Top 10 Headlines to Know About Sports This Week
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This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines and current news events from the past seven days in the world of pro sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of September 5, 2021, these are the top 10 headlines you need to know about to understand and join the conversation this week about sports, including football, baseball, tennis and basketball news.
this week in sports talk September 5, 2021
Happy First Weekend of Real College Football! Happy T minus 4 days to the start of the NFL season! Oh – and Happy Labor Day weekend, dear reader.
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We begin with a tale from the US Open of a man and his bathroom break. Third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas came under fire for the timing and length of his trips to the loo in the middle of a match, with opponent Andy Murray heavily criticizing him following their first-round match. During the match, Tsitsipas left the court for seven minutes after the fourth set.
The US Open match against Murray wasn’t the first time this happened. After losing a tight first set in the Cincinnati Masters semifinal two weeks ago, Tsitsipas left the court with his bag and didn’t return for eight minutes. His opponent accused Tsitsipas of leaving the court with his phone so he could text his coach.
Technically, Tsitsipas did not break any rules – there are no specific time limits on bathroom breaks. The standard is a “reasonable” amount of time. Nevertheless, the Greek player became the designated villain of this tournament, with the crowd actively heckling and booing him during his Round 3 match, which was a thriller that he ultimately lost (more on that below).
What else do you need to know this week? Here’s our take on the top 10.
top 10 headlines to know to join the talk about sports this week: September 5, 2021
1. NFL Season starts Thursday
As we mentioned, there are only 4 days left before the NFL regular season begins. The Dallas Cowboys will visit the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to kick off the 2021-22 season.
In an interview this week with the Tampa Bay Times, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady announced this week that shortly after the raucous boat parade to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl win (where he tossed the trophy from his boat to another one carrying his teammates), he contracted COVID-19.
The team reports that 100% of its players and staff are now fully vaccinated – but as we know, break-through cases are not unheard of. Brady thinks that the specter of coronavirus will hang heavily over this season, telling the Times: “I think it’s going to be challenging this year. I actually think it’s going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we’re doing now and what the stadium is going to look like.” It’s gonna be an interesting season . . .
2. Saints-Packers game moved to Jacksonville
The New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers will open up their 2021 regular season at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, the NFL announced on Wednesday. The game was slated for New Orleans’ Caesars Superdome, but was moved due to the extensive damage in the region from Hurricane Ida.
3. Mac Jones to start for the Patriots
Even when the Patriots picked quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15 in the first round of the draft earlier this year, everyone still assumed that Cam Newton would be starting. But now Newton is off the team, and Jones has been named the starter. He has inked a four-year, $16 million contract (with a fifth-year option).
Jones was impressive in training camp, while sadly Newton missed time due to a misunderstanding over the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Has Bill Belichick found a new horse to ride? We in Patriots Nation await the answer with bated breath.
4. Ranked college football teams start their season
This was the first weekend when the the AP-ranked teams began playing, so we can now declare that college football is officially back!
On Thursday, No. 4 Ohio State started its season off with a win over Big 10 rival Minnesota. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud threw four touchdown passes.
There were some good Top 25 matchups yesterday. No. 1 Alabama trounced No. 14 Miami, 44-13, in a strong start to defending their national championship.
No. 5 Georgia met No. 3 Clemson, with lots of talk about what Clemson might look like without former quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne. It may be too early to declare a definitive answer, but Georgia upset Clemson, 10-3.
No. 19 Penn State beat No. 12 Wisconsin, 16-10. No. 17 Indiana fell to No. 18 Iowa, 6-34. No. 23 Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns lost to the No. 21 Texas Longhorns, 18-38. And finally, the ACC’s Virginia Tech upset #10 North Carolina, 17-10.
5. More rumors about expansion in the Big 12
According to a report from CBS Sports, the Big 12 is preparing to invite BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference in the near future. The league presidents will vote at a planned meeting this coming week.
6. Dodgers slip behind Giants, Yankees still trail Tampa Bay
In the final full month of the MLB regular season, lots of things are still in flux. The Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers appear to have their divisions wrapped up. But everything else is still in play. The post-season begins October 5, so the next few weeks should be riveting.
For instance, after moving into first place earlier in the week, the LA Dodgers are now tied with the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The Giants are having a Cinderella season that seems to be still unfolding, while the defending World Series champion Dodgers have had to make up lost ground throughout most of the season.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the New York Yankees haven’t gained much ground on Tampa Bay in the AL East. Even after a 14-game winning streak, the Yanks have lost 4 of their last 6 games, and they’re 7.5 games back.
In the NL East, the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals in extra innings in the first game of a double-header yesterday. But they lost the second game. They had been on a 7-game winning streak, though, and there are still hopes for the post-season. The Mets are now only 3.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves, and 2 back from Phillies.
In addition to the division pennant races, the final Wild Card slots are in close contention. The Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres are within a half-game of each other for the final playoff spot in the National League. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics are jockeying for position for the final Wild Card spot in the American League.
7. Djokovic advances and Alcaraz shines at US Open
Taking another step in his bid to complete the first calendar-year Slam by a man in more than a half-century, Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round at the US Open for the 14th consecutive time. He came from behind to beat Kei Nishikori 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.
American Frances Tiafoe, 23, advanced to the fourth round for the second straight year at the Open after winning a 5-set match against fifth-seeded Russian, Andrey Rublev that lasted into the wee hours of Saturday morning. At the 2:14a close, there were only about 650 fans left in the stands, and he thanked them for helping him to power through. Later today, Tiafoe will face 12th-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The USTA is hoping to get at least one American male player into the second week of the competition. Good luck, dude!
In what may be remembered as his first breakout victory, Carlos Alcaraz, a charismatic 18-year-old from Spain, eliminated the No. 3 men’s seed (and tournament villain) Stefanos Tsitsipas. It all came down to a fifth-set tiebreaker. And now some are saying that Alcaraz is “the new Rafa.” Smells like teen spirit . . .
8. Osaka and Barty both out at US Open
In a heart-breaking ending for her fans, defending champion Naomi Osaka lost in the third round of the US Open to the rising, unseeded 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
Afterward, the deeply disappointed and frustrated Osaka said she did not know when she would play her next tennis match. The upset came on the same court where Osaka had become a global star by defeating Serena Williams to win the 2018 U.S. Open. Osaka has since won three more Grand Slam singles titles. But she has had a troubled and emotional season, after winning the Australian Open. She withdrew from the French Open, withdrew from Wimbledon and lost in early rounds at the Tokyo Olympics.
Osaka’s public discussion of the pressures of being a professional athlete – particularly one who is a woman of color – can perhaps be best illustrated by an awful experience that another female player had just one day earlier.
After defeating Coco Gauff in Round 2, American Sloane Stephens said she received more than 2,000 abusive messages and comments on her Instagram following her third round loss to Angelique Kerber on Friday night. The messages included racial slurs and threats. She described it as “so exhausting and never ending.” We feel you, girl. And we stand with you.
Finally, top-seeded Ash Barty was upset by Shelby Rogers last night in just one more in a series of surprising wins by underdogs and up-and-comers during the past week at the US Open.
9. PGA Tour Championship
The 2021 Tour Championship has been all about two golfers for the entire week: Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm. The last round at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta will be played this afternoon. The winner takes $15 million.
10. NHL players can compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced on Friday that they have reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation that will include a break during the 2021-22 NHL regular season. This will allow NHL players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing if they choose to.
This Week in Sports Talk September 5, 2021
That’s our take on the news headlines today and the previews of the week ahead that you need to know to understand and join the talk about sports – including football, baseball, golf, tennis and basketball. Stay safe and strong out there, 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.