👋 Good morning! At the bottom of every newsletter this week, you'll find our "Top 50 Sports Movies" countdown, complete with links to iconic scenes and directions on where to stream (if available). We begin today with Nos. 50–41.
Today's word count: 1,678 words (6 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The International Olympic Committee acknowledged for the first time yesterday that it may have to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games — an outcome that once felt impossible but now, amid mounting external pressure, feels inevitable.
Driving the news:
Between the lines: Most of the concern surrounding the Olympics has been about the safety of the event, itself, which would see thousands of athletes live in close quarters for weeks before flying back to their home countries.
The bottom line: Since the first modern Olympics in 1896, the Games have been canceled three times because of world wars (1916, 1940, 1944) but never postponed. That seems destined to change in the coming weeks or even days.
Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
FS1 broadcast a NASCAR race yesterday, and a lot of things felt familiar, from the pre-race prayer and national anthem to camera shots of the leaders and a racetrack lined with billboards.
The winner: Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. off the final corner to win the race at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Equipment: Truck Series driver Ty Majeski, ranked one of the best iRacers in the world, competed from a computer propped on a wooden desk with a steering wheel attached, while Hamlin raced barefoot in a $40,000 rig.
The big picture: With "real" sports on hiatus, virtual sports are having a moment, as leagues and media partners get creative in how to reach fans.
Yes, but: While NBA 2K is super realistic (LeBron plays it like its "real basketball" and uses it to test out lineups) and FIFA, NHL and OOTP offer believable simulations, virtual racing comes closer to the real thing than any other sport.
The bottom line: NASCAR, which hopes to do this every week until racing returns, has a golden opportunity to engage sports fans with what very well might be the closest thing to real sports that we have for the foreseeable future.
California passed a bill in September that will allow college athletes in the state to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) starting on Jan. 1, 2023.
Meanwhile, in Florida, the state's House of Representatives and Senate have both approved an NIL bill that would go into effect 18 months earlier (July 1, 2021).
The backdrop: The NCAA is fearful that state-by-state action will lead to competitive unbalance and regulatory chaos and is hoping to work with Congress on passing national legislation that would supersede any state laws. But the coronavirus has stalled all progress on that front.
National championship: No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 1 Baylor — a matchup I would have thoroughly enjoyed if it had happened in real life. Two deep teams that play solid defense and rarely turn the ball over.
Members of Craddockstown Golf Club in Kildare, Ireland, enjoy a round of golf while practicing social distancing. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images
People around the world are stuck indoors without gyms to visit or recreational sports to participate in, which has made outdoor exercise difficult.
Yes, but: Not all courses have remained open, and those that have stayed open are asking players to do things a bit differently.
13 years ago today, Kobe Bryant dropped 50 on the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, (seeing “NOK” on the chyron will never not be weird).
The big picture: Kobe led the league in scoring that year for the second and final time and won his only MVP the following season, which was probably at least one shy of how many he should have taken home during his career.
P.S. ... Two nights later, he failed to extend his streak to five games when he managed just ... 43 points. Legend.
DUBLIN, Ireland — Professional mountain bike rider, Greg Callahan, trains near his home following the postponement of the opening two rounds of the Enduro World Series, in Columbia and Chile.
DORTMUND, Germany — With training facilities closed, German rower Johannes Weissenfeld trains on the balcony of his apartment.
ADELAIDE, Australia — Emma Adams during the Australia Olympic Games 50 meter Three Position Rifle competition.
Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images
Joe Flacco, who was waived by the Broncos on Thursday, has started Week 1 in all 12 seasons of his career (2008–present).
Answer at the bottom.
This week, our resident film buff Jeff Tracy will be unveiling his Top 50 sports movies, beginning today with Nos. 50–41.
50. Bend It Like Beckham (2002) A charming story about teenage angst and cultural identity. Plus, Keira Knightley's first starring role. What's not to like?
49. The Longest Yard (1974) The remake is great, but it can't touch prime Burt Reynolds as disgraced QB Paul Crewe in one of the earliest entries into the sports movie Hall of Fame.
48. Rush (2013) Ron Howard brings to life the Formula One rivalry between brash Brit James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and calculating Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl).
47. Warrior (2011) The characters are honest, the acting is terrific and the fight scenes are brutal, elevating it above most "underdog fighter" movies.
46. Million Dollar Baby (2004) This movie cleaned up at the Oscars, winning four awards including Best Picture. I'm still angry I couldn't reach through the screen to move that stool, though.
45. Varsity Blues (1999) Toxic masculinity flows as freely as Billy Bob's maple syrup in this ode to Texas high school football, but Jonathan Moxon (James van der Beek) is the quiet hero we need in this re-watchable classic.
44. BASEketball (1998) It hasn't aged the best, but the South Park creators' lone project that they neither wrote, directed, nor produced is still wildly entertaining.
43. Blue Crush (2002) Yes, really. Not only is the surfing action epic — it's quite realistic, too.
42. Little Giants (1994) Becky "Icebox" O'Shea's decision to drop the pompoms and become the person she was born to be is a storyline worth revisiting over and over again.
41. Bring it On (2000) Gabrielle Union's turn as rival cheerleader Isis is worth the price of admission alone. This movie gets at least eight out of 10 spirit fingers.
Coming tomorrow: 40–31
David Paro, an Axios Sports reader and part-time songwriter, has written a parody song called "The Week Our Sports World Died" to the tune of Don McLean's epic anthem, "American Pie."
So bye, bye to all sports worldwide
Watching Netflix, Prime and Hulu, but nothing is live
Them good old games they just don't give the same high
Singing this would be the week that sports died
This would be the week that sports died.
Kendall "See you on the links" Baker
Trivia answer: Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning