It’s been several months since sports in the United States came to a screeching halt amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons suddenly were put on hiatus.
Recent UFC bouts, WWE matches, NASCAR races and golf tournaments offered a glimmer of hope, and now the timelines of major sports are finally still being finalized. The NBA, NHL and MLB have announced plans to return to play, but with news breaking so often, we’ve gathered the latest stories fans need to know.
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Here is what has happened over the last couple of weeks in the NBA:
- According to USA Today, NBA players will have the opportunity to exclusively explore the Disney World theme parks after hours. Only select attractions will be available, though it looks like players will be able to ride some of Disneys top coasters including Expedition Everest, Rock “N” Rollercoaster and Test Track. Read more here.
- New Laker JR Smith says he was told to stop airing complaints about the hotel situation at the NBA bubble in Orlando. He had previously gone on Instagram Live to complain about various issues, such as a small blanket. Read more here.
- Lou Williams said last month that he was contemplating sitting out the resumed NBA season in Orlando to focus on social issues, but it would appear the Los Angeles Clippers star is joining his teammates after all, as he appears to have traveled with the team to Florida. Read more here.
- Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has been cleared to travel to Orlando. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon confirmed that D’Antoni, who is 69 years old, passed necessary medical screenings required for NBA personnel deemed high-risk for COVID-19. Read more here.
- Wizards center Thomas Bryant and bench point guard Gary Payton II have tested positive for COVID-19 and did not travel with their team to Orlando. Their availability for the season’s resumption is up in the air. Read more here.
- The NBA is set to resume the 2019-20 season later this month at Walt Disney World, but Adam Silver is still worried about the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA commissioner admitted he won’t be surprised if more players or staff members test positive for the virus after traveling to Orlando, Fla., and if they test positive for it after the league’s mandatory quarantine period, issues will arise. Silver said any major amount of positive cases inside the Disney World bubble could result in a second shutdown of the season. Read more here.
- Marcus Smart, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, believes veterans bear some responsibility in pointing young players in the right direction. “I think the younger guys are going to have some skepticism but I think as veteran guys and other guys on the team, we’ll have to do our part to keep those guys, I guess, in a sense, under control and just understanding that although you might not take it as serious, you’re putting other people at risk and they take it seriously, so you have to respect them.” Read more here.
- Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has been cleared to travel with his team to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, Gentry received the call from the NBA today just minutes before the Pelicans were set to board their plane to Orlando. Gentry, who is 65 years old, is one of the head coaches who has received extra scrutiny from team doctors and the NBA due to potentially heightened health risks if he contracts the coronavirus. Read more here.
- Pelicans All-Star Brandon Ingram admits that he is not feeling great about the season actually being completed. “New cases are coming up. Different things are happening. I’m not very confident. But they’ve got us going to Orlando on [Wednesday], so we’ll see,” Ingram said. Read more here.
- Bradley Beal announced that he will not play for the Washington Wizards in Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season due to an injury to his right rotator cuff. Beal will still go to Orlando with the team, but his injury will keep him from actually playing in the games. Read more here.
- Nets team doctors have decided to have Spencer Dinwiddie sit out of the NBA’s restart, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. The decision is being made out of an “abundance of caution,” Charania adds, as Dinwiddie recently tested positive for the coronavirus. The Brooklyn guard has confirmed the news in a tweet. Read more here.
- When asked about going to Orlando, Sixers star Joel Embiid said, “I don’t think it’s going to be safe. I know I’m going to do the right thing. I only play video games. I don’t trust those other guys to do the same.”
- It seems that Embiid also called out teammates whom he believes might put the All-Star center in harm’s way. Embiid also talked about how basketball isn’t everything and that health is important. Read more here.
- Another Nets player is sitting out Orlando. Forward Taurean Prince is also out after testing positive for the coronavirus, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Read more here.
- Although Nikola Jokic has recovered from COVID-19 and was able to produce a several negative test results, he still missed his flight to Orlando, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, who added the Nuggets star can join his team after he produces a pair of negative test results. Read more here.
- According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Sacramento Kings have shut down their facility after a member of their traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. It’s not clear whether the individual who tested positive is a player, coach or team staffer. However, with the Kings scheduled to travel to Orlando this Wednesday, the team doesn’t intend to reopen its practice facility before then, Amick adds. Read more here.
- Dwight Howard will join his Los Angeles Lakers in Orlando on Thursday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported. Howard had been ambivalent about playing in Orlando as he weighed social issues and family matters, but he has decided to play. Read more here.
- The NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams explaining how to get players who aren’t able to travel on the team plane to Orlando, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. Any player who misses a COVID-19 test in the 48 hours leading up to the departure date or who has “extenuating circumstances” that the league is aware of will be required to arrange his own travel. Read more here.
- The Bucks are the latest team that has been forced to close its practice facility after positive COVID-19 test results, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s not clear who tested positive, but Woj adds the Bucks will not be re-opening the facility before the team travels to Orlando. Read more here.
- The NBA is preparing for the intangible aspects of having players stuck in a bubble for an extended period of time. As such, Brett Martel of the Associated Press reports the league plans to emphasize mental health for players, who will be kept away from their families as they head to Walt Disney World. Read more here.
- The NBA has released the scrimmage schedule for Orlando, which will take place from July 22-28. Teams will compete in three inter-squad scrimmages during final preparations for the resumption, and the Magic will kick things off against the Clippers. Read more here.
- Landry Shamet has tested positive for COVID-19, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. As a result, he is unlikely to travel to Orlando this week to join his teammates for workouts. Read more here.
- Another Heat player has tested positive for the coronavirus, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. At least one Heat staff member also had a positive test, a source tells Jackson. Read more here.
- Gordon Hayward indicated it would it would be a “pretty easy decision” for him to leave Orlando if his wife Robyn were to go into labor in September, which would occur during the postseason as currently scheduled. The Haywards’ plan is to have the baby in Indianapolis, where there’s family to help Robyn with the newborn, especially if the Celtics star elects to return to Orlando to compete with the team in the later rounds of the postseason, if Boston makes it that far. Read more here.
- The Heat have once again closed their AmericanAirlines Arena practice facility for player workouts, reports Ethan Skolnick of 5 Reasons Sports. According to Skolnick, a second Heat player has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the shutdown. Miami previously closed its facility following Derrick Jones‘ positive COVID-19 test. Read more here.
- Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has decided to opt out of the NBA’s resumption in Orlando. “With all the variables … and the unknown exact set up of the bubble, I just can’t get my mind to being fully comfortable in playing,” he said, explaining his decision. Read more here.
- Lakers assistant coach Lionel Hollins will not be traveling with the team to Orlando, per reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who notes that the 66-year-old was “red-flagged for health-related reasons. Read more here.
- Pelicans star JJ Redick said that NBA players have “no comfort level” in traveling to Orlando. Between the pandemic and protests against racial inequality and police brutality, there is a lot going across the nation and the world, and Redick says those issues are on players’ minds. Read more here.
- A new round of testing has found that nine more NBA players tested positive with less than a month to go before the season is set to resume in Orlando. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the latest round of testing results: “In tests of 344 players between June 24-29, nine more players have tested positive for the coronavirus.” The names of the players was not revealed. Read more here.
- As Bobby Marks of ESPN explains, no teams are currently permitted to make trades, including the bottom eight teams that aren’t participating in the summer resumption in Orlando, Fla. Even though the offseason has begun for those eight non-Orlando clubs (the Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Knicks, Hornets and Bulls), a transaction moratorium remains in place for them following last week’s brief transaction window. The likely outcome is that the league and the players’ union will agree to lift the moratorium once the first round of the playoffs gets underway on Aug. 17. At that point, non-playoff teams — including the six teams in Orlando that don’t make the postseason — would be allowed to make trades, waive players and sign certain players to contract extensions. Read more here.
- Players won’t be socially distant while on the court, which is why Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan believes some of the NBA bubble protocols presented to players are absurd. DeRozan is the latest individual to criticize or mock the Association’s guidelines to keep personnel as safe as possible while quarantining and competing in Florida, where uncontrolled virus outbreaks continue to pop up throughout the state. Read more here.
- The eight teams not invited to Orlando still might have an opportunity to play again this season. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reports (via Woj) that the NBA is finalizing plans for a second bubble in Chicago that would be for the “Delete Eight” teams. Those clubs would be able too hold mini-training camps and games. Read more here.
- Rehabbing Kyrie Irving will not be joining the Nets in Orlando, according to SNYtv’s Ian Begley. This is hardly a surprise, as Irving was among the players most outspoken against resuming the NBA season as the U.S. is amid widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Read more here.
- Rockets guard Austin Rivers told Turner Sports’ Taylor Rooks that he believes this year’s NBA championship should come with an asterisk, calling it “one of the toughest championships ever won.” Read more here.
- Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo echoed Rivers’ thoughts, saying, per Sports Insiders’ Scott Davis: “This will be the toughest championship you can ever win. The circumstances are really tough right now.” Read more here.
- The NBA will reportedly be paying a staggering amount to play games at Disney World. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the NBA is paying Disney $1.5 million per day, which adds up to over $150 million just to finish out the 2019-20 campaign. Teams will be spread out between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Yacht Club and the Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs. The Grand Floridian and Yacht Club are considered to be “deluxe resorts” by Disney standards, while the Gran Destino Tower is considered to be a “moderate resort.” Read more here.
- Wizards star Bradley Beal told reporters during a Zoom call that he hasn’t yet decided whether or not he will go to Orlando for the league’s resumption.”I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing,” Beal said. Read more here.
- Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard told reporters (via ESPN’s Royce Young) that he believes some of his fellow players could try to bend the league’s bubble rules. “My confidence ain’t great because you’re telling me you’re gonna have 22 teams full of players following all the rules? When we have 100 percent freedom, everybody don’t follow all the rules,” Dame said. Read more here.
- Despite contracting COVID-19, Denver coach Mike Malone told reporters Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is expected to play in Orlando, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. In order to get cleared to travel from Serbia to the U.S., Jokic must return two negative coronavirus tests within 24 hours. Denver is scheduled to head to Orlando on July 7. Read more here.
- Nets star Kevin Durant will not travel to Orlando to be with the team when the season resumes. Having already battled COVID-19, Durant’s absence isn’t a big surprise. The future Hall of Famer had previously noted that even if he were healthy, he likely wouldn’t take part in the reboot. Read more here.
- According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Denver practice facility will be shuttered for at least a few days after members of the traveling party heading to Orlando tested positive for the virus. Read more here.
- Three Pelicans players tested positive for COVID-19, Pelicans EVP David Griffin revealed. Griffin did not reveal which players tested positive. Read more here.
- Commissioner Adam Silver has reiterated that a COVID-19 outbreak within the Orlando bubble could force the league to postpone or cancel the remainder of the season altogether. Read more here.
- Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who was in the middle of a career-best season when the coronavirus pandemic caused the NBA to suspend the 2019-20 campaign on March 11, told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that he is sick with the virus and might not report to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for training camps ahead of the campaign’s resumption. Read more here.
- Nets center DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for COVID-19 and will not join the team for the league’s return in Orlando, he tweeted. Jordan said he learned of the positive test on Sunday evening, and it was confirmed on Monday. Read more here.
- Construction has started at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort ahead of the NBA’s arrival. Crews have begun adding fencing around areas of the resort to create the “bubble” players will be required to stay in. The Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies and Magic will be staying at the Grand Floridian. Read more here.
- Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19, on March 11, which forced the league’s shutdown. More than three months later, Gobert says he still hasn’t fully recovered. “The taste has returned, but the smell is still not 100 percent. … I spoke to specialists, who told me that it could take up to a year,” Gobert says. Read more here.
- The NBA and NBPA announced that 16 players tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test rate of 5.3 percent is much lower than the 10 percent the World Health Organization recommends for reopening economies amid the pandemic. Read more here.
- The NBA announced that it has finalized a deal with the NBPA to resume the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 30. A total of 22 teams will head to Orlando to resume the season. Each squad will play eight regular-season games before the playoffs start. If the No. 9 seed is within four games of the eighth seed in either conference, a best-of-three play-in-tournament between the two will take place. Read more here.
- Commissioner Adam Silver has admitted an outbreak among even one team could cause the league to postpone or cancel play. However, Silver did say one positive test on a squad wouldn’t prevent that team from competing and that a single case would be treated similarly to an injury. Read more here.
- Additionally, Silver says there will be new features for the bubble game telecasts, including unique camera angles, enhanced game audio and even virtual halftime shows. Read more here.
- We now know the first few games of the resumed season. As noted by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Jazz face the Pelicans in the resumption opener. The Lakers will play the Clippers in the nightcap. Read more here.
- Alex Len is the third Kings player to test positive for COVID-19. In a statement, Len said he underwent testing in Sacramento and immediately isolated. Read more here.
- Heat wing Derrick Jones Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming Miami’s first player known to have contracted the virus, according to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Jones has been asymptomatic and expects to join the Heat in Orlando. Read more here.
- Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein has decided to sit out of the NBA’s resumption as a preventative measure. He and his partner are expecting a baby in July, and he doesn’t want to put them at risk for the coronavirus. The Mavs will sign guard Trey Burke to take his place. Read more here.
- The NBA plans to use law enforcement to ensure player and staff safety. ESPN’s Tim Bontemps reported that “local, state and federal law enforcement, plus former special operations forces” will be employed to secure the bubble site and keep NBA personnel safe from any intruders. Read more here.
- We have a bit of insight into the NBA’s travel arrangements as well as its dress code rules, thanks to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. All 22 NBA squads will travel between the July 7 and 9. Charania also noted that the NBA’s bench dress code for team personnel and inactive players has been adjusted. Read more here.
