The Rules of the Games

June 22, 2021

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

A little change of pace today. The nightly highlights cooled down while the off-the-field storylines ramped up. We’ll turn our attention to the NBA Playoffs, Euro 2020 and the College World Series the rest of this week. For now, it’s major headlines for the Olympics and NCAA.

Letter Rip!



The Rules of the Games

Photo: SOPA Images / Getty Images

International Olympic Committee Delivers Outline for 2021 Games, Fan Attendance, Travel Requirements & More


The 2021 Tokyo Olympics light the flame on the games in just over month, and new information made headlines on Monday. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced that a limited number of fans will be allowed at events next month. The cap is set at 50 percent of each venue and “up to 10,000” spectators, maximum. The catch? Only local spectators will be in attendance as the country is not opening up international travel for non-essential Olympic athletes and staff.


Let’s Go Deeper

Japanese medical professionals had long urged against holding the Olympics while Tokyo was still under a state of emergency with high COVID-19 rates until May. In the last few weeks, the positivity rate in Tokyo dropped below 4 percent. That state of emergency was lifted on Sunday, just one day before the IOC’s announcement, but medical professionals are still against holding the games.


Fan Etiquette & Expectations

The IOC also said masks will be required for fans and “speaking in a loud voice or shouting” is not prohibited. The assumption is that speaking loudly or shouting could lead to an increased spread if social distancing is not properly maintained, but enforcing those rules gets dicey. Get ready for the quietest Olympics of all time.


Japan’s Biggest Concerns

Even though COVID-19 rates have fallen in the past few weeks, Japan’s vaccination campaigns have had serious trouble getting traction. Less than 1/5 of all adults in the country have received the first dose of the vaccine. The IOC expects many of the incoming athletes to be vaccinated, but they have not made it a requirement to participate.


Financial Impact

With overall attendance cut by more than half of the original projected ticket sales, the Japanese government (not the IOC) will lose more than $400 million in revenue. Japan bid on the Olympic host responsibilities back in 2013. Luckily, Tokyo did not need to build numerous Olympic venues over the past eight years, but they did revamp the iconic National Stadium where the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were held. It now holds 68,000 spectators, but it won’t come near that number for the opening and closing ceremonies next month.


Answering the Big Question

Yes, the Olympics are happening. And yes, they’ll be like every other sporting event for the past year — completely different.


Additional Storylines

NBC: Tokyo Olympics Will Allow Some Domestic Fans to Attend Events Despite Covid Fears

Japan Times: It’s Official (For Now): 10,000 Fans to be Allowed at Olympic Events

The Guardian: IOC Pledges to Source Doctors From All Over Globe to Keep Tokyo Olympics Safe



Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA

Photo: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

SCOTUS Unanimously Sides With Student-Athletes in Fight for Compensation


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) upheld a district court decision on the NCAA’s violation of antitrust laws on Monday, paving the way for incremental increases in how college athletes can receive compensation. The ongoing “pay for play” fight has long been leaning against the NCAA, but Monday’s unanimous vote opened the gates for years of transition that could deconstruct the NCAA’s current business model. It was a win for student-athletes, but it’s just the next step in a long process.


What It Means: The NCAA was already progressing towards athletes making money on their name, image and likeness (NIL), but Monday’s ruling further solidified the NCAA’s current model is, was, and has been unlawful.


“The NCAA is not above the law… The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.” — Justice Brett Kavanaugh


Plaintiff’s attorney Jeffrey Kessler is the most famous lawyer in America when it comes to sports labor lawsuits, and he was overjoyed with the result.


