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🏈The 2020 College Football Season Begins

August 31, 2020
SOURCE: BUTCH DILL/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: BUTCH DILL/GETTY IMAGES

 The GIST: This weekend brought us the day that we all thought might never come: the start of the 2020 college football season!

Who played?: Despite their conferences (Ohio Valley conference and Southland conference) postponing fall conference competition to the spring, Austin Peay State University took on Central Arkansas in a non-conference matchup. While the two teams aren’t well known, Austin Peay still opened things up with a bang, scoring an incredible touchdown on the very first play of the season. Sheesh.

  • Central Arkansas ultimately won and there were some fun antics on the sideline, but the key takeaway from Saturday’s game is what it signals for the rest of the college football season.

What did it show?: We already knew this, but things will be different this season. Saturday’s 25,000-seat stadium hosted a limited crowd of 2,000 fans, creating an eerie atmosphere.

What’s next?: While we can’t tailgate (at least in most places), September *knock on wood* will bring the college football Saturdays we know and love. And although we have to wait until mid-September to watch teams from the still-playing Power Five conferences, there’s a packed Week 1 schedule to tide us over. As things ramp up, we’re tightening

🏆Leagues and Athletes Across North America Boycott Games in Protest of Racial Injustice

August 27, 2020
KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES
KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Yesterday, in protest of racial injustice, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their NBA playoff game. And, in one of the strongest collective actions we’ve seen in sports, the rest of the league and athletes from across North America are following suit.

The background: The boycott comes after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by police on Sunday, in front of his three young sons, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He is now paralyzed from the waist down. Blake is just the latest in a too-long list of Black men and women who have been killed or injured at the hands of police.

The boycotts: Now the NBA is leading the charge in taking action. It started on Tuesday when the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics players met to discuss boycotting Game 1 of their conference semifinal series, scheduled for today. Raps head coach Nick Nurse even said that some of his players were considering leaving the bubble altogether.

  • Then yesterday, as the buzzer sounded ahead of the first game of the day, Bucks players stayed in their locker room, deciding to boycott Game 5 against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks later released this players’ statement explaining their incredibly powerful action.
  • A few hours later, the NBA and their players association announced that, in light of the Bucks’ decision, Wednesday’s remaining games between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, and the LA Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, would also be postponed and rescheduled.

The team: The NBA is not alone in this. WNBA players also boycotted all three of their regular season games last night, and three MLB and five MLS games were boycotted, too.

The next steps?: We’re still waiting for them. Last night, NBA players held a meeting to decide on how to proceed, and the LA Lakers and Clippers were the only teams that voted to boycott the remainder of the season.

  • Regardless of what happens next, the players have already made a strong statement. By boycotting an entire day of games, the players forced networks to fill hours of empty airtime by highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustice that happened to Jacob Blake.  
     
  • We’re giving a standing ovation to the players who are keeping the conversation going and elevating it to an unprecedented level. Black Lives Matter.
🏈

The NFL Releases Various Protocols On Returning to Play With Fans in the Stands

August 27, 2020
ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES
ROBERT LABERGE/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Sports fans in North America will soon have primetime games with real crowd noise. But the jury’s still out if hosting fans during the COVID-19 pandemic is the best call.

The NFL is split: NFL teams continue to release varying protocols for in-person attendance this season. Some teams will hold their stadiums to a limited capacity while others will have no fans for the duration of the season. But is it really fair to have such wildly different standards?

We say no: You might expect professional athletes to be able to ignore cheers and boos from spectators, but fans really do impact the game, especially in football. Commonly referred to as the “12th (wo)man,” fan noise during the opposing team's offensive plays makes it super hard for them to communicate. And you thought you couldn’t concentrate.

  • With that in mind, the NFL teams playing in front of even a limited-capacity home crowd will definitely have an advantage over those playing in empty stadiums, with some coaches saying the disparity is “ridiculous.” Something to consider when choosing your fantasy team?

The other football: Over in the MLS, despite a successful “MLS is Back” tournament that was played without fans, some teams are already competing in front of fans and many are thinking about it.

  • We totally understand the desire to return to a sense of normalcy...but things still aren’t normal. Catch us streaming all of the action from home — the snacks are cheaper here anyway!

🏒Flyers and Islanders Face Tied Series After Game 2, Lightning Score Seven Goals to Beat Bruins

August 27, 2020
MARK MASTERS/TWITTER
MARK MASTERS/TWITTER

The GIST: Thanks to the NHL’s lack of genuine support last night, there were still a few playoff games to watch. Here are a few highlights from the night.

“From downtown!”: The Philadelphia Flyers tied up their series against the New York Islanders yesterday afternoon, with an overtime goal for the ages from Phil Myers to close out Game 2.

Point for Point: It’s hard to choose a favorite goal when the Tampa Bay Lightning score seven of them, but we’ll go with this beauty of breakaway from Brayden Point. The Lightning obviously took this one 7–1 against the Boston Bruins.

“I don’t think we should be here”: Former NHL goalie and current Sportsnet analyst Kelly Hrudey spoke the truth ahead of the Boston-Tampa Bay game last night. We couldn’t agree more.

NWSL Announces Fall Series

August 27, 2020
NWSL/TWITTER
NWSL/TWITTER

The GIST: After a v. successful return-to-play tournament in July, the NWSL is coming back, baby.

What’s going on?: After initially saying that the Challenge Cup would stand in for the regular season, the NWSL has changed its mind and decided to give us more soccer with the NWSL Fall Series.

  • The nine teams will be split into three regionalized “pods” to help cut down on travel, and each team will play four games against the two other teams in their pod — two at home, two away — between September 5th (yes, so soon!) and October 17th. No word on what playoffs will look like yet (if they even happen at all).

What made them come back?: The decision to return to the pitch is largely based on the success of the Challenge Cup. Over the summer, the league saw massive increases in TV revenue and their fanbase, and they received huge props for keeping players, staff and their families safe in the OG bubble environment in Utah.

  • At least four games will be broadcast nationally on CBS, and the league is looking to benefit from the significant decrease of college sports in the fall. Based on local and state guidelines, some games could even allow for live spectators. As long as the league can do it right, we’re falling for the Fall Series.