๐Ÿ‘‹ Good morning! Let's sports.

Today's word count: 1,451 words (5 minutes).

1 big thing: ๐Ÿšซ Sports media without sports

Illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios

In the Era of No Sports, media publications, TV networks and leagues are scrambling to find alternatives to fill the void โ€” and in some cases, redeploying staff to work on non-sports coverage.


  • The Washington Post has redirected some of its sports staff to help with non-sports coverage and, starting this Saturday, the newspaper's daily Sports section will move inside the Style section, per an internal memo (Sunday Sports will continue to stand on its own).
  • The New York Times has "redeployed a handful of reporters and editors to other desks and assignments to meet the unprecedented challenge of this story," sports editor Randy Archibold told me in an email.
  • The Action Network, which covers sports betting, has instructed its staff to focus on futures (i.e. how Tom Brady's arrival impacts the Bucs' Super Bowl odds) and pivot to other types of content, like politics.

League-owned apps/networks:

  • NFL Game Pass, which offers replays of past regular and postseason games and episodes of shows like "Hard Knocks," "Mic'd Up," and "A Football Life," is available for free starting today and running through May 31.
  • NBA League Pass, which offers replays of every game from the 2019-20 season plus an "expansive archive" of classic games and content, will also be made available for free.
  • MLB Network and NHL Network are centering their coverage around classic games or moments.

ESPN: Q&A with EVP of programming, Burke Magnus:

  • On showing classic games: "Re-airing full-game presentations is not a right that we or other media companies typically have at our disposal at all times. ... We are working with the leagues themselves to free up the possibility to show encore presentations and discussing how we can present them."
  • On moving up the debut of the MJ doc: "Any original content project that we can conceivably move up, we are obviously considering that, [but] the reality is that the production of ['The Last Dance'] has not yet been completed, so we are limited there at the moment."

What to watch: A subplot of the Netflix movie "High Flying Bird" involves locked-out NBA players streaming games they play in a gym. Could the real-life NBA try something similar? Sounds like Adam Silver is open to the idea...

"Is there a protocol where [players] can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another? ... Maybe it's for a giant fundraiser ... Because people are stuck at home, and I think they need a diversion. They need to be entertained."
โ€” Adam Silver, via SportsCenter
2. ๐Ÿ† Simulation Madness: Top of the bracket

We're simulating the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament using ESPN's Joe Lunardi's final projected bracket and a simulation engine.

Bracket: Axios Visuals

๐Ÿšจ = lower seed won

Midwest (Indianapolis)
  • Kansas 82, North Texas 52: Devon Dotson, KU (35 pts, 12-16 FG); Umoja Gibson, UNT (12 pts, 4 ast)
  • Duke 98, Arizona State 79: Vernon Carey Jr., DUKE (25 pts, 14 reb); Alonzo Verge Jr., ASU (26 pts)

What's next: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Duke (Lucas Oil Stadium)

West (Los Angeles)
  • Gonzaga 85, Oregon 81: Filip Petruลกev, GONZ (23 pts, 10-13 FG); Shakur Juiston, ORE (15 pts, 9 reb)
  • ๐Ÿšจ Seton Hall 73, San Diego State 68: Myles Powell, SHU (22 pts, 7 reb); Malachi Flynn, SDSU (18 pts, 6 ast)

What's next: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 Seton Hall (Staples Center)

3. ๐Ÿ† Simulation Madness: Bottom of the bracket

We're simulating the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament using ESPN's Joe Lunardi's final projected bracket and a simulation engine.

Bracket: Axios Visuals

๐Ÿšจ = lower seed won

East (New York)
  • ๐Ÿšจ Maryland 77, Dayton 76: Jalen Smith, MD (25 pts, 14 reb); Obi Toppin, DAY (16 pts, 8 reb)
  • Florida State 80, Penn State 70: Myles Dread, FSU (19 pts, 5-6 3PT); Devin Vassell, PSU (21 pts, 5-8 3PT)

What's next: No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 2 FSU (Madison Square Garden)

South (Houston)
  • Baylor 69, Ohio State 58: Jared Butler, BAY (21 pts, 7 reb); Kaleb Wesson, OSU (12 pts, 10 reb)
  • Illinois 71, Cincinnati 64: Kofi Cockburn, ILL (18 pts, 12 reb); Tre Scott, CIN (20 pts, 14 reb)

What's next: No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 7 Illinois (Toyota Center)

4. ๐Ÿšจ Airline and gaming hit hard by coronavirus
Reproduced from Moody's Investors Service; Chart: Axios Visuals

The gaming industry has joined the airline industry and others in asking Congress for emergency financial help as casinos, sports betting operators and others gets crushed by the coronavirus.

