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This Week in Sports Talk: June 14, 2020

This week in sports talk June 14, 2020

This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines from the past seven days in the world of sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of June 14, 2020, here’s the top sports news, with a twist. Skim it, and you’ll be good to go all week.

This Week in Sports Talk: June 14, 2020

Hey, Happy Flag Day, sports fans! Here are the top 10 stories to know heading into the week of June 14, 2020.

1. Sports world continues to push for social justice

The NBA’s LeBron James has teamed up with several other star athletes and entertainers to form a new voting rights charitable organization focused on the black community. More Than a Vote will focus on voter registration, access to polling sites and exposing voter suppression tactics.

LeBron James. Photo Credit: Brandon Dill, Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the NFL has committed $250 million over 10 years to help fight systematic racism. And Commissioner Roger Goodell has designated this Friday, June 19 – also known as  Juneteenth – as an official paid holiday. June 19, 1865 is the date that a Union general informed enslaved people in Texas of their freedom; it has become a day in which many in the black community celebrate the end of chattel slavery in the US.

2. Could Kap be back?

The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he regrets not signing Colin Kaepernick back in 2017, and revealed that an NFL team called him this week for his take on the quarterback.

Colin Kaepernick.

In the years since Kaepernick first took a knee during the playing of the National Anthem at NFL games, the league and its owners and coaches have changed their posture from one of condemnation to one of tentative support. For example, Bill O’Brien, GM of the Houston Texans, says he will take a knee during the National Anthem this season.

3. NASCAR news

Speaking of flags, just in time for this afternoon’s Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami, NASCAR has agreed to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events. Yep, that happened. 

Bubba Wallace at the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

A single request from the sole black top-level NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, was ostensibly the catalyst for this week’s announcement. 

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4. NBA looking at July 30th re-start

CBS Sports reports that the NBA is eyeing July 30th as its restart date. As previously reported, all games will be played within the sports complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving. Courtesy Photo.

A group of about 80 NBA players convened on a call this week to discuss whether or not they agree with the plan to resume the season. On the call, the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving made a plea for players to sit out the remainder of the season, arguing that playing might distract attention from the reforms being fought for by the “Black Lives Matter” cause. It’s not a view commonly shared by all players, though: LeBron James is reportedly strongly in favor of finishing the season.

5. NFL news

Due to coronavirus concerns, the NFL has cancelled its usual pre-season Organized Team Activities (OTA’s). So team practices and pre-season games are next up on the schedule.

On that note, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady practiced again this week with the Bucs offense, and this time his former Pats teammate Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski was there.  People are encouraged that they are getting some time in even before the teams are allowed to have a formal organized practice. Tompa Bay Gronkaneers, the world eagerly awaits your debut!

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky feels that the Chicago Bears are “still his team,” despite the fact that GM Ryan Pace announced that the team intends to hold an open preseason competition between Trubisky and veteran Nick Foles, whom the Bears acquired from Jacksonville at the onset of free agency.

The NFL’s Hall of Fame Game is still scheduled for August 6, with fans in attendance (20,000 tickets have been sold). The league has said they’ll continue to plan for fans until medical officials make an official determination on the matter. 

Meanwhile, a couple of high-profile free agents remain unsigned. Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney are still without teams (Clowney reportedly turned down a sizable offer from the Seahawks during the off-season). 

Ryan Fitzpatrick sports his winning quarantine beard. Courtesy Photo.

As quarantine restrictions ease and barber shops reopen, the competition for which NFL player would grow the most fulsome beard has drawn to a close. Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has emerged victorious. Aaron Rodgers and “Big Ben” Roethlisberger tied for second place. We think Fitzpatrick’s look is about so much more than the beard, though: the hair, the furrowed brow, the ‘stashe. The man is the total package.

6. PGA Golf is back

PGA Tour golf is officially back for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak lockdowns. Several top players are competing in the Charles Schwab Challenge (although not Tiger Woods).

Sung Kang sunk a hole in one at the Charles Schwab Challenge this weekend. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

In an indicator of what “the new normal” will look like, prior to the start of play, officials tested all 487 players and caddies for COVID-19 (they were all negative). Thursday – the start of the tournament – was a record day for betting on golf. Sports fans have been betting on marble racing, European soccer and e-gaming, all in the hope of finding an actual live event worthy of a wager.

7. NHL takes another step forward

The NHL announced on Thursday that the league would enter Phase 3 of its Return To Play plan on July 10 (unless there are new developments between now and then that would affect the safety and health of all involved). Each of the 24 teams involved in this year’s playoff format would begin training camp that day, the first time they’d be taking the ice together as a group. Still no word on the start date for the rescheduled playoffs, but it’s likely to be 3-4 weeks later.

The plan is that the regular season will resume in 2 hub cities, which are still to be decided upon. At the moment, our Sports Desk reports that Las Vegas and Vancouver seem to be leading the list of 10 cities under consideration. The NHL would ideally like to designate one city in the U.S. and one in Canada. 

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8. MLB Draft

The 2020 MLB Draft took place this week over two nights in a truncated format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of the typical 40 rounds, it was done in just five.

Spencer Torkelson

Spencer Torkelson was the first overall pick, going to the Detroit Tigers. Lots of fans believe that the Toronto Blue Jays actually got the best player overall in No. 5 pick utility player Austin Martin. For the first time in history, the first seven picks of the draft were college players.

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9. MLB stalemate drags on

This week, MLB owners made a counter-offer to players that was DOA. The proposal was formally rejected by the players yesterday. Which was not a big surprise, as it was essentially unaltered in terms of finances from the one the MLBPA rejected during the last round of negotiations.

The Major League Baseball Players Association informed MLB last night that they are done negotiating and want an answer by tomorrow on how many games they’ll play and when to show up for work.

Where is this heading? MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to mandate a season-length of his choosing. The players seem to be demanding that he use this “nuclear option” to force a substantially shorter season – probably 50 games. If he does so, it’s the end of discussions about a longer postseason (which the league really wants).

Sportswriters note how adversarial the 10-week standoff has become, and worry over the long-term impact on the sport. MLB is running out of time on this one – if all the other pro sports leagues continue with their plans to restart seasons, and the NFL achieves its opening dates, there won’t be much fan attention left for baseball in late summer and fall.

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10. Desert Island Discs, UFC edition

First there was Treasure Island. Then Fantasy Island. Followed by Love Island. And now? Fight Island! The UFC announced that Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates capital city of Abu Dhabi will be the site of four major events between July 11 – 25. 

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Courtesy Photo.

Originally conceived as a way to keep fighting despite public health restrictions due to COVID-19, Fight Island may become the Next Big Thing. Abu Dhabi will designate a safety zone of 10 square miles on the island that will be open only to UFC athletes and staff.

In other MMA news, Conor McGregor has announced his retirement from fighting, saying he’s “bored of the game.” It’s the third time McGregor has retired since 2016. Get the man to Fight Island, stat! If that doesn’t cure him of his boredom, nothing will.

This Week in Sports News June 14, 2020

That’s it. You’re good to go with the top headlines and coming attractions heading into the week of June 14, 2020. Stay safe and healthy, dear reader. See you next week.

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

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