👋 Happy Thursday! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,250 (<5 minutes)
Cardinals at Braves, 5pm ET (TBS)
Nationals at Dodgers, 8:30pm ET (TBS)
Tonight: Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (3-1) host Jared Goff and the Rams (3-1) in a battle of NFC West rivals. Kickoff is 8:20pm ET.
🗞 Media: Sports Illustrated's new operator, TheMaven Inc., is planning to lay off more than 40 employees and replace them with contract workers as part of a broader overhaul of the company, WSJ reports (subscription).
💰 Sports betting: FanDuel owner Flutter Entertainment has acquired PokerStars owner Stars Group for roughly $6 billion, creating a sports betting juggernaut in the U.S.
👟 Apparel: On Monday night, legendary track and field coach Alberto Salazar, head of the famed Nike Oregon Project, received a 4-year ban for doping rules violations.
ST. LOUIS — After a 51-season wait, the Blues raised their first Stanley Cup banner (and played "Gloria") ahead of their season opener against the Capitals.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND — Liverpool survived a major scare to record their first Champions League points with a 4-3 win over Red Bull Salzburg. Mo Salah scored the game-winner, his second goal of the game (watch every goal).
OITA, JAPAN — Ahead of their Rugby World Cup match against Canada (which they won easily), the New Zealand All Blacks performed their signature "Haka."
NCAA president Mark Emmert. Photo: Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
With California's Fair Pay to Play Act dominating headlines and lawmakers across the country considering similar bills, it's important to remember that the NCAA makes rules, not laws, and that it has no authority when it comes to actual legislation.
In other words: "It's illegal for an athlete to receive a huge payment from a booster in the same way it's illegal for you to collect $1,000 in Monopoly money when passing go," writes The Ringer's Rodger Sherman.
Go deeper: NCAA's defeat in California shows limits of a besieged juggernaut (NYT)
24 years ago today, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the 1994 slayings of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman — a shocking end to the "Trial of the Century."
According to Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, Jim Brown is "without a doubt" the greatest player in NFL history.
Answer at the bottom.
With the Spikeball Nationals coming up this weekend in Richmond, Va., we're spending the week exploring the popular lawn game/sport.
Spikeball evangelists — from its top-ranked players to the company at the epicenter of its growth — have aspirations beyond it being merely a toy or a lawn game for frat bros.
The big picture: Fighting against that "fratty" image has been a challenge, but Spikeball has slowly but surely entered the mainstream and earned the label of "sport."
💰 The cult of rich-kid sports (Derek Thompson, The Atlantic)
"Researchers found that between 2009 and 2014, more than 40 percent of accepted white students [at Harvard] were ALDC — athletes, legacies, 'dean's list' (meaning related to donors), or the children of faculty. Without such preferences, they said, three-quarters of those white students would have been rejected."
"[Former NFL player] Jeff Hatch spent years telling audiences of his triumph over opioid addiction, to great acclaim. Then as the rehab center he worked at drew national attention, a tortuous backstory of cops, dealers and deception came to light."
⚾️ What the Reds hiring Kyle Boddy means for a changing game (Jeff Passan, ESPN)
"Boddy is a college dropout card shark who taught himself about pitching while working as a network analyst at Microsoft. The path into baseball is no longer necessarily paved through time spent playing the game. 'I will be scouring Twitter,' Boddy said, 'for the next pitching coaches with the Reds.'"
Kendall "SI deserves better" Baker
Trivia answer: Jamaal Charles