  • By the numbers: 94% of the country's commercials casinos have closed, which impacts 534,000 employees and risks nearly $59 billion in annual wages, per the American Gaming Association.
5. ๐Ÿ“Š By the numbers
Photo: Lance King/Getty Images
  • โ„๏ธ 9.5 days: Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner and his 10 dogs won the 48th Iditarod, completing the 1,000-mile trek through Alaskan wilderness in just 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds.
  • ๐Ÿ“† 26 years: This is the first time since the 1994 MLB strike where there will be no MLB, NBA, NHL or NFL games for at least seven consecutive days. That year, we went 23 straight days without those sports from Aug. 12 to Sept. 3, with the NFL kicking off the following day.
  • ๐Ÿˆ $64 million: Plenty of NFL free agents have gotten paid and more will sign contracts in the ensuing days, but today's biggest winner might be Rams QB Jared Goff, who will have his $21 million bonus paid while another $43 million of future money becomes fully guaranteed, per Spotrac.
6. ๐Ÿ“ธ Not all sports have stopped
Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia โ€” The 2020 Australian Football League season began as planned a few hours ago with Richmond and Carlton, two longtime rivals, facing off behind closed doors. (The National Rugby League also played a fanless game.)

  • What they're saying: "We embark on this journey with clear instruction from the government that all industry and all parts of society need to keep moving forward," said AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
  • ๐ŸŽฅ Watch: Aussie rules football explained
Photo: Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ISTANBUL โ€” Turkey's top-tier Basketball Super League is one of a handful of leagues still playing games without fans. Multiple players are believed to have declined to play this weekend, including former first-round NBA draft pick Shane Larkin and former Kentucky star Aaron Harrison.

  • What they're saying: "I do not understand why the Turkish League is continuing to play when every other league in the world is either suspended or canceled," Larkin wrote on Twitter.
Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

TOKYO โ€” Several athletes expressed concern following a conference call with Olympic organizers yesterday, saying the IOC sidestepped questions and "seemed not to acknowledge the global health impact of its actions," per NYT.

Speaking of the Olympics being impacted by a global crisis...

7. March 19, 1915: ๐Ÿฅ‡ Olympics canceled amid WWI
Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

105 years ago today, IOC founder and president Pierre de Coubertin informed the Associated Press of his decision to cancel the 1916 Berlin Olympics due to World War I, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.

  • Why it matters: It marked the first time the Olympics were ever canceled. In the century since, they've only been canceled two other times, both due to World War II (1940, 1944).

The backdrop: In June 1913, construction was completed on Berlin's Deutsches Stadion, and 60,000 Germans attended a ceremony to celebrate the first major milestone on their way towards hosting the world.

  • In 1914, when the war broke out, planning continued because there was an assumption that the conflict would be short-lived.
  • But by 1915, as war raged across the continent with no end in sight, de Coubertin finally made the call to cancel the Games.

Fast forward: Over a century later, the Olympics are once again under threat. Fortunately, we're not in the throes of a world war this time around โ€” in fact, it feels quite the opposite, with countries banding together (at least in theory) to fight this common, invisible enemy.

8. The Ocho: ๐Ÿ Marble racing
Source: Jelle's Marble Runs (YouTube)

The global sports outage has presented a unique opportunity for Jelle's Marble Runs and its YouTube-based racing league, "Marbula One."

  • By the numbers: "In just three days, the league has seen its followers on Instagram and Twitter double [and] views on YouTube shoot up by 339%," writes Front Office Sports' Emily Caron.
  • The backdrop: Jelle's Marble Runs began in 2006 and has blossomed into an astonishingly well-oiled machine, with announcers and home tracks for each team.

This week's race: The 2020 Greenstone GP, the fifth race of the 2020 Marbula One season, has 23 turns and is one of the longest tracks on the calendar.

Screenshot: Jelle's Marble Runs (YouTube)

๐ŸŽฅ Watch: 2020 Greenstone Grand Prix (YouTube)

9. ๐Ÿ€ Women's hoops trivia

Photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

South Carolina finished the season ranked No. 1 in the final women's AP poll released Tuesday.

  • Question: Can you name the four other teams that finished in the top 5?
  • Hint: All from separate conferences.

Answer at the bottom.

10. ๐Ÿก Play (responsibly)
Courtesy: Carly Baker

Here's my brother-in-law and nephew playing whiffle ball in their backyard yesterday. It's a beautiful sight to see during these trying times.

  • It also reminded me that I fell in love with sports by playing them as a kid, not following them as a fan.
  • Sure, watching Jason Kidd run the Nets offense turned me into a diehard NBA fan, but shooting hoops in the driveway with my dad or my friends is what made me truly love basketball.

So, whether you have kids or not, get outside (or stay inside) and play. Gyms might be closed and you should avoid large groups, but you can still sweat it out responsibly during a pandemic.

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "All-in on marble racing" Baker

Trivia answer: 2. Oregon, 3. Baylor, 4. Maryland, 5. UConn