NHL reports zero positive coronavirus tests at bubble sites

Score another win for leagues placing teams and other personnel inside bubble sites for return-to-play scenarios in North America.

As noted by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the NHL has reported zero positive coronavirus tests within the temporary hubs in Toronto and Edmonton for the 24-team model to crown a Stanley Cup champion amid the pandemic. In total, the league has conducted 7,013 tests since teams entered the bubbles on July 26.

Currently, no family members are allowed to enter either bubble. The NHL and NHL Players’ Association may agree to permit some family members for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, both of which will occur in Edmonton.

The National Women’s Soccer League and Major League Soccer both successfully held tournaments inside isolated sites this summer, while the NBA has housed personnel inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex bubble for the resumption of its season halted on March 11 due to the pandemic.

Major League Baseball, meanwhile, is having teams travel around the country for in-market games. The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals have experienced coronavirus outbreaks since Opening Day on July 23. 

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 8/3/20

Eagles’ Marquise Goodwin opts out of 2020 NFL season

Marquise Goodwin has become the latest player to opt out of the upcoming NFL season, joining a growing list of players who are prioritizing their safety instead of taking the risk in playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodwin was set for his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles, after spending the last three years with the San Francisco 49ers. Goodwin signed a one-year, $1.35 million deal with Philadelphia, which will now be put on hold until next season. Goodwin’s decision, according to Ian Rappoport, was primarily motivated by his family, as his wife gave birth to their daughter earlier this year after suffering multiple miscarriages.

“Source: #Eagles speedy WR Marquise Goodwin plans to opt-out for the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns,” Rappoport tweeted. “He has informed the team, who traded for him during the draft. Goodwin has a 5-month daughter after his wife previously had three miscarriages. Family is the most important.”

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By Blake Harper | Last updated 7/28/20

Rob Manfred said MLB could shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks?

By Zac Wassink  |  Last updated 7/31/20

Commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark on Friday that the league could shut the season down if teams, players and other personnel don’t improve their handling of the coronavirus, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies, who opened the season versus each other last weekend, haven’t played since Sunday after the Marlins experienced a virus outbreak that resulted in at least 18 players testing positive for COVID-19. Cancellations caused by that outbreak affected other clubs and resulted in schedule alterations. 

Friday’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers was called off after the Cardinals returned at least two positive test results. 

Passan added that some players briefed on the situation believe the “season could be shut down as soon as Monday if positive tests jump or if players continue not to strictly abide by the league’s protocols.”

MLB has repeatedly warned players and coaches about following health and safety protocols, such as avoiding unnecessary physical contact while at ballparks. Earlier this week, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggested the Marlins outbreak occurred after an unknown number of Miami players broke MLB guidelines and strayed from the team hotel following an exhibition game versus the Atlanta Braves. 

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Miami Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak up to 18 known cases

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus outbreak impacting members of the Miami Marlins continues to get worse before it gets better.

Wednesday afternoon, ESPN and other outlets reported that the confirmed number of coronavirus cases among Miami’s traveling party rose to 18 after another player returned a positive test. 16 players and two staff members have thus far tested positive.

MLB shut the Marlins down through at least the weekend to keep the uncontrolled virus outbreak within the organization. The Philadelphia Phillies, who hosted Miami over the weekend, won’t play before Saturday, at the earliest, as the team undergoes additional testing and monitoring.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 7/29/20

Raiders owner Mark Davis: If fans can’t attend NFL games, I won’t go

The Las Vegas Raiders are hoping to play in their beautiful new stadium in front of a packed house this year. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, they may not get their wish. On that note, if fans aren’t allowed, or if the only option is to operate with a distanced seating arrangement, owner Mark Davis won’t attend and would rather Allegiant Stadium be completely empty.

Speaking on the subject, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Davis said, “I won’t go if the fans can’t go, and the way it looks right now there won’t be any fans at our games.” 

Taking it a step further, he made it clear he’s all-in or wants no fans at all:

“It’s all or none for me. Either all the fans are going to be in there or none. . . . I can’t tell one fan that they can’t go to the inaugural opening game in a stadium that they helped to build through their PSLs. I won’t tell them that they can’t go but the rest of these guys can . . . and oh, by the way, don’t worry about it because we’ll be able to advertise on your seats.”

It’s easy to understand why Davis would feel this way, and fans probably would agree with his logic.

However, as noted by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Davis might not have a choice in the matter if the league has anything to say about it:

“The league, the union, the state, and/or the city may have something to say about the all-or-nothing approach. With revenue due to take a massive hit as a result of reduced or non-existent attendance, every team should embrace the opportunity to generate as much ticket revenue as possible. Beyond his duty to those who own a piece of the franchise along with him, Davis arguably has a duty to generate as much revenue as he can, for the benefit of Nevada, of Las Vegas, of his 31 fellow owners, and of the players.”

The reason all this is being discussed in the first place is that the United States is currently the world’s coronavirus epicenter. Clark County, where Las Vegas is located in Nevada, has, like many areas around the nation, seen some big increases in positive cases recently.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Jesse Reed | Last updated 7/19/20

Report: NFL wants positive coronavirus test listed as ‘non-football injury’

As negotiations between the NFL and NFL Players Association continue ahead of training camps scheduled to begin on July 28, an injury classification could hold things up and, potentially, cause delays in preparations.

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano confirmed previous reports of the NFLPA wishing to eliminate all preseason games due to concerns regarding the worsening coronavirus pandemic, as well as the union’s desire to financially protect players who wish to opt out of participating in a 2020 season.

Graziano added that the league’s current return-to-play proposal includes listing a positive coronavirus test result as a non-football injury. This is an issue because, per the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, clubs aren’t required to pay any players placed on a Non-Football Injury list.

The NFLPA has already insisted the CBA includes no “force majeure” clause. Theoretically, the union could look to designate coronavirus and coronavirus-related absences as football-related risks, since it’s no secret a fall season would be conducted during an uncontrolled virus outbreak without the existence of a proven and widely available vaccine.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 7/15/20

Big Ten to play conference-only schedule for football, other fall sports

The likelihood of a normal college football season, let alone one at all, decreases with each passing day amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic. 

One day after the Ivy League informed member schools that no fall sports will occur until at least after the new year, the Big Ten announced in a statement it is moving to a conference-only schedule for college football and other fall sports: 

“The Big Ten Conference announced today that if the Conference is able to participate in fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball) based on medical advice, it will move to Conference-only schedules in those sports. Details for these sports will be released at a later date, while decisions on sports not listed above will continue to be evaluated. By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”

The Big Ten also added that member institutions will honor the scholarships of student-athletes who decide not to participate in their respective sports this season due to coronavirus-related concerns.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 7/9/20

Report: Ryder Cup postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic

It appears the disappointing Ryder Cup news most have expected for weeks will be confirmed on Wednesday.

ESPN’s Bob Harig reported that the PGA of America will announce that the Ryder Cup scheduled to occur at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin this September is postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ewan Murray of The Guardian reported the news back on June 22 and added that The PGA of America and European Tour weren’t keen on holding the tournament without fans in attendance. Future editions of the competition will transpire in odd years.

Any lingering hopes the Ryder Cup could welcome a percentage of spectators were dashed on Monday when the PGA reversed a previous position and announced that the Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament held at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio from July 16-19 won’t allow fans amid growing coronavirus cases throughout the country.

It’s not known if the PGA will open courses to fans this summer.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 7/7/20

Minor league baseball season canceled due to coronavirus pandemic

The biggest blow to strike the professional baseball world amid the coronavirus pandemic, to date, wasn’t suffered by Major League Baseball.

One week after ESPN and other outlets reported that 15 minor league teams sued their insurance providers after being denied claims for business-interruption funds during the uncontrolled virus outbreak, Minor League Baseball announced the cancelation of the entire 2020 season.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 6/30/20

Report: Only MLB players considered ‘high risk’ may opt out, receive full prorated pay

Major League Baseball and the players’ union finally agreed to a deal for a 60-game season beginning next month, but not all players will hit the field amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, only players who are considered to be at “high risk” of infection may opt-out of the 2020 campaign and receive their full prorated salary.

There’s been no word on who will be considered “high risk,” but players who have preexisting medical conditions likely will be among the group of players who can opt out. 

MLB players are set to report to training camps on July 1 with Opening Day being held on July 23 or 24. Here are some of the specifics outlined by ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

  • Teams will play their four divisional opponents 10 times and each of the five interleague opponents in the same geographical area four games apiece.
  • The National League will use a designated hitter.
  • In extra innings, teams will begin with a runner on second base.
  • The trade deadline will be Aug. 31, which is before the regular season is scheduled to end. 
  • Rosters will start at 30 players for the first two weeks then go to 28 for the next two weeks and stay at 26 for the remainder of the season. 
  • Teams will have a taxi squad that allows them to have as many as 60 players available to play in major league games. 
  • There will be a COVID-19 injured list with no minimum or maximum length of time spent on it, while standard injured list stints will be for 10 days and the typical 60-day stint will instead be for 45 days.

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By Erin Walsh | Last updated 6/24/20