The State of Sportslessness

March 20, 2020

By: Jeff Yoder

NPR Sports’ Mike Pesca
“There is a fantom limb quality to our current state of ‘sportslessness’…The back pages of the tabloids are still the ‘sports’ pages, but they’re really the ‘lack of sports’ pages… Sports is a force that brings us together, but togetherness is now forbidden.”
🔊 Listen: What It Means To Be A Sports Fan During COVID-19 Outbreak (3:26)

Missing Sports

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…

Thanks to everyone who gave their feedback. Stay tuned for more info about how we’ll be handling the current state of sports content over the coming weeks/months ahead.
Video Games Soar After League Shutdowns

Photo: Peter Summers / Getty Images

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 2K20NHL 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.

Additional Storylines
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

Photo: Harry How / Getty Images

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.

Read More (USA Today)
7 Landing Spots for Gurley (CBS Sports)

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)

Additional Reads
CBS Sports: The Top-10 Remaining Free Agents



More Positive Tests in Sports

Photo: Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

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)

Additional Reads
CBS Sports: Coronavirus Sports Update: Payton, Smart, & More
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)



BIG3 Basketball League to Hold Quarantined Tournament in April
(Yahoo! Sports)

Red Sox Ace Chris Sale to Undergo Tommy John Surgery
(Sports Illustrated)

Influx of Free Agents Want to Join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay
(Bleacher Report)

English Premier League Extends Suspension Until April 30

Buffalo Bills Showing Strong Interest in Chargers RB Melvin Gordon
(CBS Sports)

Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix Officially Cancelled, Not Postponed
(BBC Sport)