- The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported multiple GMs are fearful of what will happen when 22 teams and hundreds of personnel are together in Orlando. In fact, many said they were terrified for all the people involved and also fear this will damage the NBA’s reputation. Notably, of the 10 GMs polled by The Athletic, seven top executives remained cautiously optimistic for the NBA’s return. But even among those who expressed optimism, there still remains a great level of uncertainty. Read more here.
- Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. Brogdon and other players who test positive will quarantine until they’re symptom-free and considered fully recovered. At that point, they’ll be permitted to travel to Orlando for group workouts and training camps. Read more here.
- Kings power forward Jabari Parker is the latest NBA player to test positive for COVID-19, which he revealed in a statement through the team. Parker indicated that he had received the news “several days ago” and has been self-isolating at his Chicago home. Read more here.
- Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has tested positive for COVID-19. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the two-time All-Star tested positive while in Serbia but is asymptomatic. Jokic may be cleared to travel to Denver next week. Read more here.
- The NBA has offered its assistance to Yale researchers who are studying a saliva-based COVID-19 testing method. The researchers will be testing some NBA players and coaches as a part of the initial testing, with the results of the study expected to be ready by the end of July. Read more here.
- The NBA will start testing players for COVID-19 as part of the league’s ramp-up schedule toward a return. While some clubs already took part in antibody testing, they are expecting to see a lot of players now test positive for the coronavirus. In fact, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, one NBA playoff team has already seen four of its players contract the coronavirus in recent weeks. Read more here.
- While the NBA season return at Walt Disney World still is up in the air due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in Florida, it appears one team will be traveling to the state a bit early. According to Yahoo’s Keith Smith, the Toronto Raptors are scheduled to fly into Florida on Monday and begin training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Naples. Read more here.
- The Washington Wizards will be without one of their best players when the NBA season resumes at Walt Disney World next month. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim Bontemps, Davis Bertans will reportedly sit out the NBA’s resumption in Orlando as a preventative measure. Read more here.
- Florida’s recent spike in coronavirus cases is spreading unease throughout NBA executives, players and staff as the return-to-play plan at Walt Disney World looms, according to Zach Lowe and Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Florida recorded over 4,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, which was a new single-day high for the state. Read more here.
- Despite the surge in coronavirus cases in Florida, commissioner Adam Silver is still confident in the league’s plan to hold the season’s resumption in Orlando, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe. Silver recently held a conference call with high-ranking league execs in which he expressed confidence in the bubble plan. Read more here.
- When the season resumes, games will be played in empty arenas. Concerned about how crowdless games may affect players, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban explained how the league may try to include fans in the experience. “We have been having a lot of fun with apps that allow fans to push noise they make at home into the arena,” Cuban said. Sounds like a fun way to help players and get fans involved. Read more here.
- The date for the 2020 NBA Draft has been set. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the draft will be on October 16, with early-entry deadline on August 17. The league announced earlier this month that the draft lottery will take place on Aug. 25. The draft was originally scheduled to take place on June 25. Read more here.
- It appears technology will be aiding the NBA during its resumption. The league plans to give players the option to wear the Oura “smart ring.” The device features sensors that keep track of the wearer’s health stats, including heart and respiration rates and body temperature. Then, the data the Oura collected is put into an algorithm to predict the onset of COVID-19. Read more here.
- Dwight Howard released a public statement explaining his position on the NBA resuming its season in Orlando, saying that he and others who have expressed concerns “are not attempting to halt the resumption of the basketball season in Orlando.” Instead, Howard and others who have spoken up are hoping to use this opportunity to place the focus on the nationwide protests caused by the death of George Floyd. Read more here.
- The mayor of Orange County, Florida, has announced that masks will be mandatory indefinitely after a spike in coronavirus cases throughout the state. NBA teams will journey to Orlando on or around July 7. Read more here.
- Players must inform the NBA by June 24 if they don’t plan on taking part in the remainder of the season, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Read more here.
- Nuggets head coach Mike Malone revealed that he tested positive and recovered from COVID-19. Malone noted that he fell ill in March. He was unable to obtain a test, given that they were not as widespread as they are right now, but he took an antibody test last month, which revealed the head coach did in fact have coronavirus. Read more here.
- Charania reported the hotels where each team will stay — based on seeding. For example, the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz and Heat will stay at Gran Destino Tower, which is is located in Disney’s Coronado Resort. Check out where the rest of the teams will be staying here.
- Now that the NBA settled on safety protocols and where the teams will stay, surely one of the biggest concerns will be to get everyone to adhere to the rules. Charania reported the NBA will have a hotline that will allow players to anonymously report anyone who is violating protocols. Read more here.
- According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there is no indication from players, agents or league officials that concerns over safety or social issues are putting the NBA’s return in jeopardy. While some players around the league are not expected to participate, either due to concerns for their health or to support those protesting, there is no indication it will be enough to compromise the return plan. Read more here.
- ESPN’s Tim Bontemps provided some insight for the NBA’s testing protocols before going to Orlando. All players and “essential team personnel” will be tested every other day starting June 23, and they will also undergo an antibody test. It’s not yet known which coronavirus test the league will be using, but it’s thought to be the less invasive test than the one that’s been most common. Read more here.
- Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Disney’s safety protocols for staffers. Guidelines include: All Disney personnel onsite will be required to wear masks and gloves while undergoing daily temperature screenings, and staff will adhere to social distancing guidelines and not allowed within 6 feet of an NBA participant. Read more here.
- Regarding the NBA’s safety guidelines, Dr. Fauci was complimentary and supportive of the league’s protocols. The country’s top infectious disease expert even went as far as to say other leagues could look to the NBA and emulate certain aspects. Read more here.
- We already know fans won’t be able to attend games once the season resumes in July. However, the NBPA expects crowdless games for the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign as well. That would mean the NBA would lose billions of dollars in ticket revenue over an 82-game season and the playoffs and another potential hit to the salary cap. Read more here.
- NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has an ominous prediction: “A player is going to test positive. It’s not any more of this ‘if,’ it’s ‘when’ and what can I do to mitigate against the ‘when.'” Being realistic is better than blinding optimism. If the NBA operates on “when” rather than “if,” the league can be better prepared to deal with it. Read more here.
- According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, detailed plans for the season are now etched in stone. Working with a small window, the NBA has set the following dates for the resumption of the season, with seeding games running July 30-Aug. 14, the play-in tournament taking place Aug. 15-Aug. 16 and the playoffs beginning Aug. 17. Read more here.
- However, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that there is a significant number of NBA players who are upset a vote was not held to allow players to decide whether they wanted to finish the season. Some players were already uneasy about resuming play amid the coronavirus outbreak, and now there is a feeling among a portion of the NBA community that it is “bad optics” to play with protests raging across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
- Furthermore, some frustration seems to be starting to set in among players about these rules and regulations. New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick seemed particularly confused by a report that Disney support staff would not be subject to the restrictions of the bubble, even though players and league staff will be. That confusion and frustration seemed to be echoed by some of his fellow players.
- Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks and Howard Beck also reported that some players feel they weren’t properly represented regarding a vote over the 22-team model and temporarily relocating to Florida, away from their families, during a coronavirus outbreak and racial tensions throughout the world. Between 150 and 200 NBA players held a conference call on Friday to discuss the next and best course of action, led by Kyrie Irving, who is of the position that players should consider not playing in light of the uproar over racial injustice and the unknowns of COVID-19, sources said. Read more here.
- Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Donovan Mitchell were among the stars who participated in the conference call. Kyrie reportedly said he’s “willing to give up everything” he has for social reform and was the leading voice against resuming the season in Orlando. Read more here.
- Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the league will allow teams to carry 17 players in Orlando, which includes two-way players. Additionally, players who are currently unsigned and available may sign with teams. Read more here.
- ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks reported 14 of 22 teams will be eliminated within 53 days after players arrive in Orlando. It’s expected that six teams will be bounced from the competition within 40 days at the most. Additionally, just four teams will be left after 67 days. Read more here.
- Wojnarowski reported there is a “growing number of players” who are considering sitting out the NBA’s resumption, particularly among players on teams that don’t have much of a chance to win the title. They simply do not want to live in a bubble for that long and want to see “quarantine elements” loosened. Woj also notes the Black Lives Matter movement might be “playing a role in the conversation.” Count Carmelo Anthony among the players who are hesitant to play in Orlando. Read more here.
- Longtime TNT announcer Kevin Harlan shared some details about how the network will handle the challenge of televising games that will be held in a bubble format in which broadcasters initially will not be allowed to be on site for contests: “We will be in the studios in Atlanta, and they will set up as close to possible a broadcast table like we would have courtside,” Harlan said this week on SiriusXM NBA Radio, according to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. “We will have, I’m assuming, crowd noise pumped into our headsets.” Read more here.
- In a follow-up, Yahoo’s Keith Smith reports that broadcasters probably won’t be able to call games from Walt Disney World. If they’re allowed to, it’ll be very few, he adds. Read more here.
- As the season’s resumption approaches, Woj reported there is a “faction” of NBA players who aren’t fully onboard with continuing play. They question whether it’s a “good idea or not out of concern for their health and safety. As such, the league will not be penalizing players who choose not to participate. However, Woj says “players would lose a portion of salary for those games missed.” Read more here.
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Here is the latest MLB news from the past couple of weeks:
- The Kansas City Royals announced that catcher Cam Gallagher has tested positive for COVID-19. In his own statement, Gallagher said the diagnosis surprised him. Read more here.
- The Astros discovered that a member of their staff might have come in direct contact with a person who has the coronavirus. As a result, the club canceled its scheduled workout on Saturday in an abundance of caution. Read more here.
- Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that Aroldis Chapman tested positive for COVID-19. Worse yet for the club and Chapman, he is experiencing mild symptoms and will be out indefinitely. Read more here.
- Giants star and former NL MVP Buster Posey met with the media in Northern California Friday morning and announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. He becomes the 10th player to opt out. According to reports, Posey and his wife recently adopted twin girls who were born prematurely. The safety of his children is Posey’s No. 1 concern as the pandemic continues to surge across the U.S. Read more here.
- According to TSN’s Seth Mitchell, any Blue Jays player who leaves the Toronto campus without clearance could be fined up to $750,000 and face jail time. The Blue Jays received an exemption to train in Canada on “national interest grounds.” However, players who have traveled to Toronto from outside Canada must quarantine inside the Rogers Centre and adjoining Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel for 14 days. Read more here.
- Travis Shaw is not thrilled with the Blue Jays’ plan to keep players so sheltered. He tweeted that staying in a bubble for the whole summer is “not an option.” Read more here.
- MLB and the MLB Players Association announced that 58 players and eight staff members tested positive for the coronavirus in the final round of the intake screening process. Read more here.
- Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo returned to club training sessions on Friday after providing a second negative coronavirus test result. Read more here.
- White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech has opted out of the season. The team announced his decision, but did not provide reasoning behind it. Read more here.
- Tigers lefty Daniel Norris is away from summer camp pursuant to the coronavirus protocols, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports on Twitter. It is not clear whether he has personally tested positive for an infection. Read more here.
- The Mets announced Wednesday that they will put cardboard cutouts all around the stadium at Citi Field. Better yet, fans who renew their 2021 season tickets can get a personalized cutout of themselves and it will be placed around the stadium during games. Read more here.
- Pirates hurler Hector Noesi has opted out of participation in the 2020 season, top relief pitcher Keone Kela still has not appeared at camp, manager Derek Shelton told reporters. The organization has not provided further information on Kela’s absence. Read more here.
- The Major League Baseball Umpires Association seemingly responded to controversial comments made by veteran umpire Joe West earlier this week. “Recent public comments about the current coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association … The MLBUA fully supports the health and safety protocols agreed to by MLB and the MLBPA, and we have agreed to make dramatic changes to our usual working conditions in an effort to navigate this unprecedented season.” Read more here.
- The Chicago White Sox have announced an initiative through which fans can have cardboard cutouts of their likenesses in the stands for the team’s opening homestand later this month. Dubbed FANtastic Faces, fans can submit images and, should they satisfy the conditions laid out by the team, will have their likenesses displayed at Guaranteed Rate Field for the series against the Minnesota Twins scheduled for July 24-27. Read more here.
- One day after Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona confirmed that Franmil Reyes was being kept away from team activities after the outfielder attended a party without wearing a mask or practicing social-distancing guidelines over the July 4 weekend, the club welcomed him back to Progressive Field. Read more here.
- Star Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is not presently participating in summer camp, per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. He is isolating after having contact with a teammate that tested positive for COVID-19. There’s no indication to this point that Soto has contracted the disease. Read more here.
- Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and infield prospect Bobby Dalbec each tested positive for COVID-19 (and consented to the public disclosure of that information), Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke told reporters. Fortunately, there is no indication that either player is dealing with significant health complications at this time. Read more here.
- Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters that outfielder Franmil Reyes is currently not allowed at the club’s summer training camp held at Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland after Reyes was spotted attending a party without wearing a mask or other face-covering over the July 4 weekend. Francona added that Reyes, who turned 25 years old on Tuesday, must produce negative test results “when it’s appropriate.” Read more here.
- The Giants announced that summer camp workouts at Oracle Park have been suspended, pending results from this weekend’s wave of COVID-19 testing. It seems the club has still not received results from Major League Baseball’s lab in Salt Lake City. Read more here.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Jesus Luzardo tested positive and will self-isolate for 14 days, per the MLB safety protocol. Luzardo won’t be able to be with the team until right before Opening Day, assuming he tests negative and is medically cleared. Read more here.
- Diamondbacks 1B/OF Seth Beer is the latest Arizona player to test positive for COVID-19, manager Torey Lovullo told Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. Read more here.
- Royals right-hander Brad Keller and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn have tested positive for the coronavirus, per the team. Keller said in a statement that is dealing with minor symptoms at the moment, while O’Hearn is asymptomatic. Read more here.
- Although the Cubs experienced delays in COVID-19 testing, the results came back negative, per GM Jed Hoyer, via Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times. Read more here.
- MLB announced that the Washington Nationals will begin their defense of their World Series title versus the New York Yankees on July 23. That game is followed by an interstate showdown between rivals the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Both games will air on ESPN. Read more here.
- While most teams are already hosting full workouts and beginning to schedule intrasquad games at “summer camp,” multiple clubs are still experiencing delays in their COVID-19 test results that are preventing them from taking the field just yet, including the A’s, Angels and Nationals. Read more here.
- Athletics GM David Frost was livid about the testing delays and ripped the process. Read more here.
- The Nationals had to cancel practice on Monday because the test results still weren’t available. The delay led general manager Mike Rizzo to question MLB’s ability to run safely as a result. Read more here.
- The Astros also canceled practice Monday due to delayed test results, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports. Read more here.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that “some players are reporting privately their teams are not adhering closely to elements of the health and safety protocol.” Olney did provide some necessary context to this situation, noting this is an unprecedented situation. Read more here.
- Braves manager Brian Snitker told reporters on Monday that OF Nick Markakis has informed the team he will not play this year. Markakis is the second Braves player to opt out of the season. The decision is significant, as he is 36 and giving up a season very late in his career. Read more here.
- Brewers infielder Luis Urias and left-hander Angel Perdomo both tested positive for COVID-19 prior to intake, manager Craig Counsell told reporters. Both consented to their diagnoses becoming public. Urias and Perdomo are asymptomatic at this point and are going through the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Read more here.
- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hasn’t yet opted out of playing, but he clearly isn’t pleased with the league’s current testing protocols. “I wanted to play this year because I felt it would be safe and I would feel comfortable. But honestly, I don’t really feel that way,” Bryant said. Read more here.
- Rangers slugger Joey Gallo tested positive for COVID-19, general manager Jon Daniels told reporters. Gallo initially tested positive on June 29, per Daniels, and while he had one negative test in the days thereafter, a second and more recent test again came back positive. He is said to be asymptomatic. Read more here.
- Major League Baseball released a statement regarding the delays in COVID-19 testing that have hamstrung the efforts of several teams to prepare for the season. The league acknowledged the issue but says it expects to iron things out moving forward. The league defended its overall handling of the early rounds of testing. Read more here.
- MLBPA sent a memo to player agents saying that it and the league are “actively pursuing an additional medical lab site to increase the speed and efficiency of test processing and reporting,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. Read more here.
- Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun tested positive for COVID-19, manager Torey Lovullo announced. Fortunately, Calhoun’s asymptomatic and doing well, per Lovullo. Whether Calhoun will be ready for the start of the regular season is unclear, though, as he’ll have to quarantine for two weeks and test negative for the virus twice before returning to action. Read more here.
- Mets pitcher Seth Lugo isn’t among the players who will be opting out of the season. He told reporters that he isn’t afraid of COVID-19, saying: “You don’t live in fear.” Read more here.
- Longtime Cleveland bench coach Brad Mills will be opting out of the season. Terry Francona shared the news with reporters on and said he supports the decision. Read more here.
- Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters that outfielder Socrates Brito and right-hander Blake Cederlind have both tested positive for the coronavirus, via Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shelton didn’t provide further details on their condition. Read more here.
- Count Phillies SP Zack Wheeler among the players considering sitting out the season, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports. Wheeler and his wife expecting a baby in late July, right around the start of the regular season, so the ace is still weighing his options. Read more here.
- Braves skipper Brian Snitker announced four players have tested positive for COVID-19: Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Touki Toussaint and Pete Kozma. According to Freeman’s wife Chelsea, Freddie is symptomatic, including headaches, chills and a high fever since Thursday. Read more here.
- The Royals announced that catcher Salvador Perez has tested positive for COVID-19. Perez says he is not experiencing any symptoms of the virus at this time and none of his family members have tested positive. Read more here.
- The Red Sox have announced that left-handed pitchers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have both tested positive for COVID-19. Both players will be quarantined and are unable to return to the team until they’ve tested negative twice within a 24-hour period. Read more here.
- David Price announced that he will not play during the 2020 season via a post on his Instagram page. In the statement Price posted to social media, he says that he’s “decided it is in the best interest of my heath and my family’s health for me to not play this season.” Read more here.
- Buster Posey won’t commit to playing this season. The Giants catcher says he has “reservations” and will see how things “progress over the next couple weeks” before making a decision. Read more here.
- Aaron Nola, Adam Haseley and Christian Bethancourt have been placed on the Phillies’ coronavirus injured list, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Placement on the COVID-19 IL doesn’t necessarily mean a player has the virus, as it could be that any or all of the trio only have symptoms, or came into contact with someone who was positive for coronavirus. Read more here.
- Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters that DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa have both tested positive for the coronavirus, via ESPN’s Marly Rivera. Cessa has mild symptoms, while LeMahieu is asymptomatic. Read more here.
- The Cardinals announced Genesis Cabrera and Ricardo Sanchez have both tested positive for COVID-19. Per MLB.com’s Anne Rogers, Cabrera and Sanchez are each currently in quarantine, and both are asymptomatic. Read more here.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters (including the Miami Herald’s Jordan McPherson) that four players on the 60-man player pool have tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.
- Additionally, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez announced through his agent that he will be opting out of the season due to concerns over the COVID-19 crisis, a common theme for players who are deciding to skip out. Read more here.
Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr. has decided to step away from his role for the 2020 season, manager Brian Snitker told reporters, via Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Young is reportedly a higher-risk candidate for COVID-19, but as Burns notes, the team didn’t include specifics of his health situation. Read more here.
- Major League Baseball is moving forward with its plan for the 2020 season, but that will not include the All-Star Game, which was scheduled for July 14 at Dodger Stadium before MLB suspended the start of its season in March. Now with Opening Day scheduled for July 23, MLB announced on Friday that this year’s Midsummer Classic is canceled. Read more here.
- Indians outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. has tested positive for COVID-19, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters. DeShields is experiencing some symptoms, though they’re said to be mild in nature at this point. For the time being, he remains at home and will need a pair of negative tests before he can travel and join the club in Cleveland. Read more here.
- With the list of players opting out of the season growing, Mike Trout is now expressing uncertainty about playing amid the pandemic. Trout’s wife, Jessica, is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s first child in August. While everyone is at risk for contracting the coronavirus, data from the CDC shows that pregnant women and their babies are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Given the risk his family faces, Trout admitted that he is nervous heading into summer camp about playing this year. Read more here.
- Veteran catcher Welington Castillo has opted out of the 2020 season, Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters. With Castillo forgoing the season, he won’t be paid and won’t accrue service time. Read more here.
- Rangers lefty Brett Martin has tested positive for COVID-19, the team told reporters Friday, via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Martin is diabetic, but to this point, the Rangers have indicated mild symptoms for the southpaw. Read more here.
- The Twins announced utilityman Willians Astudillo has tested positive for COVID-19, via Dan Hayes of The Athletic. Fortunately Astudillo is said to be symptom-free at the moment. Read more here.
- The Padres announced Friday that outfielder Tommy Pham has tested positive for the coronavirus, via AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. Fortunately, Pham is said to be asymptomatic at the moment. Read more here.
- Cleveland star Carlos Carrasco told reporters that he will be playing in the upcoming campaign, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com. It is somewhat surprising, considering he just recovered from leukemia and would fall into the “high risk” category. Read more here.
- Giants infielder Luis Madero has tested positive for COVID-19, via Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. The 23-year-old is the only positive Giants case. Read more here.
- MLB will be implementing many safety protocols this season. Among those rules: no spitting allowed. Dodgers star Justin Turner doesn’t think this rule is realistic, saying: “Spitting for a baseball player is like blinking.” It remains to be seen if other players feel the same way. Read more here.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told YES (via The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler) that he expects to host fans this season at 20-30 percent capacity if the local government OKs it. “I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree, and that’s going to be a great day as well,” Steinbrenner said. Read more here.
- Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year, as he told 670 The Score’s Mully and Haugh. While Hottovy is no longer positive for the virus, he says he is still not fully back to himself. Despite the diagnosis, Hottovy still wants MLB to move forward with the season. Read more here.
- Derek Jeter is in the rare position of being an MLB team owner and former player. As such, he brings a unique perspective to the table regarding player-owner negotiations, and he spoke out about the complicated talks. “There is no trust (between owners and players) is the best way to put it.” Read more here.
- Rob Manfred said on “The Dan Patrick Show” that playing more than 60 games in 2020 was never an option for MLB. “Sixty games is the outside of the envelope given the realities of the virus,” Manfred said. The MLBPA had been advocating for a 70-game season. Read more here.
- This year’s Field of Dreams game is still scheduled for Aug. 13 at the Dyersville, Iowa, site made famous by the iconic film despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, Bruce Levine of Chicago sports radio station WSCR-AM reported that the Cardinals are replacing the Yankees to face the White Sox. Read more here.
- Twins president Dave St. Peter said the club is “developing a plan for no fans but also developing a plan for how and when we reintroduce fans.” He noted that it will ultimately be left up to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and health experts in the state as to whether fans can attend games. Read more here.
- If a player were to contract the virus, that news will remain in-house. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said teams will not be able to disclose who lands on the COVID-19 injured list, citing players’ right to medical privacy. Read more here.
- However, keeping a player’s COVID-19 status away a secret might not always be the league’s policy. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported owners and the MLBPA are discussing whether or not a positive test result could be considered a employment-related injury. It’s also worth noting a player doesn’t have to experience symptoms or test positive to enter the COVID-19 list. Known exposure to an infected person or a physician noticing symptoms could lead to a team placing a player on its COVID-19 list. Read more here.
- MiLB has announced that the 2020 minor league season has been officially canceled. Although it’s not surprising, it is still unfortunate. As noted by the Associated Press, 42 farm teams were facing the ax earlier this year before the pandemic hit the U.S. This news leaves the minor league system even more in limbo. Read more here.
- Also according to Nightengale, the Twins have informed bullpen coach Bob McClure, 68, and major league coach Bill Evers, 66, that they won’t work games this year due to health and safety concerns because of the coronavirus. The organization says they’ll still be paid. Read more here.
- Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake has become the first MLB player to publicly opt out of participating in the season. Leake’s agent Danny Horwits issued a statement saying Leake and his family took many personal factors into consideration when making the decision, and the pitcher is looking forward to returning in 2021. He will lose roughly $5 million by sitting out the season. Read more here.
- Not long after Leake announced he will not play this season due to personal reasons, The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli first reported Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross would also be sitting out. The Nationals have since confirmed the news, expressing support for both players in a statement. Read more here.
- Giants outfielder Hunter Bishop has become the first member of the team to test positive for COVID-19, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Bishop is exhibiting “mild symptoms” and “was not in contact with any of our players and staff subsequent to when he believes he was infected,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi announced. Read more here.
- Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond will opt out of playing in the 2020 MLB season. Desmond explained that “the COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking.” He says he’s compelled to stay home “with a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world.” Read more here.
- The Rangers have COVID-19 cases among their staffers. An anonymous employee told ESPN’s Jeff Passan there’s widespread fear across the organization’s staff and that they are “terrified” for their safety. Texas was forced to halt the reopening process after a three-day period in which over 17,000 new coronavirus cases were reported. Read more here.
- We now know how MLB plans to kick off its season: On July 23, the Yankees will head to D.C. to take on the Nationals, per Joel Sherman and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. This will pit new Yankees starter Gerrit Cole against Max Scherzer. Read more here.
- The Baseball Hall of Fame opened its doors to visitors for the first time since March 15, according to the Associated Press. Certain areas known to attract large gatherings are temporarily closed. Read more here.
- Astros owner Jim Crane is concerned about teams losing billions of dollars this season and said that the “only thing we have to do that can counter” revenue losses is have fans at games. Losing tens of millions of dollars is scary but not as scary as losing lives, which some fear is the risk of letting fans attend games. Read more here.
- Some players received an advance this spring that equals or was worth more than a prorated rate for 2020, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. While those players won’t owe clubs refunds due to a fund shared by owners and the MLBPA, athletes such as Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh essentially will play for free. Read more here.
- The Twins are the latest MLB team to have players test positive for COVID-19. Team president Derek Falvey told reporters a “few” players in the organization have tested positive. Falvey declined to say whether the players diagnosed were major or minor league players, nor how many tested positive. Read more here.
- Regarding crowds at games, the Cubs are expecting fans at Wrigley Field this season, as team president Crane Kenney told ESPN 1000. Kenney envisions about 8,000 fans at games this season. Fans would be able to watch from outfield rooftops and restaurants — areas that can allow for social distancing. Read more here.
- Many have wondered whether tams will be able to play exhibition games as part of Training Camp 2.0. MLB has told teams they’ll allow them to schedule up to three exhibition contests apiece before the regular season starts July 23-24, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Read more here.
- The Giants have told season-ticket holders that fans will not be allowed to attend games this year. However, the team has a “Fan Cutout” program, which allow fans to submit photos of themselves that will then be placed in the stands during games. Read more here.
- Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and TSN’s Scott Mitchell reported that multiple Blue Jays players and staff returned positive tests. Read more here.
- According to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, MLB has been talking with officials in Nashville about having two teams of unsigned players in the city on standby in case MLB teams need them. The players would earn $400 per week, with teams having to pay Nashville a fee to sign one of them. Read more here.
