Our Friday editions normally include the weekend ‘Must-Watch List.’ While a number of unique one-off events may continue to grab our attention behind closed doors, the regular sports content we consume is now absent. Yesterday, we asked the question…
Pro Athletes Flock to Twitch to Pass Time During Social Distancing
In a world where the biggest stars in sports are forced to quarantine, video games have quickly become the big winners. But don’t get it twisted. The popular E-Sports leagues like Overwatch and Call of Duty are cancelling their large in-person events while numerous video game conventions shut down as well, but the online streaming community has boomed — a reported 75% increase in the U.S. in the last week.
Pro athletes from all sports have embraced video game streaming like never before. While the Suns’ Devin Booker, Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, and Steelers’ Juju Smith-Schuster are already some of the most-watched streamers on the popular Twitch platform, names like Luka Doncic (Mavericks) and Paul George (Clippers) have joined the game. A number of NBA, MLB, and NHL players are playing out their regular-season schedules in NBA 2K20, NHL 20, and MLB The Show.
Introducing eNASCAR’s iRacing
On Tuesday night, NASCAR announced its own alternative amid coronavirus shutdowns. They’re partnering with iRacing for the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series — a multi-week series on Sundays at 1:30 pm ET on FS1. It includes names like Dale Earnhardt. Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Now that the news has really set in, don’t be surprised to see other NBA, NHL, and MLB alternatives centered around online competitions that draw thousands of viewers.
NBC Sports: NASCAR to Launch iRacing Pro Invitational Series
FTW: With No NBA Games To Play, Players Are Becoming Streamers
NPR: As Hanging Out Gets Difficult, More People Are Turning to Video Games
Gurley Hits the Market
Rams Release 2017 Offensive Player of the Year
Todd Gurley rushed into NFL record books with 2,000-plus yards and 19 TDs just two seasons ago. That performance earned him the richest contract for a running back in NFL history at the time (4 years, $60 million). Yesterday, the Rams released him, proving the longevity of running backs is about as short as your new work-from-home commute. In the end, the cap-strapped Rams just saved more than $10 million by parting ways with the oft-injured ball-carrier, but another big-name player just hit the free-agent market.
Other NFL Roster News
CB Darius Slay Jr. → Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles filled a huge need at corner by sending two draft picks to Detroit for pro bowler Darius Slay. Philly gave him a 3-year, $50 million deal that makes him the highest-paid corner back in the NFL. (ESPN)
QB Joe Flacco → Free Agent
The Broncos released former Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Flacco due to a “failed physical designation” after just one season. (SI)
CBS Sports: The Top-10 Remaining Free Agents
More Positive Tests in Sports
Athletes & Celebrities Continue to Have Better Access to Coronavirus Testing
Seems unfair, and it is. It’s also a little confusing. One of the week’s hot-button issues continues to focus on why athletes and celebrities have an unfair advantage in the battle for coronavirus testing. While there’s an argument for (they’re high-profile figures who travel, interact with large groups, and can impact change) and against (athletes are the younger, healthier demographic that don’t require immediate care), something needs to be done, soon.
Regardless of the VIP treatment that seems to be unfolding, another batch of confirmed cases hit the headlines on Thursday. The cases below are not believed to be serious or life-threatening.
Confirmed Cases (Thursday, 3/19)
Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints Coach)
Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
3 Players or Staff (Philadelphia 76ers)
2 Players or Staff (Los Angeles Lakers)
1 Team Member (Denver Nuggets)
CBS Sports: Coronavirus Sports Update: Payton, Smart, & More
ESPN: How the NBA Moved Quickly With Coronavirus Testing
Washington Post: VIPs Go To Front Of The Line For Coronavirus Tests
⚫️ How Athletes Are ‘Social Distancing’
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak shutting down leagues across the world, athletes have been forced to fill entire days with other activities. (Sporting News)
⚫️ ‘I Just Need to be Home’
Inside the frustrating, fearful lives of American athletes competing overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic. (B/R)
⚫️ The Last Sport Standing
Meet Major League Fishing. As the made-for-TV circuit swims on—with viewership rising—it reveals our nation’s newest cultural divide. (SI)
⚫️ When You Needed It Most…
ESPN8: The Ocho returns on Sunday (Mar. 22) to feature a wide array of “seldom seen” sports, from Robot Fighting to Death Diving. (ESPN)
📰 THE HEADLINES
BIG3 Basketball League to Hold Quarantined Tournament in April
Red Sox Ace Chris Sale to Undergo Tommy John Surgery
Influx of Free Agents Want to Join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay