👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 2,036 words (8 minutes).
👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 2,036 words (8 minutes).
Ted Leonsis with his 2019 WNBA championship ring. Courtesy: Monumental Sports
The NBA, WNBA and NHL are currently in bubbled environments, each with their own protocols, living arrangements and schedules. One owner has a team in all three.
The state of play: Ted Leonsis is the founder and CEO of Monumental Sports, which owns the NBA's Washington Wizards, the WNBA's Washington Mystics and the NHL's Washington Capitals.
The backdrop: When the NBA and NHL halted play in March, "I took it very seriously because I'm a little bit older and can't afford to get COVID," Leonsis tells me.
Between the lines: The Wizards and Mystics — along with the Wizards' G League affiliate, Capital City Go-Go, and their NBA 2K team, Wizards District Gaming — exist under the Monumental Basketball umbrella.
The big picture: Leonsis is thrilled about the success of the bubble format but says he's holding his breathe "because we're one misstep away." As for the NBA and WNBA player protests, he had this to say:
"Players want to be able to self-express, speak their minds and shine a light on subjects that are meaningful to them. And I think they've done it in a way that's very respectful.
"I believe it's created a greater partnership between the leagues, players and fans. We think we can amplify this moment because everyone is together, and it's our job to provide the platform and keep players healthy."
Photo: James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The slim prospects of a fall college football season have evaporated in a matter of days — but don't tell that to the ACC, SEC and Big 12, who are still trying to do this thing.
Between the lines: For many college towns, Tuesday's announcements mean the prospect of huge economic hits.
What they're saying: Here's The Ringer's Brian Phillips on the unique pain of watching the college football calendar evaporate:
"College football, compared to pro sports and the Olympics, operates within a denser and more complex network of local affiliations, and therefore straddles the line between the super-generalized Sports As a TV Show spectacle of the NFL and the more community-rooted everyday-ness of high school sports.
"For all college football's (many) problems, its loss will send more vibrations down more sensitive cultural threads than the loss of some objectively 'bigger' sports. It has a chance to have more of an impact on how we think about the virus and, perhaps in a subtle way, how we think about one another."
When the pandemic arrived, the sports betting industry funneled bettors toward the few sports that were actually happening (like ping pong).
Yes, but: Sports betting operators and other businesses were still negatively affected, particularly on the user acquisition front. And with college football on the brink, the fall won't deliver the betting volume they hoped.
The industry buzz...
1. The benefits of being young: "For most major stakeholders in the U.S., sports betting was always a 2023 or 2024 story," says Chris Grove, partner at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming. "So the industry appears to be shrugging off any concern about the long-term impact of COVID-19."
2. Online betting push: As a result of the coronavirus, some lawmakers and stakeholders who were on the fence about online sports betting (vs. in-person retail) are now more supportive of it.
3. All eyes on the NFL: March Madness is the biggest betting event in sports, so losing that this year was brutal. The next big "event" is the NFL season.
Coming tomorrow: Today's story was about the business of sports betting. Tomorrow, we'll cover the actual bets being placed — and how the pandemic has changed them.
The sports were very good last night.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Dario Zuparic's first goal of the season gave the Portland Timbers a 2-1 victory over Orlando City in the MLS is Back final, capping a wild month for the league, which played 51 matches in 45 days.
TORONTO — After six hours, five overtimes and a combined 151 shots on goal, the Lightning won an epic Game 1 against the Blue Jackets. Final score: 3-2.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Damian Lillard tied a career-high with 61 points and propelled the Trail Blazers to a 134-131 win over the Mavericks, giving them sole possession of the eighth spot in the West. I love this man.
Playoff race: The final spot in the West will come down to a weekend play-in game between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds, which will be decided tomorrow.
The Champions League quarterfinals begin today in Lisbon, Portugal, with a matchup between Italian sleeper-favorite Atalanta and French giant Paris Saint-Germain (3pm ET, CBS), Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.
The state of play: Rather than the standard two-leg quarterfinal, the pandemic has shifted the format to a single-elimination knockout tournament.
Today's game: Atalanta vs. PSG is a battle of competing philosophies — team chemistry on one side and individual greatness on the other.
Go deeper: The dark fairy tale of Atalanta (NYT)
The Blue Jays and Marlins pregame. Photo: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
84 years ago today, American diver Marjorie Gestring won gold in the three-meter springboard at the Berlin Olympics.
Why it matters: At 13 years, 268 days, she remains the youngest athlete ever to win individual Olympic gold.
What came next: Gestring dominated her event for half a decade, following her gold in Berlin with wins in the 1938, 1939 and 1940 U.S. Nationals.
🎥 Watch: Archival footage (YouTube)
As it turns out, playing soccer while wearing binoculars is extremely difficult and produces hilarious "highlights" (and possibly multiple torn ACLs).
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Serena Williams won her first match in six months on Tuesday at the Top Seed Open, setting up a second-round match against her sister, Venus, on Thursday.
Answer at the bottom.
John F. (Arlington, Va.) writes:
"In 1989, I was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed on the island of Guam during Desert Storm. Nancy Reagan's 'say no to drugs' campaign was running at the time, and spokesmen would travel and champion her cause.
"I grew up near Washington, D.C. and attended Redskins games with my father and grandfather in the 1960s (years later I became a season ticket holder). So when Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann held a clinic as part of the campaign that summer, I couldn't wait to meet him.
"I wore my Air Force uniform and brought along my 10-year-old son, hoping Joe would take a moment to talk to us. He graciously came over and talked to my son Michael and I, then invited us on the field for a picture.
"The clinic ended a few minutes later, and security began escorting people out. But Joe told them, 'Have this sergeant and his son stay behind.'
"He spent the next 30 minutes playing catch with my son, just the two of them. My 41-year-old son cherishes that memory to this day, despite spending his formative years in Texas and becoming a Cowboys fan."
✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or a story about sports having a positive impact on your life? To share, simply reply to this email. We'll be telling your stories until they run out.
Kendall "Hard Knocks is back" Baker
Trivia answer: Venus was born in Lynwood, California, in 1980; Serena was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1981