👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,647 words (7 minutes).
👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,647 words (7 minutes).
The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan on Tuesday, formally announcing that 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament in two hub cities, if and when medically cleared.
Why it matters: Hockey is the first major North American sports league to sketch out these plans in such detail, and it's also the first one to officially pull the plug on its regular season, which will trigger ticket refunds.
Locations: Under the proposal, games will be played in two "hub cities," with one city hosting the 12 Eastern Conference teams and the other hosting the 12 Western Conference teams. Potential hosts:
What they're saying: The players union said it agreed with the league on the announced plans but made it clear that changes could be made before play is resumed, including to health and safety protocols.
"If they need to be amended over time, we will amend them. This is a living document, and we have to make sure that logistically, we can actually implement the steps."— Donald Fehr, NHLPA executive director
🎥 Watch: Gary Bettman's announcement (YouTube)
The NCAA's proposed rule change that would allow student athletes to earn money off their name, image and likeness (NIL) should result in major financial opportunities, most notably on social media, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
The state of play: I spoke with Blake Lawrence, CEO of Opendorse — a social publishing platform that helps athletes build their brands — to get a better understanding of the landscape, and requested earnings estimates for a sample of 12 student athletes (see above).
Between the lines: College gymnastics offers a unique wrinkle given that gymnasts tend to peak in their teens and, in some cases, achieve national or even global stardom years before they arrive on campus.
The bottom line: College students who don't play sports have complete freedom to earn money as influencers, so the new NIL rules would merely allow athletes to do the same — though there are clear risks in opening up the multi-billion dollar influencer marketing industry to amateur athletes.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
MLB presented its economic plan for a shortened season to the players' union on Tuesday, and it was reportedly not received well, with the MLBPA calling it "extremely disappointing."
By the numbers: Under the plan, players would receive a percentage of their prorated salaries, with the highest-paid players taking the biggest salary cuts. What those cuts would look like, per ESPN's Jeff Passan:
Meanwhile, in Oakland ... The Athletics informed their minor leaguers that they will not continue to pay them after May 31, according to an email obtained by SI. This means the next paycheck these players receive will come next April.
First-place Bayern Munich defeated second-place Borussia Dortmund, 1-0, yesterday, giving them a seven-point lead atop the Bundesliga standings with six games remaining. The club's 30th league title is now a near certainty.
An aerial view of an empty Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund.
🎥 Go deeper: Full match highlights
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Amazon is looking to invest in localized podcast content, sources tell Axios' Sara Fischer. Sports content is top of mind as the company plans to buy up more TV rights and have adjacent audio content for users.
The state of play: Amazon's foray in podcasting comes as other Big Tech giants like Spotify and Apple have increased their investments in the space.
The big picture: More than a third of Americans ages 12+ listen to podcasts monthly, per Edison's latest Infinite Dial survey. But podcast ad revenue is still tiny compared to other mediums because monetization is so decentralized, as Stratechery's Ben Thompson notes.
We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 MLB teams. Note: Rosters based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me at email@example.com.
The infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal, in which the White Sox "allegedly" threw the 1919 World Series in a gambling scheme, was an ugly mark on a great game, but it sure had some interesting consequences. An Illinois judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis, whose name now adorns the MVP trophy, became the commissioner in the hopes of cleaning up the game. Plus, without the Black Sox we'd be robbed of gems like "Eight Men Out" and "Field of Dreams."
On the mound: SP Ed Walsh* (65.9)
Huge thanks to Tom Stone, whose book 'Now Taking the Field: Baseball's All-Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises,' provided the inspiration for these rosters.
52 years ago today, NFL legend George Halas announced his retirement.
The man: Halas practically bled Chicago. He was born there in 1895, attended the University of Illinois, founded and coached the Bears for 40 years and died there in 1983.
The player and coach: In 1920, Halas was a player-coach for the Decatur Staleys and represented them at the meeting in Canton, Ohio where the American Professional Football Association (AFPA) was born.
The bottom line: Every fall Sunday, when you kick back on the couch for 10 hours of uninterrupted bliss, don't forget to thank the man lovingly known as "Papa Bear."
⚾️ How baseball players became celebrities (Louis Menand, The New Yorker)
"It's no coincidence that the decade in which this entertainment-media-merchandising combine developed is known as the Golden Age of American sports. ... People like [Babe] Ruth dominated their sports. They set records. And the combine loves records."
🏈 The Kentucky football coach and player who fought cancer together (Alex Scarborough, ESPN)
"Time is going to come to an end at some point for all of us. I don't know that I ever thought about it that much, to be honest with you, until I had to face this. ... It's a blessing to have the day."
📊 How stats are helping Paralympic teams find an edge (John Loeppky, FiveThirtyEight)
"While advanced metrics like usage rate and player efficiency rating are commonplace for even the slightest of data-obsessed NBA fans, the use of advanced statistics in wheelchair sports is only relatively recent."
Jeff writes: Welcome to the Twisty Puzzle Cup — the only* multi-week, speedcube tournament hosted on Twitch during the coronavirus pandemic (*that we know of).
P.S. ... If any of you are in fact expert speedcubers, you'd better send us a video of your skills. I can't promise we'll share it, but let's be honest, we probably will.
The Miami Dolphins are converting Hard Rock Stadium into a drive-in movie theater that can accommodate 230 cars.
Answer at the bottom.
Billy Dee Williams and James Caan on the set of "Brian's Song." Photo: ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images
Matt G. (Washington, D.C.) writes:
"My most meaningful sports memory involves the iconic, made-for-TV football movie, 'Brian's Song.'
"The film premiered on Nov. 30, 1971 and was a sensation — the ultimate tearjerker. Hardened fans hid their sniffles as they witnessed superstar Gale Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams) lose his friend, Brian Piccolo (James Caan), to cancer.
"Many sports fans of a certain age can recite the iconic last line of Sayers' speech from memory: 'I love Brian Piccolo, and I'd like all of you to love him, too. And tonight, when you hit your knees, please ask God to love him.'
"I had been diagnosed with cancer as a 10-year-old, and watched the movie with my father 10 months after my last treatment. As we both hid our man tears, I turned to him and said, 'that's what I had, right?' It was the first time my parents and I ever talked about my having 'cancer.'
"Back in the day, it was not unusual to think that if you even said the word, the whole neighborhood would be struck down. I know — not very enlightened and hard to believe in today's world.
"50 years later, I spend my free time running a charity called Tracy's Kids that helps thousands of children with cancer handle the emotional toll imposed by the disease and its treatment.
"A few years ago, I got the chance to tell Brian's widow, Joy, and one of their daughters about the impact Brian had on my life. They said they hear that sentiment a lot, and that they feel blessed by his memory and legacy."
✍️ 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.