👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,816 (7 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The battle over the future of professional women's hockey is heating up, with the NWHL expanding to Toronto and the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) continuing its boycott in hopes that a new league emerges.
Meet the NWHL: The U.S.-based league was established in 2015, and when the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) shut down last year after 12 seasons, the NWHL became the only women's pro hockey league in North America.
Meet the PWHPA: After the CWHL shut down last May, roughly 175 women's players — including some of the sport's biggest names — announced that they would forego participation in any North American league "until we get the resources professional hockey demands and deserves."
The big picture: Four of the NWHL's six teams have partnerships with NHL teams, but the NWHL ultimately believes that a women's professional hockey league "should be built from the ground to stand on its own."
The bottom line: "It's hard to ignore 200 athletes forgoing the primes of their careers because they believe it's what's best for their sport. But if a new league doesn't emerge soon, the PWHPA may see many of its players defect and return to the NWHL," Just Women's Sports founder Haley Rosen tells Axios.
👀 Coming tomorrow: Examining the "WNBA model" (and dispelling some myths)
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, England — The proposed $370 million takeover of Newcastle United by a consortium largely financed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund has attracted its fair share of controversy.
MUNICH, Germany — Bayern Munich and other Bundesliga clubs have been practicing for nearly a month and the league hopes to resume play — in empty stadiums — as early as May 8, pending government approval.
LISBON, Portugal — Rui Pinto, the hacker who published soccer's darkest secrets, is scheduled to stand trial in Lisbon this summer. The judge overseeing his case is a supporter of Benfica, Portugal's biggest soccer club — and one of the clubs Pinto exposed. Conflict of interest?
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, finance and business news websites have seen a 42% increase in web traffic compared to the same time last year, while sports news websites are down 22%.
Photo: Jim Steffens/Getty Images
On Saturday evening in South Dakota, IMCA Racing treated us to Open Wheel Nationals — a real, live sporting event and a sight for sore eyes, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
Why it matters: With sports mostly on pause since mid-March, this small, dirt track event in North Sioux City offered a potential blueprint for successfully restarting sporting events across the country.
The state of play: There have been just seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Park Jefferson International Speedway's county, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem never issued a stay-at-home order, making the circumstances for this event favorable compared to other parts of the country.
"I can't cover [iRacing] events the same way as real races anymore. It makes me feel a bit guilty to say that, because a lot of people have worked hard to make iRacing on television a suitable replacement for actual racing ... but after four of these things ... I'm sorry. I just can't do it."— Jeff Gluck, The Athletic
🎥 Highlights: Races lasted just a few minutes due to the short track, and were action-packed and highly entertaining.
Photo: S&G/PA Images via Getty Images
97 years ago today, the original Wembley Stadium opened at Wembley Park in London to host the 1923 FA Cup Final (Bolton Wanderers 2, West Ham United 0).
"As a player, my biggest regret is that I have never played in the cathedral of football: Wembley Stadium, in London."— 73-year-old Pele in 2014
The backdrop: Wembley was originally constructed as the centerpiece of the British Empire Exhibition, a post-WWI display intended as a reminder of the British Empire's standing on the world stage.
"The White Horse Final": The stadium, already boasting an enormous capacity of 127,000, was completely overrun with excited fans who'd flocked to the brand new grounds.
🎥 Watch: Footage from the White Horse Final (YouTube)
🏀 Michael Jordan's top 23 commercials, remembered and ranked (Mark Selig, WashPost)
"If a coach could create the perfect basketball player in a lab, he might look like Michael Jordan. And then the advertising executives trying to create the perfect pitchman in the lab next door would ask to borrow the formula."
🏈 A blocker moves to the pandemic's front line (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, SI)
"Less than three months after helping the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory as their starting right guard, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is putting his doctorate in medicine to use: fighting the coronavirus outbreak at a longterm care facility in Quebec."
🏎 The secret life of Floyd Lippencott Jr. (John M. Glionna, SB Nation)
"For five long years, between 1962 and 1967, [Bob] Muravez protected perhaps the most closely-guarded mystery in modern sports: An alter-ego who took full credit for his thriving racing career."
Schleuderball originated in Northwest Germany and is now played at a handful of universities and high schools in the U.S. thanks to a former German professor at the University of Kansas introducing it to his students years ago.
How to play: Two teams of 2-8 players attempt to throw the "Schleuderball," a three-pound leather ball with an attached strap, into the opponent's end zone.
If the ball is caught by the defensive team, the player who caught it can throw the ball forward without using the strap. This throw is called a "shock."
How to win: Teams alternate schleuders and shocks until one team gets the ball to land inbounds beyond the opponent's goal line. That counts as a goal, and whoever has the most goals at the end (typically two halves of fixed times) wins.
🎥 Watch: Schleuderball (YouTube)
Answer at the bottom.
Darryl P. (Vancouver) writes:
"Prior to 2010, Canada had hosted the Olympics twice (1976 in Montreal and 1988 in Calgary) without winning a single gold medal. So there was a feeling heading into Vancouver that this was the year we'd broke through.
"We finally did win that first gold in Men's Freestyle Skiing moguls, with Alexandre Bilodeau putting down an amazing run one night in Whistler. I have such a distinct memory of that moment — the smile he flashed at the top of the course, the emotion felt across Canada when he won.
"But the extreme 'sports, man' moment came when Alexandre went into the crowd to hug his older brother Frédéric, who suffers from cerebral palsy and could not have been more excited. Alexandre became a national hero and dedicated the medal to Frédéric, who he says is his."
✍️ 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 all month.
Kendall "The NWHL and WNHL should both exist just to confuse everyone" Baker
Trivia answer: Giants (2010, 2012, 2014); Cardinals (2011); Red Sox (2013 and 2018); Royals (2015); Cubs (2016); Astros (2017); Nationals (2019)