up four months’ wages, allowing the team, which plays in one of the hardest hit areas in the world, to save €90 million. Ronaldo has already donated €1 million to pandemic relief in his home country of Portugal.
- And one of Rome’s soccer teams, AS Roma, is helping out their most vulnerable fans by sending out “Roma Cares” care packages to every season ticket holder over 75. The package includes food (pasta, obviously), beer, hand sanitizer, protective gear, newspapers and an AS Roma scarf. So sweet!
🏆 Good as hell
We salute you: The Vancouver Canucks put a hockey spin on the growing movement to salute healthcare workers. While Spaniards and Italians are continuing their nightly displays of gratitude, the Canucks are encouraging their fans to join them for a daily stick tap at 7 p.m. Just give it a little tap, tap, taperoo!
Take my money: Over a hundred athletes and sports organizations have joined Athletes for COVID-19 Relief, which is collecting and auctioning off sports memorabilia to raise funds for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, and others, such as tennis legend Roger Federer and European soccer coach Pep Guardiola, are pledging huge (like 1 million euros huge) monetary donations to help other relief funds around the world.
Suit up: Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer is in the PPE (personal protective equipment) business now. With no immediate demand for hockey garb, Bauer is repurposing its resources to make protective visors for medical staff. They’re planning on pumping out 2,000 visors a day. So awesome.
Quid pro quo: Sportscaster Joe Buck is using his voice for good. In an attempt to stay in mid-season form, the commentator is doing play-by-play of random videos that fans are sending him on Twitter. The catch? If Joe picks your video, you have to pledge to donate to a charity. A good laugh for a good cause!