👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,563 (6 minutes).
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The NCAA Board of Governors announced Wednesday that it would support rule changes allowing athletes to earn money from the use of their names, images and likenesses.
Yes, but: Don't expect a free market for student-athletes just yet. While the NCAA cleared the way to support third-party endorsements and other money-making opportunities, many questions remain.
Between the lines: The current plan wouldn't allow for group licensing (i.e. how EA Sports gets to use NFL players in "Madden"), and athletes would be forbidden from wearing school logos while doing endorsements, which means "NCAA Football" isn’t coming back anytime soon.
The backdrop: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law last September that allowed the state's college athletes to accept endorsement deals by 2023, upending the decades-long precedent set by the NCAA.
What to watch: The NCAA plans to ask Congress to back a federal law that would preempt state-by-state action on this issue, but Sen. Nancy Skinner, who wrote the California bill, is urging states to press forward.
"Pressure from states and the public will help ensure the NCAA does the right thing — and crosses the finish line to fully give college athletes the same rights that all other Americans enjoy."
The bottom line: The NCAA has taken the unprecedented step of allowing NIL compensation, but it has done so in a very NCAA way that will require layers of oversight and be nearly impossible to enforce.
Illustratio: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has joined a growing group of critics in calling on cable and satellite TV providers to rebate Pay-TV fees to consumers, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.
Why it matters: Her argument is that consumers shouldn't have to pay the same amount for cable and satellite packages, which include expensive sports networks, when those sports networks aren't carrying any live sports.
What she's saying: In letters to seven of the largest Pay-TV providers in the U.S., James has requested that the companies "immediately prepare and provide plans to the attorney general's office for how they will provide financial relief to consumers until live sports programming is resumed."
"At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing."— New York AG Letitia James
The state of play: James' statement has elevated the fight between cable/satellite carriers and sports networks over whether networks should be able to demand the same distribution rights fees for less live sports programming.
By the numbers: The average monthly cable or satellite package in the U.S. is roughly $100, with sports accounting for roughly 20% of that fee.
Our thought bubble, via Kendall: When people pay their monthly TV bills, their money goes to distributors, like AT&T, which in turn pay networks, like ESPN, which in turn pay sports leagues for broadcast rights.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Amazon and the NFL have signed a new, three-year deal to stream 11 Thursday Night Football games each year on Prime Video and Twitch, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
Why it matters: The deal also includes exclusive rights for one Saturday game each season, signaling a potential sea change in the landscape of sports viewership at large.
By the numbers: In 2017, Amazon paid the NFL $50 million to stream 10 TNF games; in 2018, they renewed their deal for two years at $65 million per season.
Between the lines: Netflix, with its 182 million subscribers, is still king, but Prime Video isn't far behind with 150 million. And the way Amazon grows that base (passively opting annual Prime subscribers into Prime Video) makes them a particularly worthy contender.
The bottom line: There hasn't been a streaming-only NFL game since Yahoo dove into this pool with 2017's London game, so the annual "Amazon game" will be picked through with a fine-toothed comb as cord-cutting continues to grow and traditional network broadcasts are no longer the obvious choice for the NFL.
NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan — There is only one basketball league on the planet still operating, and the last game of the season just concluded, with Taiwan Beer beating the Yulon Luxgen Dinos in Game 6 of the SBL Finals to win their fifth championship.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Fans watch a game from outside a stadium during the second leg semifinal match between Managua FC and Deportivo Walter Ferretti.
PAKENHAM, Australia — The horses are still racing down under.
POTOMAC, Maryland — Olympic hopeful Phoebe Bacon trains with her brother at a family friend's indoor 15-meter pool.
BOCHUM, Germany — F3 driver Lirim Zendeli trains on a race simulator in a garage.
SYDNEY, Australia — Two-time Olympic medalist Jess Fox trains inside her kayak at her home swimming pool.
81 years ago today, Yankees legend Lou Gehrig played in his 2,130th consecutive game, a 3-2 loss to the Washington Senators.
By the numbers: Gehrig didn't only play every day; he was arguably one of the 10 or 15 greatest players of all time.
The bottom line: For as decorated and accomplished a player as he was, he might be even more well known for the "Luckiest Man" speech he gave at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, just a few months after his retirement.
🎙 Go deeper: The full text of his speech (Baseball HOF)
Bo-taoshi is a Japanese capture-the-flag-like game, where two teams compete for control of a single large pole.
🎥 Go deeper: See Bo-taoshi in action (YouTube)
25 quarterbacks have been drafted 1st overall in the common draft era (since 1967), but only three have gone on to win both an NFL MVP and a Super Bowl.
Answer at the bottom.
Taylor K. (Marietta, Georgia) writes:
"Back in 2011, I was a competitive track and field athlete competing in the two-mile race for our county junior championship. A few days before the race, my Granny, who was my biggest supporter and a constant presence in the stands, passed away from cancer.
"As I was rounding the track on race day, heading into the halfway point, I heard the cheers from the crowd and felt a lift in my legs. I left the group of runners competing for second-place and started chasing after the leader who had pulled away.
"I never caught him and finished in second place. But my time was 10:12 — 20 seconds better than my previous best — and my second-mile split was almost identical to my first mile.
"I know that my Granny is with me everyday since she passed, but on that day it felt like she reached down and gave me an extra boost. Hours later, my younger brother scored five goals in his lacrosse game — more than his season total."
✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or an example of sports having a positive impact on your life? If you'd like to share, simply reply to this email. We'll be telling your stories until they run out.
Kendall "Would wear that Amazon football helmet" Baker
Trivia answer: John Elway, Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw