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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sports are on pause, and there's no timetable for their return. In the interim, leagues, teams and athletes are getting creative with ways to keep fans engaged.

The latest: A "quarantined reality show basketball tournament," courtesy of the BIG3, the upstart 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and his longtime business partner Jeff Kwatinetz.

Driving the news: The BIG3 has joined forces with Endemol — producers of popular reality shows like "Big Brother" and "Biggest Loser" — to create a hybrid reality show and preseason tournament, starring 16 quarantined players.

  • The show is tentatively titled "Big Brother: BIG3" and is expected to debut the first week of May. If things go well, it could become an annual event for the league, which still plans to open its fourth season on June 20 in Memphis.

How it will work: After receiving a negative test result, 16 players and a set number of referees will be quarantined in a Los Angeles-area home where they will live together and compete in a three-week tournament.

  • The daily lives of the players and officials will be captured on camera and used to create drama and build narratives around the on-court action.
  • But the BIG3 "won't do anything that takes away from the credibility of the games themselves," Kwatinetz says. "It will be real competition. You will see it live."

The big picture: While leagues all around the world wait until it's safe to return to sports, the BIG3 is creating the safe conditions themselves. Whether that's admirable, smart, opportunistic or irresponsible — or some combination of the four — is a question worth asking. Here's Kwatinetz's answer:

"Ice Cube and I, we entertain. That's what we do. It's certainly not as important as what doctors or others do, but that's our contribution to society. So, if we can keep people healthy and safe and also give them things that make them happy — like sports and entertainment — we're going to do it."
— Jeff Kwatinetz, BIG3 co-founder

What to watch ... As the NBA weighs how to resume play in a safe and timely manner, it's considering its own version of quarantine basketball.

  • One of the ideas that has been floated is to use a "sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof," per ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
  • "Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment."

Go deeper: NASCAR leads the virtual sports charge amid coronavirus outbreak

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

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2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.