- Three Rockies players, including Charlie Blackmon, have tested positive for the virus, per Kyle Newman of the Denver Post. Left-handed pitcher Phillip Diehl and minor leaguer Ryan Castellani were the other two players to test positive. All three tested positive after recent workouts at Coors Field. All other players who were working out at Coors Field have tested negative. Read more here.
- Luis Ferre-Sadurni of The New York Times tweeted that players entering New York from high-infection areas won’t be asked to quarantine but will instead follow safety protocols implemented by MLB and the New York State Health Department. Read more here.
- Tigers GM Al Avila revealed that two people in the organization — one player and one staff member — have tested positive for the virus. Neither individual has recovered yet, but the player was not working out at the team’s spring facility in Lakeland, Florida, when he contracted it. Read more here.
- MLB will have teams decide whether games will happen in front of a crowd “based on local, state ordinances and procedures,” reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.” Read more here.
- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto announced that multiple players have tested positive for COVID-19. “Right now they’re asymptomatic. They feel great,” Dipoto said, via Greg Johns of MLB.com. Read more here.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Here is what the NHL has been doing over the past couple of weeks to prepare for he league’s resumption:
- The NHL and NHLPA have announced that the two sides have officially approved the return-to-play plan as well as a four-year extension to the CBA. Read more here.
- Three U.S. National Team Development Program players have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Katie Strang and Craig Custance of The Athletic. The results throw the viability of holding the World Junior Summer Showcase later this month into question. Read more here.
- The NHL will begin announcing award finalists on Tuesday, July 14, per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi. The league will begin with the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the league’s “most outstanding player in the regular season.” Read more here.
- The NHLPA Executive Board voted on and approved the CBA extension. Included in that vote was approval for all return to play protocols as well. This now moves to the full NHLPA membership to vote on. A simple majority is required to pass the deal, and it’s fully expected to be approved. Read more here.
- The Bruins sent an email to season ticket holders asking fans to submit virtual cheers, chants, celebrations and booing to be featured in playoff games, according to SB Nation’s Stanley Cup of Chowder. Read more here.
- An outbreak at Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital has killed three patients, infected 20 other patients and affected at least 15 staff members. Despite the outbreak, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded to the news by saying that these events won’t affect the league’s schedule as of right now, per Hockey News Editor in Chief Jason Kay. Read more here.
- The NHL has set key dates for its season. The NHL hopes to complete the 24-team model to finish the 2019-20 season by crowning a Stanley Cup champion no later than Oct. 2, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. The Final gets underway Sept. 20, which means only one day off will separate fixtures. Read more here.
- The NHL plans to play three games per day at each bubble site, for a total of six contests a day, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie. These games will be held at the same times (12 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m.) but offset by the two-hour time difference local time Read more here.
- The NHL announced that the league and NHL Players’ Association reached a tentative agreement to return to play on Aug. 1 to crown a champion for the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under this deal, training camps will begin on July 13. Players and team personnel will travel to the bubble sites in Edmonton and Toronto on July 26. Pucks will be dropped for qualifying round games on Aug. 1. Read more here.
- The NHL updated its weekly COVID-19 reporting, sharing that a total of 35 players have now tested positive for the virus. It remains to be seen if any NHL players will opt out as the league attempts its return to play. Read more here.
- Michael Russo of The Athletic, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports and Andrew Gross of Newsday all report that once the CBA extension has been ratified, players will be allowed to sign their entry-level contracts this summer to burn the first year but will not be eligible to play. Read more here.
- The NHL and NHLPA are already discussing the 2020-21 season. The NHL is focused on having a full, 82-game campaign next season despite a delayed start (in December or January), per TSN’s Pierre LeBrun. Read more here.
- Despite an uptick in COVID-19 cases that has caused teams to temporarily shut down their facilities, deputy commissioner Billy Daly is still confident in the league’s resumption plans. “We think the enhanced structure and precautions that will be in place once we reach the training camp phase will actually create safer conditions for players and staff,” Daly said. “And we think the Hub City Protocol will make it even safer still.” Read more here.
- The NHL released a “tentative” schedule for its return plan. Training camp are set to begin July 13, teams arrive at hub cities around July 26, the qualifying round begins Aug. 1, draft lottery part two around Aug. 10, Stanley Cup Final in early October, the drat in mid-October and free agency starts Nov. 1. While the dates are tentatively set, the NHL still needs to figure out its collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. Read more here.
- The St. Louis Blues are shutting down their practice facility after multiple players tested positive for COVID-19, according to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, who notes that approximately two-thirds of the team is in town as part of the second phase of the league’s Return to Play protocols. Read more here.
- We now at least have an idea of when the free agency period will begin. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the agreement to extend expiring contracts runs through Oct. 31st, which means that the league is targeting Nov. 1 as the beginning of the 2020-21 calendar, which would also serve as the opening day of free agency. Read more here.
- While the NHL season still is on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, some players still are waiting to be paid, but it seems they won’t have to wait much longer. According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, NHL players who are due signing bonuses on July 1 will be paid as scheduled. There’s more than $300 million due to players across the league. Read more here.
- On the heels of Law Vegas falling out of favor with the league to be one of the hub cities, the NHL has now made its final decisions on where games will be played. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the two NHL hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto. This, of course, means that Western Conference teams will play in Edmonton and Eastern Conference teams will be competing in Toronto. Read more here.
- NHL players might be more concerned about returning to play than they’ve let on, reports Sportsnet’s Eric Engels. Players are concerned for their safety and frustrated with the lack of transparency and attention being paid to those details in their discussions with NHLPA representatives. Read more here.
- Although Las Vegas has long been the front-runner to be one of the NHL’s hub cities, that appears to no longer be the case. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that coronavirus spikes in the Vegas area have the NHL reconsidering the city. Instead, the league could leave the United States out of the mix and pick Edmonton and Toronto. Read more here.
- The Red Wings and NHL announced the cancellation of the 2020 NHL Prospect Tournament. The eight-team tournament typically takes place in September in Traverse City, Michigan, to showcase some of the game’s top young talent. Last year’s participants were the Stars, Blackhawks, Wild, Red Wings, Rangers, Blues, Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs. Read more here.
The NHL has released a statement that 15 players tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting to training camp. More than 1,450 total tests were administered to the 250-plus players in camp. These tests have all been administered following the start of Phase 2 of the return to play initiative, which began on June 8. What’s more, 11 additional players have tested positive for coronavirus outside of NHL training camps. All players who tested positive have been quarantined. Read more here.
- The NHL salary cap rising within the next three seasons doesn’t sound so promising amid the coronavirus pandemic. The league and players’ association are working to get a deal done that would extend the current CBA. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that “as part of the agreement, the salary cap will be kept close to the current $81.5 million for the next three seasons. There is potential for it to go up $1 million in 2022-23.” Read more here.
- NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed Thursday that the league has no plans to put players in quarantine “bubbles” when training camps open July 10, according to The Canadian Press. Read more here.
- A veteran player in the Western Conference told The Athletic, according to ESPN, that “guys are not happy. This is why we better have a full player vote and not just an executive board vote. But I’m not convinced (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is going to allow that because he knows there’s so many of us on the fence. That’s why I think the league was trying to be hush-hush on these positive tests. In my opinion, no way we play.” Read more here.
- While the NHL has entered Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan, the league also announced the date for Phase 1 of the draft lottery. Phase 1 of the 2020 draft lottery will take place on Friday and be broadcast live on NBCSN and NHL Network at 8 p.m. ET, the league announced in a press release on Monday. Read more here.
- Despite the surge of positive COVID-19 tests around the league, the NHL is not planning to change the start date for Phase 3. Michael Russo and James Mirtle of The Athletic report the league is still planning to open training camps on July 10. It seems the NHL will not be swayed by 11 positive tests. Read more here.
- We know now the date for the start of the qualifying rounds. According to the Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the playoffs will begin with the qualifying rounds on July 30, which is Phase 4 for the league’s return-to-play plan. Phase 3 is set to start July 10 and will end with teams traveling to hub cities around July 24. Read more here.
- According to a report published by the Canadian Press, Marco Mendicino, the minister of immigration, issued a statement indicating that it was in the country’s best interest to have a hub city when play resumes. Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton have all approved the NHL’s proposed “Return to Play” protocols. Mendicino highlighted that NHL’s plan to keep players separate from the public as the main reason to lift the 14-day mandatory quarantine for individuals coming into Canada. Read more here.
- TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facility due to multiple positive coronavirus tests. McKenzie added he heard three players and two staff members from the Lightning have tested positive and that the team is awaiting additional results. It’s expected that the team facility will reopen if everyone else produces negative tests. Read more here.
- Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. Simmons adds that Matthews is is quarantining and self-isolating at his Arizona residence. Read more here.
- The NHL has released a statement saying 11 players have tested positive for the coronavirus since Phase 2 began on June 8. Over 200 NHL players have been tested for the virus in that span. The league also notes that it will release weekly updates on how many players will be tested and the number of positive results. Read more here.
- BAUER Hockey has designed a new face shield to keep players safe in their return to action. The company writes that its mask has an “additional splash protection around the mouth while maintaining a high level of vision and breathability.” It’s possible the NHL might require players to wear these masks, which will be available in August. Read more here.
- Commissioner Gary Bettman went on ESPN and shared that if a player tests positive for COVID-19, that player will be isolated but the league won’t come to a halt. Read more here.
- The Bruins announced that a player, who will remain unnamed, tested positive for the coronavirus and underwent two subsequent tests, which both came back negative. The player remains asymptomatic. Read more here.
- The league announced that training camps will begin on Friday, July 10, after reaching an agreement with the NHLPA. Recently teams were allowed to open their practice facilities, although not all of them have yet taken advantage of that. Some are in the process of getting their rinks compliant with new safety protocols, while others have encouraged their players to remain outside of the club city as long as they’re able to skate and work out. Read more here.
- Many players returned to the ice in limited capacity as the league moved in to Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan. A maximum of six players can skate at once with no coaches or team personnel allowed. Players also must wear face coverings when they aren’t exercising or on the ice. Participation in these practices is voluntary, and many players have decided to continue isolating in their self-quarantine locations instead of returning to the team’s city. Read more here.
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How the NFL has been preparing lately:
- The details of the NFLPA’s economic counterproposal have been prepared, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The points include no escrow of 2020 salaries, flat salary cap of $198.2M for 2021 and several others. Read more here.
- The NFL Referees Association wants to ensure the safety its officials. As a result, referees are expected to wear gloves and face coverings this season to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus, per Pelissero. Read more here
- Aaron Rodgers isn’t sure if there will be an NFL season, as he said in an interview during a celebrity golf tournament. Although, Rodgers said, “We’re hopeful.” Read more here.
- Buccaneers’ Donovan Smith expressed his concern with the NFL season being played in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, stating that the upcoming birth of his first child has him questioning if he should play football at all. “Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking,” he said. Read more here.
- We’ve already seen players in leadership positions push back against the NFL’s safety protocols. An outspoken player is now pushing back against a report that the players are nearing an agreement with the NFL to start training camp on time. Niners Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman says the players have not agreed to anything regarding training camp and preseason games. Read more here.
- The Jaguars have announced their plans for home games for the upcoming season, which includes filling TIAA Bank Field to 25 percent capacity and requiring fans to wear masks. Read more here.
- Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports was told there are a group of NFL players with asthma who are giving thought to not playing this season due to concerns over the coronavirus. One of those players is considered an “elite-level guy.” Read more here.
- Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill has been hospitalized with COVID-19. “His symptoms have subsided, and Bidwill is expected to be released sometime this weekend,” the team noted in its announcement. Read more here.
- The worst-case scenario for the NFL or anyone else for that matter would be someone dying from COVID-19. What would the NFL do if that were to happen? NFL insider Josina Anderson tweeted that there’s no exact answer for that. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will react as he deems fit per current protocols. Read more here.
- The NFL has yet to come to an agreement with the NFLPA on player opt-outs. Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s MMQB, NFLPA exec Don Davis said no agreements currently exist regarding players who would opt-out of returning to clubs, if the coronavirus will be deemed a “football injury,” or when players must report for camps. Read more here.
- Ravens running back Mark Ingram expressed a sentiment most players likely share, as he said that he is excited about the season but only if the safety of players, coaches and personnel is guaranteed. “I know there’s standards and protocols and guidelines and all that to make sure everybody’s healthy and safe. And we’re doing everything to make sure nobody’s at risk. I’m hopeful that we’ll be playing,” he said. Read more here.
- The NFL and NFLPA are still trying to agree on the length of the preseason, with the league wanting two games while the players’ union would like no preseason games due to the virtual offseason. Pittsburgh Steelers edge-rusher T.J. Watt voiced his support for skipping the preseason, saying that players will need time to get back into game shape. Read more here.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers announced that fans will be required to wear face masks at home games due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic should spectators be allowed into Heinz Field during the 2020 season. Read more here.
- The NFL created another set of protocols for players and teams to follow during the upcoming season. Now, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league is forbidding players from postgame interactions within six feet and will no longer allow jersey swaps. Read more here.
- 49ers star CB Richard Sherman mocked the league for not allowing jersey exchanges but claiming games can safely be played with full contact. Read more here.
- Coaches and players won’t be required to wear masks on the sidelines. Everyone else in the bench does have to wear a mask, reports NFL insider Ian Rapoport. Read more here.
- Texans pass-rusher J.J. Watt says that if the league forces players to wear face masks while they play, he will sit out the season — though it sounds like since they won’t be required to wear them on the sidelines, it may be a moot point. Read more here.
- The NFLPA has three key priorities regarding safety this season. Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, they are: “securing daily testing, no preseason games, month-plus-long acclimation.” Fowler adds that the union could use preseason games as a trade chip for something else. Read more here.
- Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, there’s no chance the NFLPA goes for the NFL’s plan to withhold 35 percent of player salaries, and the union is ready to battle the league on the matter. Read more here.
- The league and union are still at odds over a number of issues, but they have come together on one key point: a club facility protocol for training camp. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the two sides are in agreement on a three-tier framework for facility access. Tier 1 will include players, coaches, trainers, doctors, the strength and conditioning coach, and the head equipment manager. Tier 2 includes non-playing personnel like the GM, and Tier 3 includes employees who perform facility or event services but who do not need to come into contact with Tier 1 personnel. One week before training camp, teams must submit to the league a list of personnel who will fall under each tier, a process that has generated some heated debate within some organizations. Read more here.
- The Ravens announced they will dramatically reduce their stadium capacity this year at M&T Bank Stadium. The team will reduce its seating capacity at M&T Bank Stadium to fewer than 14,000, if attendance is even allowed this year. Read more here.
- According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, both the league and the NFLPA are expecting to make an opt-out opportunity available to all players, though a deadline would be required for the decision to be made and communicated to the teams and the league. Read more here.
- Eagles star Malik Jackson blasted the NFL on Instagram over the league’s lack of safety protocols. “It is unacceptable and utterly disrespectful for the owners to have set a camp start date of July 28, 2020 with no safety/financial guarantee agreed upon for us as players, the backbone of this industry,” he said. Read more here.
- NFL Players Association president JC Tretter has voiced his criticism of the league’s plans for training camp and preseason, saying that the NFL is not adequately adjusting to the reality of the nationwide coronavirus pandemic. “Like many other industries, football’s resistance to change is based on the belief that the best way to run things is the way we’ve always run things,” Tretter wrote on the NFLPA website. “That pervasive thought process will stop this season in its tracks.” Read more here.
- The NFLPA is also might also take issue with the league over player salaries for 2020. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the NFLPA told its board that “the NFL proposed 35% of player salaries be held in escrow to help manage costs during the 2020 season.” This is to mitigate revenue loss due to crowdless games. Read more here.
- Bills WR Stefon Diggs tweeted his discomfort about playing during a pandemic. “I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable starting back up,” he tweeted. It’s difficult to imagine he’s the only player who feels that way. Read more here.
- Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told the Tampa Bay Times he doesn’t think any player will avoid sickness: “The players, they’re going to all get sick, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of how sick they get.” Read more here.
- According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL will test players and their family members for the coronavirus. The league’s goal is to ensure that the athletes and any persons living with the players don’t have the virus, creating a safe environment at the team facility and at home. Read more here.
- After rumors of the usual 90-man roster limit being lowered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFLPA may be on board with doing so as well. The union is seeking 80-man rosters for training camp, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk notes. Read more here.
- Packers CEO Mark Murphy is among the folks skeptical this season can take place. With the pandemic getting worse and cases of the coronavirus spiking, Murphy told the team’s website that “time is no longer on our side.” Read more here.
- Arians, who will turn 68 during the season, is aware that he is in a high-risk group for COVID-19. “I got to be real careful,” Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I’ll probably double with a mask and a (face) shield. Read more here.
- Although the NFL is feeling confident with the 2020 season, team coaches and GMs don’t feel the same. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports multiple team leaders are concerned by a lack of communication from the league on how the NFL intends to operate during the pandemic. Read more here.
- The NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams outlining COVID-19 protocols for training camp and preseason. The guidelines include what teams should do if a player or staffer has “close contact exposure” with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. See the rest of the rules here.
- The NFL was expected to announce a reduced roster list for training camp, and it has. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the NFLPA is requesting the league reduce roster sizes from 90 to 80 for the summer session. The proposal makes the NFL’s strict social distancing guidelines easier to follow, but it means fewer jobs for fringe players. Read more here.
- According to SI.com’s Albert Breer, some NFL teams have held off on finalizing contracts that they agreed to with free agents and draft picks months ago. As a team told one agent, ownership is fearful that the season will be canceled if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens. Read more here.
- According to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, the NFL is seeking a decision from each player about his availability for the entire 2020 season before training camp. While each player will have the right to opt out, sacrificing his 2020 salary, the league wants a decision before July 28, and players might not be allowed to change their minds once they reach a decision. Read more here.
- With two preseason games already eliminated, players are pushing for the NFL to take it a step further. The NFLPA voted unanimously to play no preseason games in 2020. It’s unclear if the NFL will consider the recommendation. Read more here.
- While no one is currently sure if fans will be allowed to attend games, the Packers are still making plans just in case. Green Bays announced there will be safety protocols in place; notably, fans will be required to wear masks at all times. Read more here.
- The NFL and NFLPA will be allowing fewer people inside locker rooms and on fields during training camp. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that 75-80 players will be invited to camps instead of the standard 90 players. Schefter added that rising coronavirus cases and spikes throughout the nation have some within the NFL wondering if training camps will begin on time.
- Although college football might need to delay its season, it appears the NFL is not willing to postpone the 2021 draft. Per USA Today’s Dan Wolken, CFB officials reached out to NFL execs to see if the league would be willing to push back next year’s draft, and the NFL said no. Read more here.
- The NFL has canceled the 2020 Supplemental Draft, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, the league office sent a memo to all 32 teams notifying them of the decision. Read more here.
- The NFL has decided to cut the 2020 preseason in half, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The league will eliminate the Week 1 and 4 games. Florio explains that the reasoning behind the move is to gives teams extra time to practice while also taking the burden off the road teams that would need to travel for exhibition games. Read more here.
- Despite the NFL’s decision to eliminate two preseason games, that is not a done deal. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that some union representatives may try to push the league to cancel all exhibition games. Read more here.
- Although it’s not yet known if fans will be allowed to attend NFL games, the league is considering a new policy in case they can. Per The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, the NFL is considering “requiring fans attending games this season to sign liability waivers shielding the teams from COVID-19 lawsuits.” Although the league doesn’t know what the future holds, it wants to shield itself from any possible lawsuits in the future. Read more here.
- NFLPA president J.C. Tretter is using his platform to question the legitimacy of starting the season amid the pandemic. “Trust me: we want to play football. But as a union, our most important job is keep our players safe and alive. The NFLPA will fight for our most at-risk players and their families,” Tretter said. Read more here.
- Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has implemented a rule that anyone entering the state from certain areas of the country will be forced to self-quarantine for 14 upon arrival. Most Patriots players do not live in Massachusetts full-time, so the new rules means those players will need to go there ASAP in order to participate in training camp. Read more here.
- NFL teams are in the midst of preparing for training camp. Teams can have to 90 players on their rosters throughout the preseason, but USA Today’s Mike Jones reports that the NFLPA is considering cutting rosters to 75 or 80 players. Fewer players means fewer chances of exposure to COVID-19, which would clearly make things safer for all those involved. Read more here.
- As teams are brainstorming ways to keep their players and staffers safe, a new idea has come to light. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports some teams are planning to “fly to and from road games on the day of the game” to limit exposure to individuals, such as hotel workers, who may not social distance and self-isolate through the fall. Florio notes game-day travel won’t be an option for teams flying cross-country. Predictably, NFL players are already reacting to the report. Tryann Mathieu and Allen Robinson are among the players who don’t think this is a good idea. Read more here.
- Dr. David Chao, who served as the Chargers team doctor from 1996-2013, told Sports Illustrated that he predicts the number of positive cases will skyrocket. While the NFL has created strict social distancing guidelines for team facilities, clubs will head into training camp with 90-man rosters, and it is inevitable that the coronavirus could be passed between players and staff. Read more here.
- Mark Davis of the Raiders was the only owner to oppose the NFL’s plan to tarp off seats in the first eight rows, as the team has sold out its games for the entire season. “I can’t imagine telling one fan they cannot attend the opening game of our inaugural season in Las Vegas at the most magnificent stadium that they helped to build. Let alone tell 3,500 fans that their seats are gone for the entire season,” Davis told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Those seats in the front rows are some of our most ardent fans, including members of the famed Black Hole. You think I want to sell advertising on their seats?” Read more here.
- As the U.S. continues to see a massive uptick in coronavirus cases, some folks around the NFL are concerned that the season won’t be completed. Joe Banner, who spent 20 years running front offices around the league, said: “The NFL people I talk to are still determined to try to start the season on time but are very worried about being able to finish it.” Read more here.
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has authorized the return of professional sports in her state. Whitmer made it clear that capacity crowds will not be permitted until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, but Detroit Lions team president Rod Wood is trying to get Ford Field opened up to fans just the same. Read more here.
- While the NFL might be confident the season will go on, the same isn’t true for teams. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said that when he speaks to people on teams, “they’re uneasy, they’re anxious, they’re concerned.” NFL teams will be the ones at risk if they play during this pandemic, and they seem pessimistic. Yet the league office and other top execs seem to be optimistic. Read more here.
- The NFL has canceled the Cowboys-Steelers Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 6 and has postponed the enshrinement ceremony, which was scheduled for Aug. 8. The Cowboys and Steelers are expected to play in the 2021 Hall of Fame Game, while the NFL’s plan for the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony is currently unknown. Read more here.
- Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, now a CNN contributor, said on the network that he is currently not sure if he’s going to play this season. Jenkins called NFL “non-essential” and that “the risk has to be eliminated before we — before I would feel comfortable with going back.” Read more here.
- Despite the uptick in coronavirus cases in many U.S. states, commissioner Roger Goodell told teams to expect to start training camp on time. However, shortening the preseason from four games to two is an idea, and it seems likely. Read more here.
- The league is discussing a reserve list for teams in the likely event a player contracts the coronavirus, according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, via SI.com’s Albert Breer. It appears the league is open to helping teams organize their rosters to deal with this scenario. The prospect of expanding practice squads has already surfaced. Read more here.
- NFL games will likely go on without fans in the stands. As a result of that loss of revenue, NFL insider Ian Rapoport said on “The Rich Eisen Show” that the “NFL and NFLPA will somehow be able to get the cap to be flat next year.” The 2021 salary cap was expected to skyrocket, but that clearly won’t happen now because of the pandemic. Read more here.
- Rapoport also said that from what he’s heard from various high-level NFL sources, the season “will go on as scheduled” with “minimal fans” in attendance at games initially. Multiple teams have encouraged the league to push back its regular-season schedule and start the season in October, but the NFL is still pushing for its original schedule. Thus far, approximately a third of NFL teams have had a player test positive for COVID-19. Read more here.
- According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Daily, the NFL will have the first six to eight rows of seating blocked off from fans this season in a bid to protect players and staff. That space will be covered with a tarp, and teams will be allowed to place sponsor logos on the tarp that will be visible on television. Read more here.
- Ezekiel Elliot is not sold on going forward with playing the 2020 NFL season in the wake of his positive COVID-19 test. Although he says he’s feeling back to normal, the Cowboys running back is concerned for players who have immediate family members with preexisting conditions or who may be in a high-risk group. “I do hope we have a season. But it has to be right,” Zeke said. Read more here.
- “There’s less optimism that fans will be in the stands than there was in early May,” Florio said on “The Rich Eisen Show.” If fans aren’t allowed to NFL games this season, the fallout would be significant for the league. While teams could use the space for local advertising and television deals would help account for a majority of the revenue, there would still be a massive economic fallout. Read more here.
- The league does not envision a uniform policy regarding attendance and is instead planning to leave it up to states to decide which teams can have spectators at venues, reports Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. Read more here.
- Mike Tomlin confirmed Tuesday that two Steelers players have tested positive for COVID-19. The 14th-year Steelers coach added that neither player has spent any time at Pittsburgh’s facility this offseason. Players who are not rehabbing injuries remain barred from teams’ facilities. Read more here.
- There were already some within the NFL supporting a delayed start to the regular season. Now, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the voices for pushing back the season are growing even louder. Read more here.
- Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News shared an email sent by the Giants informing fans that they can pass on buying tickets for this fall and resume plans for the 2021 season. Read more here.
- At least two Buccaneers players have tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Due to HIPAA laws, the team will not be releasing the names of the players. This comes after a Bucs assistant tested positive earlier in the week. Read more here.
- Due to the surge in cases among NFL teams, the NFLPA is advising players not to participate in group workouts. The announcement came as the union is negotiating with the league on creating safety protocols for the season. Read more here.
- The Patriots sent an email to season-ticket holders telling them that if they are in the high-risk group, they can skip the 2020-21 season but still retain their tickets for 2021-22, according to the Associated Press. Read more here.
- In typical NFL “nothing to see here” fashion, the league isn’t swayed by the rash of players testing positive for the coronavirus. Mike Florio of PFT reports the NFL is still “highly optimistic” the season will happen. However, Florio added that optimism doesn’t extend to fans attending games. Florio notes that most within the league believe that even if a player were to contract the virus, he would be fine because of his age. But the coaches are another matter, as many are older or in a high-risk group. Read more here.
- At the same workout in Nashville that saw star receiver Deebo Samuel break his foot, one of his 49ers teammates has now tested positive for COVID-19 following the group workout session. Read more here.
- Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, says the league will embrace an “ecosystem” model rather than a bubble. What exactly does that mean? It’s not totally clear, although it sounds like it leaves the door open for teams traveling and even playing in front of fans, which is something that the NBA and NHL have ruled out for their resumed seasons. Read more here.
- Despite the NFL chief medical officer’s remarks regarding bubble cities, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that for a football season to be possible, the NFL and NCAA would need to embrace the “bubble” format that will be used by the NBA and NHL in the upcoming months. Fauci does not seem to share the league’s optimism, instead noting that football is “the perfect set-up” for the coronavirus to spread. Read more here.
