Jun 10, 2020

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 503 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: The coming collegiate collision

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

College athletes are facing unprecedented pressure and expectations as universities bring them back to campus during COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s one thing when “stick to sports” gets thrown around at pro athletes, but a cohort of college kids coming off a summer of activism amid the Black Lives Matter movement will be forced to navigate the tricky combination of sports, the pandemic and a new role as social justice warrior, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.

  • Empowered by social media, student-athletes who’d previously been unable or unwilling to speak out have already begun leading the charge toward effecting meaningful change.
  • Backed by a public that increasingly supports Black Lives Matter and teammates that stand behind them in solidarity, athletes will only gain confidence as they continue to make their voices heard.
  • Yes, but: All of that momentum is at the whim of the coronavirus, which could throw the country back into a shutdown with little warning.

The big picture: There are over 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, and those with the biggest platforms and loudest voices are the most likely to be back in action when school starts up.

  • College football players have already been the most outspoken (at Auburn and Missouri, to name two prime examples), and they number over 73,000.
  • Basketball players, both men and women, meanwhile, are about 35,000 strong, and though their season begins in November, practices and preseason will ensure they’re on the courts soon after the semester begins.  

Between the lines: Most recently, student-athletes took a huge step forward in their decades-long fight for compensation regarding their name, image and likeness, which is likely to begin in the 2021–22 season.

The bottom line: The increased control athletes are wresting away from their institutions, paired with some expected fan outrage over a season in peril and athletes who refuse to "stick to sports," could take the sports culture wars to a whole new level.

2. Pic du jour

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks to a House Judiciary Committee hearing about policing practices and law enforcement accountability.

3. Catch up quick
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo addresses the media. Photo: Jim Mone/AP
  1. The Minneapolis Police Department is withdrawing from police union contract negotiations as a first step to reforming the agency, Chief Medaria Arradondo said today.
  2. The Fed expects the economy will shrink by 6.5% this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, before growing 5% next year. Go deeper.
  3. United Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to ask all passengers to complete a health self-assessment during the check-in process amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  4. President Trump will "not even consider" renaming the 10 U.S. military bases that are named after Confederate leaders. Go deeper.
  5. Texas coronavirus hospitalizations hit a new high today, more than a month after the end of the state's stay-at-home order. Go deeper.
4. 1 🐑 thing

Worthy of your time: "Three miles off the coast of Maine, in a remote area northeast of Acadia National Park, lies a cluster of islands ... populated only by sheep," writes Galen Koch and Greta Rybus of the New York Times.

  • Flashback: "Maine was once a land of shepherds. Its islands and coastal communities were dotted with the fleeced bodies of sheep, its shrubs and trees grazed into oblivion. Historical photos show wide expanses of pasture that have now become thick with forests and houses."

Go deeper for amazing photos.