As we all continue to hold down the fort, here are some positive thoughts and moments from the sports world to get us through
With summer around the corner, more states are re-opening and talks of professional sports resuming are finally coming to fruition. In this week’s edition of SGN – Sports, updates are a focal point, as our country is still in turmoil over the unjust murder of George Floyd.
Advocating for change, many athletes have started their own peaceful protests in cities they play in or were raised to bring to light the long outstanding issues our nation faces. Although COVID-19 is still a very real thing, the sentiment around the world has shifted to eliminate a problem that has plagued society for hundreds of years.
The NBA is ready to experience the magic of Disney World, as the Players’ Union and league owners have come to an agreement that sets the remainder of the 2019-20 season at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL. The top 22 teams will head down to the world’s most popular amusement park to play eight regular season games before starting the playoffs. The first games are set to resume on July 31, giving teams such as Zion Williamson’s Pelicans and Ja Morant’s Grizzlies one last shot to collide for a chance to make it in to the final 16. The NBA is playing their cards right by keeping most of its’ young stars involved in this process to ensure outstanding ratings.
The NBA meets Walt Disney World ✨ pic.twitter.com/Roy4jsJ3nm
— ESPN (@espn) June 4, 2020
Taking a page out of the NBA’s book, the MLS solidified its’ return earlier this week, planning the MLS is Back Tournament, which begins on July 8th in Orlando, FL at – you guessed it, Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Details of the tournament structure, rules and regulations, and protocols can be found here. This event could lead the way for a permanent World Cup-style playoff format for the MLS in the future, as it hopes to take advantage of down-time in the other four major sports absence.
Major League Baseball has had a busy week, from its’ 89-game proposal getting some backlash to the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft which aired on ESPN last night. As a result of COVID-19, there are major rule changes to this year’s draft to help teams combat revenue losses from a season that looks to be in complete jeopardy. Instead of 40 rounds, the 2020 MLB Draft is cut to just five. Arizona State first basemen and prominent slugger Spencer Torkelson was selected first overall by the Detroit Tigers. Check out the rest of the picks from last night. Rounds 2-5 start tonight at 5 PM on ESPN for any non-baseball fanatics who don’t have a Netflix show to binge.
Remember the rumors about UFC’s Fight Island? That wild dream by Dana White is becoming a reality – between July 11 and July 25 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. According to White, “fighters will stay and train on the island,” to ensure the safety of the fighters and staff involved. The arena, training facilities, hotels, and dining establishments will also be blocked off to the general public to mitigate risk of COVID-19. Wonder if Dana will take the octagon off completely and let the fighters go Mortal Kombat-style on the beach? I wouldn’t doubt the man.
UFC Fight Island will be located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. They will hold fights there July 11, 15, 18 and 25. pic.twitter.com/wer8CDrE5k
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 9, 2020
One of the most noteworthy stories that is not getting enough attention — NASCAR officially banned the Confederate flag at its’ racetracks. This announcement came two days after Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in NASCAR denounced the exception of the flag within the sport. Wallace’s Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet carried a Black Lives Matter paint scheme in Wednesday night’s race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. He finished 11th in the race, his best career Cup finish at the track. For Bubba to stand up by himself to push this positive change is no small feat, especially in arguably the least diverse sport in the country. Way to go, Bubba.
On par with the Black Lives Matter movement, Michael Jordan, Jordan Brand, and Nike donated $100 Million to racial equality and justice. The donation went to social organizations dedicated to helping change institutionalized and economic racism bestowed upon the black community and will be allotted over ten years to national organizations that are “dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice, and greater access to education.” For a man who was bashed in ESPN’s “The Last Dance” for not helping black people during his time as a player, this move by Jordan surely silences those critics.
Black lives matter. This isn’t a controversial statement. We are you. We are a family. We are a community. pic.twitter.com/cGH8bJl1GQ
— Jordan (@Jumpman23) June 5, 2020
Peaceful protests have been happening now for almost two weeks in our country, and its’ important that we highlight a few that star athletes are leading within their communities. In Jacksonville, the entire Jacksonville Jaguars organization led a peaceful protest. Led by star running back Leonard Fournette, head coach Doug Marrone, and General Manager Dave Caldwell, the team marched with others in the community. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and other teammates of the Golden State Warriors took place in Oakland’s Walking in Unity protest last Wednesday. Lastly Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. joined rapper J. Cole in their hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
That’s it for this run! Be sure to check back same time next week for more features, stories, and updates that fill the current sports void in our lives.