- The NFL will test players for COVID-19 multiple times per week. When a player tests positive for the virus, the league’s chief medical officer made it clear that they will be kept off the field for a long time: “You’re looking at someone missing at least a couple of weeks time if you have a positive time. … At a minimum it will be a couple of weeks time.” Read more here.
- An asymptomatic assistant coach for the Buccaneers has tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who also notes two additional Bucs staffers have been quarantined. The state of Florida has seen a dramatic increase in cases over the past several days. Read more here.
- Although several NFL players and staffers have tested positive recently, Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said he’s “confident” fans will able to attend games at Soldier Field, per Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times. Considering Dr. Fauci’s stance and common sense, this idea seems unrealistic. Read more here.
- NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said Wednesday that the league sees no need to play in a bubble, stating that extensive testing and contact tracing should be sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among players and staff. In other words, the plan is still for all 32 teams to be able to play in their home stadiums in the fall. Read more here.
- Broncos star Kareem Jackson is the latest current NFL player to test positive for COVID-19. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the 32-year-old had “cold-like” symptoms at the time he learned he had COVID-19. Read more here.
- Mercedes Benz Stadium, home of the New Orleans Saints, announced that 32 of the 275 workers tasked with renovating the complex have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s a stunning 11.6 percent of workers. Read more here.
- Several Cowboys and Texans players tested positive for COVID-19 recently, according to Ian Rapoport of Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. The teams followed the appropriate health protocols, and none of the players were believed to have been in their teams’ facilities at any point. Read more here.
- Rapoport followed up by revealed Cowboys Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott was among the players who tested positive. Read more here.
- A while after the shocking news of the positive coronavirus tests broke, tenured NFL insider Ed Werder shared that one NFL head coach sees the positive tests as “scary,” that one thinks the season should be delayed, and that another NFL head coach “questioned wisdom of playing during a pandemic.” Read more here.
- According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith told agents the league is estimating that a season without fans would result in $3 billion less in revenue. It remains unclear if NFL teams will be able to host fans. Read more here.
- A direct consequence of the $3 billion revenue loss could be a lower salary cap. In fact, the NFLPA is bracing players’ agents for the possibility that the 2021 salary cap could be “a lot lower than expected,” according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. Read more here.
Mike Ehrmann-Handout Photo
The latest from the world of golf since competition resumed:
- The PGA Tour announced the 2020 World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational held at TPC Southwind in Memphis will occur July 30-Aug. 2 as scheduled but without spectators in attendance due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
- The PGA of America is planning to announce that the Ryder Cup (scheduled to occur at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin this September) is postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, per ESPN’s Bob Harig. Read more here.
- The Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament held at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio from July 16-19 will not welcome spectators as hoped amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
- PGA Tour golfer Cameron Champ isn’t convinced he had the coronavirus when he withdrew from the Travelers Championship last week. Champ says that even though he tested positive ahead of the Travelers Championship, that it probably was a false positive. “Through the specialist that we worked with, at this point it’s clear that I never had it,” Champ said, according to Yahoo Sports. ”Still being precautious because if I happen to do get it, then it affects my family deeply.” Read more here.
- Harris English withdrew from the Rocket Mortgage Classic held in Detroit after he became the fifth PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus. English did not play in last week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Hartford, Conn., but he tested positive on Monday upon his arrival to Detroit. Read more here.
- The PGA Tour has announced a major change to one of its safety policies in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak among golfers. The new rule prohibits players from coming on property while waiting for their first test results in a new city, according to ESPN’s Nick Pietruszkiewicz. Starting next week, all who are considered to be “inside the bubble” will need a negative test result before being allowed on the course. This includes players, caddies, instructors, doctors and other various staff members. The Tour previously allowed players and caddies to come on site while awaiting their coronavirus test results. Read more here.
- “At least one player, possibly two, tested have positive for COVID-19 at the Travelers Championship,” reported Brian Wacker of Golf Digest. It’s not yet known which player(s) tested positive for the virus. Read more here.
- Denny McCarthy then withdrew from the Travelers Championship held at TPC River Highlands in Hartford after he became the third PGA Tour player confirmed to test positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.
- Graeme McDowell is set to withdraw from the Travelers Championship on Wednesday following the news that his caddie has tested positive for the coronavirus. McDowell’s caddie, Ken Comboy, believes he may have been exposed to the virus after the Charles Schwab Challenge two weeks ago when he was forced to fly in a full commercial flight to Orlando because his private plane was too small for his traveling party. Read more here.
- Brooks Koepka is withdrawing from this week’s Travelers Championship as well after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the coronavirus, the golfer told Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch. Elliott previously tested negative for the virus on Monday but received his positive diagnosis after a test Wednesday morning at TPC River Highlands. Read more here.
- PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed that Webb Simpson and Chase Koepka added their names to the list of players who pulled out from this week’s Travelers Championship held at TPC River Highlands in Hartford, Conn. due to COVID-19 concerns. Monahan explained that Chase Koepka and Simpson both produced negative on-site tests but withdrew out of caution. Read more here.
- The PGA Tour has confirmed its second positive COVID-19 test since resuming its season amid the pandemic this month. The PGA announced that Cameron Champ withdrew from the Travelers Championship held at TPC River Highlands in Hartford, Conn., after he recorded a positive test. Read more here.
- The PGA Tour confirmed that the PGA Championship would go down at San Francisco’s Harding Park without spectators because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The first major championship of the season won’t be moved from Harding Park even though the Tour strongly considered relocating the tournament so that a percentage of spectators could watch the action in person. Instead, the PGA Championship, postponed from May 14-17 to Aug. 6-9, will take place on the West Coast as planned. Read more here.
- The Ryder Cup — originally scheduled to take place this September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin — likley will be postponed to 2021, according to Ewan Murray of The Guardian. Murray adds that the PGA of America and the European Tour, which both chair the Ryder Cup, won’t consider holding the competition without fans on the course. Read more here.
- Roughly 48 hours after the PGA Tour boasted about recording zero positive results among 954 on-site coronavirus tests over the past two weeks, one player has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Rival’s Nathan Hubbard tweeted the news on Friday and added that the Tour hasn’t yet confirmed. Read more here.
- Despite a mandatory two-week quarantine following international travel to the U.S., Rory McIlroy says that anyone who is serious about golfing should be willing to deal with it. McIlroy has been staying in his home in Florida, so travel to the U.S. hasn’t been an issue for him. “We all have the means to rent a very nice house … and it’s not a hardship for two weeks to come over and quarantine,” he said, per ESPN. Read more here.
- The PGA Tour has recorded its second straight week of no positive COVID-19 tests among players, caddies and other personnel. The Tour administered 954 on-site tests, and they all have come back negative. Read more here.
Brynn Anderson-Pool Photo
What’s the latest from the world of NASCAR:
- Jimmie Johnson was forced to miss a race for the first time in his career following a positive coronavirus test, and he expressed his confusion with the whole situation, as he never had any symptoms and tested negative just three days later. “My first response was just anger. I started cussing and used every cuss word that I knew of and I think invented a few new ones,” Johnson said. “It was just so weird — the anger — because I’ve been asymptomatic. Anger hits. Read more here.
- After testing positive for COVID-19 last week and missing the Brickyard 400, seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson will return to the track. The 44-year-old tested negative for the coronavirus twice, according to the Associated Press, and has been cleared to race at Kentucky Speedway. Read more here.
- NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson announced in a statement that he has tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, he will miss Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “My first priority is the health and safety of my loved ones and my teammates,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’ve never missed a race in my Cup career.” Read more here.
- NASCAR announced fans will be allowed to attend races on a limited basis starting on Sunday, June 14. There will be 1,000 military members invited to attend Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 in Miami, while 5,000 fans can sit in the grandstand at the GEICO 500 at Talladega on June 21. NASCAR will implement numerous safety guidelines at the first sporting events with fans in attendance since the pandemic began. Read more here.
- Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported NASCAR executives recently had discussions about allowing fans to return to the stands as early as some time in June. Stern cites Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway as tracks that could be among the first to welcome fans (in a limited capacity) back to the stands. Read more here.
- NASCAR returned with the Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway. The race, which was won by Kevin Harvick, featured increased safety measures, including social distancing, limited team members and temperature checks. The event drew over 6.3 million viewers. The Xfinity Series resumed on May 21 in Darlington. Chase Briscoe won the race.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
The most recent news from the NCAA:
- The Maryland Terps football team has canceled voluntary workouts after nine of 158 student-athletes tested returned positive results. Despite this being about a 5% positive test rate, those in charge at Maryland decided canceling workouts made the most sense. Read more here.
- SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is now admitting football could be in jeopardy. During an interview on ESPN Radio’s “Marty & McGee,” Sankey admitted that his concern for the upcoming football season is “high to very high.” Given SEC teams will open their schedules in the first week of September, he also admitted that the conference is running out of time to get things done. Read more here.
- The athletic directors of the SEC are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the fall sports schedule, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown no signs of slowing down with September quickly approaching. According to sources, the plan for the meeting is for SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to hear from each of the athletic directors in order to hear their concerns and ideas regarding sports being played this fall. It is expected that no major decisions will be made during the meeting, as most athletic directors are fine with letting more time pass before having to decide about the fate of their conference’s sports. Read more here.
- UConn has reported zero positive COVID-19 results among 150 student-athletes tested since June 19. Read more here.
- The Pac-12 announced conference-only schedules for football and other fall sports. The conference also temporarily postponed mandatory athletic activities. Football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball are all affected by this announcement. Read more here.
- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has tested positive for the coronavirus. The conference released a statement about the situation, saying Scott got tested after experiencing mild flu-like symptoms. Scott is said to be self-quarantining while continuing to operate in his role as commissioner. Read more here.
- A recent survey of all 130 FBS athletic directors was conducted by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy. Of the 130 ADs polled, 73 percent indicated they expect the 2020 college football season to be delayed. Even more alarming for Power 5 conference, only 22 percent of their athletic directors believe the season will start on schedule. Read more here.
- Division III’s Centennial Conference became the latest sports league to suspend sports this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centennial Conference, home to 11 programs, announced that it will suspend all sports for the remainder of the year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- Stanford announced it is cutting 11 varsity sports programs due to ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs include men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. Read more here.
- The Big Ten conference has announced that fall sports will play conference-only games, if the seasons happen at all. This applies to football, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. Additionally, the Big Ten also added that member institutions will honor the scholarships of student-athletes who decide not to participate in their respective sports this season due to coronavirus-related concerns. Read more here.
- The Pac-12 is also considering playing conference-only games in 2020, according to college football reporter Brian Fischer. Read more here.
- Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told reporters he’s “very concerned” about the outlook for the 2020 CFB season, via Peter Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith echoed those thoughts, also saying he’s “very concerned” for the state of fall college sports, via ESPN Cleveland. Read more about Warren’s thoughts here, and check out what else Smith said here.
- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is also skeptical about 2020 college football, telling ESPN’s Heather Dinich it’s “less likely” the season starts on time. Read more here.
- New Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway told reporters that he expects a decision from the Big Ten Conference within a few weeks on the status of the 2020 football season. Read more here.
- Northwestern University confirmed that the football team’s Nov. 7 game against Big Ten opponent Wisconsin scheduled to occur at Wrigley Field has been moved from the home of the Chicago Cubs because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. While the title of the Northwestern statement says the game is postponed, ESPN’s Dave Wilson reported that Northwestern could host Wisconsin for a standard home game if the season plays out. Read more here.
- The Ivy League has canceled football and all other fall sports, per CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. No fall sports will be played until at least the start of the new year. The conference will provide an update on winter sports in “mid-July.” Stadium’s Brett McMurphy added that the Ivy League football campaign could be pushed back to the spring, or that the conference’s next season may not begin until the fall of 2021. Read more here.
- The North Carolina Tar Heels football program is the latest to suspend voluntary workouts due to a coronavirus outbreak. On Wednesday, ESPN.com’s David M. Hale confirmed that the university halted football activities for a minimum of one week after 37 student-athletes, coaches and staff members returned positive coronavirus tests. Read more here.
- Carnegie Mellon has decided to cancel fall sports. Athletic director Josh Centor told students in an email on Wednesday: “We cannot appropriately return to sport at this time.” Read more here.
- Ohio State announced it is pausing voluntary workouts after positive COVID-19 tests. “Seven teams’ workouts are affected by this pause: men’s and women’s basketball, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball,” the statement read. It’s not known when Ohio State intends to resume training sessions. Read more here.
- Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that zero of the 103 Notre Dame football players tested returned positive results last week. To date, only one player has tested positive, while the school has accumulated 251 negative tests among personnel. Read more here.
- As uncertainty grows regarding the 2020 college football season, there is “increased momentum” to delay the campaign until the spring, per New York Post’s Howie Kussoy and Zach Braziller, who reported that one Power Five athletic director said: “What’s most sensible is the spring.” Read more here.
- Some have been speculating that the 2020 college football season will not be able to start as planned, and there has been a debate as to whether or not spring football would work. Count Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley among those who think spring CFB is “very doable.” While he made it clear he prefers to play in the fall if its safe, Riley is willing to wait until the spring. Read more here.
- Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is no longer feeling optimistic about the 2020 CFB season. “I think the situation’s a lot more perilous than it was a few weeks ago,” Scott said, via the NCAA. The U.S. is currently seeing a massive spike in several areas of the country, most notably Florida, California and Arizona. Read more here.
- Kansas’ athletic department announced Friday that it is suspending voluntary workouts for the football team indefinitely after 12 players tested positive for COVID-19. In the statement, the university said it will require every football player and staff member to self-quarantine for 14 days, following the CDC’s guidelines for those in close contact with a person carrying the virus. Read more here.
- ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum continues to be pessimistic regarding the state of the 2020 college football season. Finebaum stated the chances of the season getting played is “below 50 percent.” Read more here.
- The administration for USC sent a letter to its student body earlier this week, recommending that students take classes online and avoid housing themselves on or near campus. The administration did leave open the possibility of low-density activities on campus. That could obviously include the Trojans football team, but for now, this is not great news as it relates to the 2020 college football season. Read more here.
- Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott laid out various scenarios for the college football season. Per Jon Wilner of the Mercury News, Scott said the scenarios are: playing all 12 games as scheduled, a delayed start, conference-only schedules, and moving the season to the spring. Scott also indicated that there’s a chance certain Pac-12 teams could play this fall while others sit the season out. Read more here.
- New Iona basketball coach Rick Pitino tweeted some thoughts about the upcoming CBB campaign, urging the NCAA to delay the start of 2020 CBB season until January. Additionally, he suggests team play only league games as an additional safety measure. As it relates to his ideas, Pitino said: “Although I can’t wait to be back on the sidelines, the health of my players and staff is what’s really important.” Read more here.
- Rutgers president Jonathan Holloway is throwing cold water on the possibility of playing a college football season this year. Holloway spoke with NJ Advance Media’s Adam Clark and said: I think we are far from certain that we are going to have a college football season in the fall. Maybe in the spring, but even then we are just guessing right now.” Read more here.
- As it pertains to spring college football, count Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour among those who are against that idea. Per ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Barbour said: “One of the biggest challenges [of a spring season] — and it’s probably the biggest one in my mind — is the proximity to next season, and frankly a second lost spring ball.” Read more here.
- Add Oklahoma Sooners football to the list of college teams experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. Bruce Feldman from The Athletic reported there are 12 players who have active cases of the coronavirus, plus two others who have recovered. There’s also two cases among the coaching staff. Read more here.
- Earlier this week, a report emerged indicating that some universities have requested that football players and other student-athletes sign coronavirus-related waivers that exonerate schools if any COVID-19 claims are later filed, per Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Cory Booker introduced legislation on Tuesday to prohibit those waivers, per Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. Read more here.
- Southeast Missouri and Dayton have announced that their matchup on Sept. 3 is canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the decision is mutual, Dayton cited challenges created by the pandemic as the reasoning to cancel the game. Specifically, the Flyers wouldn’t have enough time to prepare themselves for the season with practice time dramatically limited by the worsening pandemic. Read more here.
- With coronavirus cases and spikes growing throughout pockets of the United States as July approaches, SEC insider Paul Finebaum gave a grim update on the possibility of the college football season starting in late August, as planned, while speaking on ESPN’s “Get Up” Friday morning. “Many people in college football … privately are saying that the likelihood of the season being delayed is very good,” he said. Read more here.
- Morehouse College will not have a football or cross country season this fall due to COVID-19 concerns, the school announced Friday. President David A. Thomas released a statement saying that the college will not compete in intercollegiate athletic competitions not only to keep athletes safe, but everyone else on campus as well. Read more here.
- Texas Tech University’s athletic department announced that it conducted 197 COVID-19 tests of football players and staff. The results determined that 23 members of the Red Raiders’ football program had the coronavirus. While the 23 cases is among the highest figures to be reported by colleges thus far, none of those with the virus have been hospitalized and 21 have recovered. Read more here.
- Clemson has announced that 14 additional football players have tested positive for COVID-19. That brings the total up to 37 cases. Read more here.
- Multiple Power Five conferences are considering delaying their championship games. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also shared with The Athletic that he has discussed moving the conference title game back. Big Ten athletic directors have reportedly discussed aligning with the Big 12 and Pac 10 by pushing back their conference title games. Read more here.
- As several schools have been forced to eliminate sports programs, Michigan might be next. Michigan, one of the most recognized schools in the U.S. and a powerhouse in athletics, estimates a $26.1 million budget deficit for the 2020-21 academic year. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel is projecting a dire situation for the Wolverines, as he described to The Detroit News. It could become even worse if there is no college football season this year. Read more here.
- Georgetown basketball head coach and NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing has provided an update on his coronavirus diagnosis. Ewing was hospitalized in May due to COVID-19, but he told John Fanta of the Big East Conference on Thursday that he’s “doing better.” Ewing also said he wasn’t sure how he caught it, but he cautioned people to be very careful going forward, saying: “For those folks who are not taking this coronavirus seriously, please do.” Read more here.
- The University of Connecticut is officially eliminating four of its sports programs, becoming the latest school to make significant cuts from its athletics program amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The board made the cuts official, per the Hartford Courant’s Alexa Philippou, approving the new budget on Wednesday. As a result, the Huskies will eliminate their men’s cross country, men’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and women’s rowing programs at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Read more here.
- Penn State head coach James Franklin has announced that he will be isolating himself away from his family this season. Franklin told HBO’s “Real Sports” that his family will remain in Florida while he coaches the Nittany Lions to protect his 12-year-old daughter, who suffers from sickle cell disease and is therefore considered a high-risk individual for COVID-19. Franklin is unlikely the only college coach to have an immediate family fall into that category. Perhaps other coaches will follow suit. Read more here.
- Regarding fan attendance, Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer says he is “planning on a full stadium.” As for his thinking, he believes it’s easier to prepare for the high-end scenario and adjust down than the other way around. Read more here.
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local health officials are urging Iowa State University to make a significant sacrifice this fall. The Story County Board of Health has asked Iowa State not to allow fans to attend any games, including football, this fall. As health officials described, according to to WeAreIowa.com, there is likely no way events with mass gatherings can be held and stay remotely safe for the general public. Read more here.
- The University of Florida has become the latest school to see a spike in the coronavirus, confirming that 11 student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.
- In the wake of coronavirus spikes among CFB teams and growing uncertainty on if there will be a college football season, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey provided a clue for when the conference will make a decision on the upcoming campaign. Sankey described a mid-July time timeline: “On the 13th of July is when a little bit more practice can begin. I think we deserve the chance to see how that progresses.” Read more here.
- At least 30 LSU football players are now in quarantine due to a COVID-19 outbreak, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger. The Athletic’s Brody Miller reported that there are at least a dozen positive cases on the football team. Read more here.
- A concerning report emerged regarding UCLA football. Thirty UCLA football players are backing a document that claims the athletes don’t trust head coach Chip Kelly to follow safety protocols, according to J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times. Players request that a “third-party health official” attend all activities, such as voluntary workouts, to ensure Kelly and others follow recommended guidelines and restrictions during the pandemic. Although some players would later apologize for the document becoming public, this is certainly an eyebrow-raising allegation. Read more here.
- Clemson announced that 28 student-athletes returned positive COVID-19 results out of 315 tests. The Athletic’s Grace Raynor reported 23 of those 28 athletes are football players. Most individuals were described to be asymptomatic. None required hospitalization as of the start of the weekend. Read more here.
- Reports emerged that Texas had six players who tested positive for COVID-19 and that “at least” 15 players were in quarantine due to contact tracing. On Thursday, Texas announced 13 players have tested positive for COVID-19 or are presumed positive, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman. Ten more players are also in self-quarantine and are asymptomatic. Read more here.
- Colorado also discovered two of its football players tested positive for COVID-19, reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. Read more here.
- The 31st Southern Heritage Classic has been canceled due to COVID-19, including the annual football game between Jackson State and Tennessee State has also been canceled in 2020. In a social media announcement, the event shared that refunds for the football game can be received at the point of purchase. Read more here.
According to Chip Brown of 247 Sports, the Texas Longhorns had six players test positive for the coronavirus. Due to contact tracing, there are “at least 15” players in quarantine at this time. Last week, half the team was tested, resulting in two positive results. This week, the other half of the team was tested. Read more here.
- Kansas State recently allowed players to resume voluntary workouts this week after a round of COVID-19 tests came up negative. The team believed the coast was clear with seemingly no member of the football team having the coronavirus. Unfortunately, per 247 Sports’ GoPowercat, that proved to not be the case. Two players who arrived late to campus were allowed to train with some of their teammates during an off-campus workout. The decision was made before the players’ test results came in, which later revealed they had the coronavirus. Read more here.
- Despite outbreaks at multiple schools, USC athletic director Mike Bohn believes it’s possible that fans will be able to attend football games at the Coliseum. Per Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times, Bohn wrote in a letter to season-ticket holders that USC is “preparing for the possibility that fans will be permitted to attend games this year in a reduced capacity Coliseum.” Read more here.
- ESPN spoke with and polled 73 anonymous players from across the FBS on a variety of topics relating to the football season and coronavirus, and a majority of players are OK with playing and practicing without a vaccine, but they do have some stipulations. Of the 73 players polled, 64 are comfortable playing and practicing without a vaccine. Among their stipulations, though, are that they need to be allowed to see their families, consistent testing for all involved and professional advising on the situation. Read more here.
- Ohio State has required its football players to sign a coronavirus waiver acknowledging the risks they are taking on by returning to campus and participating in the team’s offseason program, according to Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch. The waiver also contains a “Buckeye pledge” — which urges players to “take responsibility for my own health and help stop the spread of the COVID-19.” Read more here.
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Here is what has happened most recently in the world of tennis:
- Even though Wimbledon has been canceled, all qualified players still will get paid. The All England Lawn and Tennis Club, which hosts Wimbledon, announced Friday that it will pay prize money to all players that would have qualified for the canceled tournament, according to ESPN. Read more here.
- Tennis star Novak Djokovic has become a very controversial character since his Adria Tour was held with thousands of spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic. Djokovic and his wife later tested positive, and so did other tour participants. Now he thinks the media has treated him unfairly. “It’s like an agenda and a witch-hunt are on,” Djokovic told the Serbian newspaper, Sportski Zurnal, (h/t TMZ). Read more here.
- Novak Djokovic and his wife have tested negative for coronavirus just 10 days after it was revealed the couple had tested positive. After testing positive, Djokovic and Jelena went into self-isolation, and before testing negative, the two had not shown any symptoms of COVID-19. The two tested positive shortly after Djokovic organized the Adria Tour, an exhibition held in Zadar, Croatia. Read more here.
- The French Open is planning to have fans in the stands, as the French Tennis Federation announced that over half the amount of usual fans will be allowed to attend the tournament. “The number of spectators allowed in the stadium will be 50%-60% of the usual capacity,” the FFT said. “This reduction will allow strict distancing measures to be respected.” Read more here.
- There is some drama in the tennis world in the wake of Novak Djokovic testing positive for the coronavirus. The world No. 1’s father has accused Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov of causing the spike in COVID-19 cases that has seen both Novak and his wife, Jelena, infected. Dimitrov was the first player to test positive for COVID-19 after the second leg of Djokovic’s exhibition tournament that began in Serbia before moving on to Croatia. Read more here.
- Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, tested positive for coronavirus shortly after organizing and participating in an “exhibition” in Croatia. Djokovic announced his wife had tested positive as well, explaining “the moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is to positive.” Read more here.
- Serena Williams has confirmed she will play in the U.S. Open, which will take place without fans in attendance. “I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the U.S. Open 2020,” Williams said. The Open runs from Aug. 31 through Sept. 13 and will be the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis play was suspended in March. Read more here.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo officially gave the go-ahead for the U.S. Open to begin as scheduled, which would make it the first sporting event to be held in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With the schedule tentatively set, the big question remaining is will the big names in tennis show up for the tournament? Read more here.
- Nick Kyrgios has criticized the plan, calling the idea of not delaying the tournament “selfish” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
- One of the biggest tennis tournaments in the United States is set to begin at the end of the summer, and the USTA reportedly is moving ahead with its plans to play the US Open beginning on Aug. 31, according to ESPN’s Peter Bodo. The ATP and WTA have “embraced” the plan, Bodo adds citing sources, and it appears the USTA will make an announcement regarding the US Open once they get the green light from health officials in New York. Read more here.
- Novak Djokovic expressed concerns about participating in the U.S. Open in August due to the extreme restrictions that are expected to be put in place due to the coronavirus. Djokovic noted that players would be able to bring only a single person to the club, which he was skeptical about. Read more here.
Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com-NorthJersey
Pro wrestling news over the past few weeks:
- PWInsider’s Mike Johnson reported that WWE relocated SummerSlam and the accompanying editions of “Raw” and “SmackDown” to its Performance Center because of the uncontrolled virus outbreak. The pay-per-view card will occur at the Florida site on Aug. 23. According to the Wrestling Observer, an NXT Takeover show is scheduled to air on the WWE Network on Aug. 22. Read more here.
- Former WWE wrestler Kane now goes by another name: Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who is mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. The county’s board of health voted on an ordinance to make wearing masks mandatory for anyone who is inside certain buildings. The ordinance passed 7-1, with the lone “no” vote cast by Jacobs, according to Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports. Kane, of course, was known for wearing a mask during his WWE tenure. Interestingly, Jacobs does not believe in wearing masks during a pandemic. Read more here.
- John Pollock of Post Wrestling confirmed that WWE postponed taping for Monday’s “Raw” from Friday to Saturday, while the June 26 edition of “SmackDown” was still being produced live-to-tape as originally intended. As noted by Post Wrestling, on-air talents Renee Young and Kayla Braxton, along with Adam Pearce and Jamie Noble, all recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.
- At least three people within WWE have tested positive for COVID-19, including in-ring talent, according to Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer adds that WWE has known about the test results for about a week. On the AEW side, President and CEO Tony Khan tweeted that world champion Jon Moxley (known as Dean Ambrose in WWE) was off Wednesday’s “Dynamite” show after he was exposed to somebody with COVID-19. Read more here.
