Last 2 Weeks in Review
Welcome to this edition of our State of Sports blog! The sports world has been a buzz with stories and we are only able to cover a few in our blog posts and podcasts, so here is everything we’ve covered and everything we missed! This post features news about college football’s most recent conflicting views on playing during the pandemic, COVID-19 news, and updates on the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Early last week, while many college football conferences we’re still contemplating whether or not to play the football season, PAC-12 student-athletes started a movement. The #WeAreUnited movement, started by players, started from a need to protect themselves from COVID-19 while playing a full contact sport. It then evolved into a movement for advocating for all student-athletes. In a piece published in The Players’ Tribune, called for health and safety protections, reduced excessive salaries of administrators and coaches, an end to racial injustice in college sport, and economic concessions from conferences.¹
The #WeWantToPlay movement was gaining traction at a similar time as #WeAreUnited. This second movement urged conferences to go ahead with the fall season, with big time players such as Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Justin Fields of Ohio State, and Najee Harris of Alabama speaking out in support. These two movements joined forces on August 10th to both urge conferences to go forward and do it in a safe way.⁶ Despite these players wanting to play, the PAC-12, Big Ten, MAC, and Mountain West are just a few of college conferences that have already canceled their seasons.⁷
Last Friday Derrius Guice, now former running back of the Washington Football team, was released due directly to his arrest on multiple domestic violence charges. Since then, two women have come out saying that Guice raped them in 2016 during his freshman year at LSU. USA Today reported that at least two coaches, an athletics administrator, and a nurse were all aware of the situation and did nothing10. Guice became a fan favorite during his time with Washington as he was involved heavily with the community, but had trouble staying on the field with injuries. The When The Lights Go Out crew recognizes that these are ‘allegations’ of rape but stand firmly in believing women who are victims of sexual assault and are committed to following this story as more information comes out.
There will be no preseason games played in the NFL, and many teams have announced limited seating or that no fans will be in attendance during the beginning of the regular season. Concerns that the pandemic will be prolonged have caused numerous changes to the NFL season and it would seem there will be plenty more to come as the situation evolves. From a football perspective, it will be very difficult for teams to get into rhythm as they will begin the opener of the season having not played against another team which seems to help teams who have consistency from last season. It also means that younger players and edge-of-roster players will have a harder time to make the team as they will not have as much time to show their talents to the coaching staff.
Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints and COVID-19 survivor, suggested a bubble-format for the NFL playoffs in a competition committee conference11. The successes of the NHL and NBA playoffs are clearly a major reason this is happening, as both have had strict ‘bubble’ conditions. We won’t know for a while how this situation plays out, but it will be interesting to watch as the owners and the NFLPA will have to reach an agreement.
As the 1st round of the NHL playoffs winds down and teams gear up for round 2, it is important to recognize the great job they’ve done in Canada with their hockey bubble. Similar to the NBA bubble, the NHL bubble has been effective at keeping COVID-19 cases out and allowing the play inside to stay reminiscent of hockey. The MLB would be wise to learn from their mistakes and move towards a bubble-style approach, and the NFL should be paying attention to how effective these bubbles have been.
As it stands this morning, three teams in the west and the east have made it to round 2 in Vegas, Colorado, Dallas, Boston, Tampa Bay, and the New York Islanders.Vancouver (5) has a slight edge over St. Louis (4) as they fight for the final spot in the west, and Philadelphia (1) looks to finish the job over Montreal (8) in the east that has done well to keep the series alive and interesting.
To start lightly with baseball news, Luis Garcia of the Washington Nationals recently became the first ever MLB player born in the 2000’s to hit a home run. Obviously there will be more to come, but this is just another sign of the newest generation’s entrance into professional sports.
In COVID-Related news, more games have been postponed since two weeks ago with 33 total games being postponed as of August 18th. It will be interesting to see how the MLB decides to try and make up these games under the limited time constraints that they currently have for the remainder of the 60 game season. While this is a large number of games to start the now quarter-done 2020 season, the rate of COVID-19 spread does at least seem to be slowing down in the MLB with only 0.1% of all tests being positive from July 31st to August 7th, according to the MLB and the MLBPA.
An MLB announcer recently made news this past week, and not for a good reason. Specifically, Thom Brennaman of the Cincinnati Reds recently said that Kansas City was “One of the f*g capitals of the world” during a broadcast of a game when he thought the station was still off the air. As a result of this, Brennaman was pulled off the air and has been suspended from commentating Reds games while the team decided the more permanent response to the incident.
The NBA playoffs started! It’s a completely different feeling without the fans. The teams who worked all year long to secure home court do not get the energy the fans bring into the stadiums, so it truly is anyone’s championship to win. Also, I feel like we are seeing March Madness NBA edition because games are going on all day and they have been fun to watch. Currently, here is how the playoff series look:
Bucks vs. Magic 1-1
Raptors vs. Nets 2-0
Celtics vs. 76ers 2-0
Heat vs. Pacers 2-0
Lakers vs. Trailblazers 1-1
Clippers vs. Mavs 1-1
Nuggets vs. Jazz 1-1
Rockets vs. Thunder 2-0
Draft Lottery happened yesterday with the Timberwolves getting the rights to the first overall draft pick. Will they draft LaMelo? Anthony Edwards? Some other random dude? We shall see when it comes draft time. The Warriors and the Hornets come in at 2 and 3. Below is the list of the rights to the lottery picks.
- Celtics (via Memphis)
What we showed the lights on
We released “Enter Your Week With Eli” blogs about how injured players are not just chess pieces and how the college football season’s end creates a bigger hole than you think. We also had two “What’s the Midweek Matter” blogs in which Mishal discussed his thoughts on the kneeling vs. standing debate in the NBA and Muf gave us the story of underrated football player Luis Perez. Last Friday we released a special hour-long episode where Eli interviewed guest Branden about the protests, black lives matter movement, and how sports leagues have responded to them. Monty wrote a “Podcast Summary” which gives a shortened take on the subject as well as corrects any errors.
What’s coming up?
In the next two weeks there will be “Enter Your Week With Eli” blog posts Mondays, “What’s the Midweek Matter” blog posts on Wednesdays, and a podcast with a special guest on Friday, September 4th. This podcast will be on the yips! Make sure to stay tuned for another “State of Sports” two Fridays from now, where we’ll recap what happened since this post and tease what’s coming next!