- Professional wrestling and mixed martial arts journalist Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported that WWE postponed its taping schedule for Tuesday after a developmental performer tested positive for the coronavirus. Previously, the Observer noted that WWE executive Paul Levesque, known as “Triple H,” declined to directly answer if the promotion repeatedly tested performers and other personnel for the coronavirus. Read more here.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
- When Jorge Masvidal faces welterweight champion Kamaru Usman in the headliner of Saturday’s UFC 251 show held at the Fight Island location on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the challenger will be without a longtime coach. As Danny Segura of MMA Junkie wrote, Brazilian outlet Combate reported on Tuesday that Mike Brown won’t be in Masvidal’s corner on Saturday after the American Top Team coach and former WEC world champion tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.
- While speaking with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Gilbert Burns confirmed that a positive coronavirus diagnosis forced him out of Saturday’s UFC 251 main event versus welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Burns explained that he flew from Florida to Las Vegas last Thursday, where he returned a positive result. Read more here.
- Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s father, Abdulmanap, died from coronavirus complications, according to Russian outlet RT.com. He was 57. Abdulmanap died from brain injuries caused by a stroke after fighting the virus, RT.com says. Read more here.
- Dana White confirmed UFC’s first bout on Fight Island — Yas Island in Abu Dhabi — will take place on July 11. UFC 251 will be Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway, Petr Yan vs. Jose Aldo. Read more here.
- While speaking with TMZ ahead of Saturday’s UFC 250 card headlined by featherweight champion Amanda Nunes defending her belt against Felicia Spencer, UFC boss Dana White explained Fight Island will be open for business on July 11. There will be an octagon outside on a beach, and the island features an arena and areas where fighters can train while maintaining social-distancing practices during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to White. Read more here.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
What’s new in boxing:
- Boxing legend Roberto Durán has tested positive for the coronavirus after going to a hospital in Panama on Thursday with cold-like symptoms, he announced on Instagram. Read more here.
- The junior welterweight boxing match on Top Rank on ESPN between Jose Pedraza and Mikkel LesPierre has been canceled after Josie Taveras, LesPierre’s manager, tested positive for COVID-19. In light of the cancellation, the junior lightweight fight between Gabe Flores Jr. and Josec Ruiz is now the main event. Read more here.
- SI’s Chris Mannix reported the third installment of Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin will be postponed. The fight was originally scheduled for Sept. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but the promoters did not want the bout to go on unless fans can attend. Canelo won the first fight, but the second bout came to a draw. Read more here.
- The Associated Press reported Top Rank Boxing got the green light to return to Las Vegas, with the organization intending to hold multiple events on June 9 and 11 at the MGM Grand. Read more here.
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2020 Summer Olympics
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The latest from the IOC:
- Team USA basketball coach Gregg Popovich had some encouraging words about the Olympics taking place next summer. Per the Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds, Pop cited Japan’s successful response to the pandemic for why he’s optimistic the Olympics can take place in Tokyo in 2021. Read more here.
- The International Olympic Committee says it will provide added support services to athletes worldwide through Athlete365, as an added layer to help them with the challenges that have arisen amid the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of this year’s games.
- IOC president Thomas Bach said, “You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty,” according to the BBC.
- Tokyo Games president Yoshiro Mori said these Olympics would be canceled entirely if they can’t take place on the new date. Read more here.
- The 2020 Summer Games were set to take place in Tokyo July 24 through Aug. 9 but now are tentatively scheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021. The sad truth is that no one knows what the world will look like a year from now and whether the games can take place then either. Read more here.
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
MLS and NWSL most recent developments:
- One Sporting Kansas City player tested positive for the coronavirus at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex bubble site being used for the MLS is Back tournament, according to numerous reports. Read more here.
- MLS confirmed that Wednesday’s Nashville SC versus Chicago Fire match is postponed due to five Nashville players testing positive for the virus at the bubble site. The MLS statement added that two players learned of their positive results over the July 4 weekend. Three others received positive results on Monday evening. Four players require additional testing due to inconclusive results. Read more here.
- As expected, LAFC star forward and reigning MLS MVP Carlos Vela won’t take part in the MLS is Back tournament scheduled to begin on Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, ESPN’s Herculez Gomez and Jeff Carlisle hinted that the 31-year-old would opt out of the competition held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex because his wife is pregnant. Read more here.
- The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio and Sam Stejskal reported that FC Dallas will not play in the tournament either. ESPN’s Stefano Fusaro verified that story during an on-air segment. Last week, FC Dallas confirmed that six players tested positive for the coronavirus upon the club’s arrival to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex bubble site. Those players quarantined at the team’s hotel away from others. Read more here.
- The FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match in MLS is Back tournament has been postponed. The date has yet to be revealed. Dallas has been quarantined since the team arrived in Orlando on June 27, preventing players from training. Vancouver was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, but was delayed because of two inconclusive coronavirus tests. The tests have since been confirmed negative, and the team will travel to Orlando on Monday. Read more here.
- MLS side FC Dallas has suffered a COVID-19 among its players. 3rd Degree initially reported the side has six confirmed positive test results upon the team’s arrival to its hotel. MLS confirmed the news, via The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio. However, Tenorio notes there have been no other positive tests among teams in the bubble. Read more here.
- Louisville City FC of the second-tier USL Championship will be able to allow fans when the team’s season kicks off on July 12. As ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle wrote on Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has approved that venue to operate at 50 percent of the 15,304-seat capacity when Louisville City face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Read more here.
- The Orlando Pride announced that the team has withdrawn from the competition due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests among players and coaches. Those who tested positive as well as exposed individuals will quarantine for 14 days. Read more here.
- Atlanta United is the latest MLS team to announce a positive coronavirus test. Atlanta confirmed a first-team player tested positive, and the club plans to conduct widespread testing on Friday while continuing league-approved workout protocols. Read more here.
- We now have a better idea of MLS’s tournament schedule. Inter Miami CF vs. Orlando City is among the July 8 tournament fixtures. Kickoff time and the TV broadcasts of the match aren’t known. Read more here.
- MLS, in conjunction with Walt Disney World, announced Wednesday that the “MLS Is Back Tournament” will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from July 8 to Aug. 11. The tournament will have all 26 clubs competing in a continuous schedule of 54 total matches that will be played nearly every day. These matches will count toward the 2020 MLS regular-season standings, and the tournament winner will earn a spot in the 2021 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Read more here.
- MLS commissioner Don Garber said he’s hopeful teams will be able to host some fans in their home stadiums later in the year after the tournament ends. Several states have started allowing small gatherings, as local governments continue loosening guidelines. Read more here.
- MLS and the MLS Players Association agreed to terms for an amended collective bargaining agreement that will likely include a July return to action. All 26 clubs could report to the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World by June 24, and there will be a tournament held in Orlando. Read more here.
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Ulrich Hufnagel/Xinhua/Sipa USA
Most recent news from international soccer circles:
- According to ESPN, soccer in the Netherlands will resume on Sept. 15 with 15 percent to 35 percent of stadiums available for spectators. No away supporters will be allowed, however. Spectators will need to remain about five feet apart, bring masks and buy drinks from roaming sellers rather than waiting in line at kiosks. Read more here.
- The English government has warned the Premier League about not following social distancing protocols, according to Sam Wallace of The Telegraph. The government is warning the top flight about footballers and coaches failing to maintain social distancing rules following goals or during each per-half hydration break. Read more here.
- The English Premier League announced that it recorded zero positive COVID-19 results in the competition’s latest round of testing. Per Sky Sports and other outlets, England’s top flight tested 1,973 players and club staff members between June 29 and July 5. Sky added that individual clubs are also testing footballers amid training sessions. Read more here.
- Wigan became the first professional English side to enter into administration amid the coronavirus pandemic. Lack of funding from the side’s new owners as well a financial burden placed on clubs since the pandemic started played a part, per BBC, which notes that other clubs might be in the same position soon. Read more here.
- Rising coronavirus cases sent Leicester back into lockdown and put the Premier League fixture between Leicester City and Crystal Palace, scheduled to occur at the King Power Stadium on July 4, in doubt, per Sky News. However, Leicester announced they’ve been given the green light to host Palace and other opponents as the English top-flight completes the 2019-20 season this summer. Read more here.
- As expected, supporters will not be welcomed to stadiums in Portugal when the 2019-20 Champions League quarterfinals begin via a single-game elimination format on Aug. 12. Read more here.
- Paris Saint-Germain hit their first obstacle upon a return to training when the club announced that three players and one staff member “showed historic positive” test results for the coronavirus. Read more here.
- The Athletic’s David Ornstein reported that an Arsenal player tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of last week’s clash with City. The unnamed player and two other footballers exposed to that individual missed three training sessions due to self-isolation guidelines enforced whenever somebody associated with a club tests positive for COVID-19. Once antigen and antibody tests for the person in question came back negative, all three men were welcomed back to training. They traveled to Manchester for the City game. Read more here.
- As expected, UEFA confirmed that the 2019-20 Champions League competition will finish in Lisbon, Portugal in August under unique circumstances. ESPN’s Mark Ogden and Goal.com noted that the remaining round-of-16 fixtures could occur either at the grounds of home clubs or be relocated to Portugal for Aug. 7-8. From there, the rest of the tournament will move to a single-elimination format with fixtures played at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and Sporting’s Estadio Jose Alvalade. Quarterfinal contests begin Aug. 12, with the Final set for Aug. 23 at the Estadio da Luz. Read more here.
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WNBA’s latest developments:
- The WNBA will resume play next month in Florida with a 22-game season and a full playoff schedule at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the league announced Monday. Players who opt into the 2020 season will receive their full salaries, assuming the league is able to complete both the regular and postseason. Read more here.
- The WNBA announced it would be postponing training camp and the 2020 season, which was supposed to begin on May 15. The WNBA draft occurred on schedule on April 17, and Sabrina Ionescu was selected with the No. 1 overall pick by the New York Liberty. The WNBA paid tribute to Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli, naming them honorary draft picks.
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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
What has happened in international baseball:
- During a recent game against the Rakuten Eagles, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks employed 20 dancing robots to liven things up. The two kinds of robots, SoftBank’s humanoid robot ‘Pepper’ and others on four legs, engaged in a choreographed dance to the team’s fight song. Read more here.
- The Mexican Baseball League has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 season, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). The league’s clubs earn the majority of their revenues from gate sales and in-person purchases. Sporting events throughout Mexico currently can only occur behind closed doors and without spectators. The season was scheduled to start Aug. 7. Read more here.
- Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News reports that KBO fans could be in the seats within days. The plan is to open at approximately 30 percent capacity, with careful precautions in place to limit the potential for coronavirus transmission. Read more here.
- While the U.S. is experiencing a massive uptick in COVID-19 cases, the same can’t be said for South Korea. As such, the Korea Baseball Organization is preparing guidelines to gradually admit fans back into parks, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. There will be social distancing rules and other safety rules in place. Read more here.
- Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times revealed two players on the Yomiuri Giants have tested positive for COVID-19. Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball resumed exhibition play this week as it prepares for its new June 19 start date. Read more here.
- Although Japanese fans can’t attend games, the league has found a way to help them connect with their teams. Jack Tarrant of Reuters reported Nippon is developing an app called the Remote Cheerer, which will let fans root for their teams. Tarrant explains fans’ reactions will “reverberate around the stadium in real time, transmitted by giant loudspeakers.” It’s a creative approach that will also let players know their fans are thinking of them. Read more here.
- Another overseas league will start soon, as Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan has set June 19 as its Opening Day. The league was supposed to start in March. Read more here.
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esports carries on:
- Esports’ popularity has experienced an uptick on both sides of the remote, as CNBC’s Bob Woods reported on May 19 that streaming website Twitch experienced a “23% surge in viewership in March,” coinciding with the time frame when much of the country started to stay home.
- While the pandemic is having a negative effect on the sports world, it’s been business as usual for esports and gaming. Participants can easily play while maintaining social distancing guidelines since gaming takes place online. In fact, esports has been flourishing. Texas A&M head esports coach Travis Yang told KSAT.com that there has been a “noticeable increase” in gamers and tournaments as people were forced to stay at home.
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Most recent developments among other sports:
- The 2020 Mexico City Marathon announced that the race scheduled for Aug. 30 is canceled. According to Mexico News Daily, the event drew roughly 30,000 runners last year. Read more here.
- The Indianapolis 500, set for Aug. 23, became the latest American sporting event to welcome fans amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles confirmed the news, stating, “We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50 percent of venue capacity.” Per Shanna McCarriston of CBS Sports, Indianapolis Motor Speedway carries a capacity of around 235,000. The official announcement also explained that individuals who do not wish to attend, such as those considered high-risk, will receive credits. Safety items such as masks and hand sanitizer will be distributed to all race attendees. Read more here.
- The world’s largest marathon in New York City has officially been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Jackie Salo of the New York Post. The five-borough race, which hosts more than 50,000 runners from across the globe, would’ve celebrated its 50th anniversary on Nov. 1. It is now set to take place on Nov. 7, 2021. Read more here.
- The Haspa Marathon Hamburg, which was postponed from April, is set to occur on Sept. 13. The race is expecting 10,000 to 14,000 runners. However, Americans might not be among thm. Action Network’s Darren Rovell reported that runners from “higher-risk COVID areas” will not be allowed to participate. A higher-risk area could include the United States. Read more here.
- Approximately 20,000 rugby fans in New Zealand packed the stands to watch the Otago Highlanders take on the Waikato Chiefs in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. New Zealand lifted nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions earlier in the week, as no new cases have been reported for more than 20 days and the death toll is at just 22 in the country since the pandemic started. Read more here.
- The Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 20 but postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, was canceled and converted into a virtual experience. It’s the first time in 124 years the Marathon won’t run. Read more here.