“Hopefully it will be the major next step on the road to a true fair competitive system for these athletes.” — Jeffrey Kessler


Additional Storylines

AP: Supreme Court Ruling A Win for College Athletes in Compensation Case

CBS Sports: Supreme Court Cracks NCAA’s Amateurism With Unanimous Decision Allowing Unlimited Benefits Tied to Education



The NBA Draft Lottery Odds

Photo: NBAE / Getty Images

NBA Draft Lottery: Tonight (8:30 pm ET, ESPN)


With no NBA games last night — for the first time in over in a month — we turn our focus to tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery. The future landscape of the league hinges on the bouncing of 14 small ping pong balls with 1,001 possible outcomes. If you’re not familiar with the spectacle, the league pulls from a lot of 14 teams to determine picks 1-4. Then, picks 5-14 are decided by the remaining teams’ regular-season record from last year. The three worst teams have a 14% chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. The draft itself will take place July 29. Here are the odds:


NBA Lottery Odds

Rockets (14%)

Pistons (14%)

Magic (14%)

Thunder (11.5%)

Cavaliers (11.5%)

Timberwolves (9%)

Raptors (7.5%)


Other Teams: Bulls (4.5%), Kings (4.5%), Pelicans (4.5%), Hornets (1.8%), Spurs (1.7%), Pacers (1%), Warriors (0.5%)


The Top Picks: As always, the top draft projections are subject to change. For now, Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State) is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick with Evan Mobley (USC), Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga) and G-League prospects Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga projected in the Top-5.


Additional Storylines

The Ringer: The Ringer’s 2021 NBA Draft Guide (Mock Draft)

Sporting News: NBA Draft Prospects: Ranking the Top 60 Players Overall



🏒 NHL: Lightning Destroy Isles in Game 5 (8-0)

The Tampa Bay Lightning delivered the biggest blowout of the NHL Playoffs on Monday night with an 8-0 shutout against the Islanders that was downright disrespectful. Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist while Brayden Point scored once again to extend his goal streak to eight games. Andrei Vasilevskiy had 21 saves and a spotless scoresheet as Tampa Bay took a 3-2 series lead. They can close it out Wednesday night in Nassau Coliseum.


⚾️ MLB: Jacob deGrom Makes MLB History Again

Jacob deGrom took the mound for the Mets on the MLB’s first official day of sticky-stuff checks, and he didn’t miss a beat. deGrom (5 IP, 6 Ks, 1 H, 0 ER) nailed his 12th straight start with one or fewer earned runs to pass Bob Gibson for the longest streak to start a season. His Mets beat the Braves (4-2), and he dropped his season ERA to just .50.


⚽️ SOCCER: Denmark Join Euro Knockout Stage

After the Christian Eriksen scare last week, Denmark overcame unlikely odds to reach the knockout stage of Euro 2020 on Monday with a 4-1 win over Russia. They needed to win by two goals or more to advance. Eleven total teams have secured their spot in the knockout rounds with six remaining matches and five more bids available in the group stage.


*We’ll have full coverage of the Euro 2020 Tournament and the College World Series in tomorrow’s edition and throughout the rest of the week.



🏀 The U.S. Women’s Basketball Roster

The United States women’s national basketball team roster for the Tokyo Summer Olympics was announced on NBC’s Today on Monday morning. It includes a pair of four-time Olympic gold-medal winners in Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. (Bleacher Report)


⚾️ The Divisional Races Heating Up

As we approach the end of June let’s take stock of the six divisional races. Obviously things can change, teams can get hot, teams can completely melt down, but we’ve likely seen enough to have a good idea of divisional contenders and non-contenders. (CBS Sports)


🏈 Surprising Standouts for All 32 NFL Teams

Unlike last year, this offseason looked more like what we’re used to with an in-person NFL draft, OTAs at team facilities and the return of minicamps for most clubs. So who took the bull by the horns this offseason to make their mark? (ESPN)



Raiders DL Carl Nassib Becomes First Active NFL Player to Come Out as Gay

(USA Today)


Vikings Rookie Jaylen Twyman Shot 4 Times, Expected to Make Full Recovery

(Bleacher Report)


Chris Paul & Kawhi Leonard Both Ruled Out for Game 2 of Suns-Clippers Series

(Yahoo! Sports)


American Sprinter Allyson Felix Qualifies for Her 5th Olympic Games With 50-Second 400M



Tottenham Rejects Manchester City’s $139 Million Offer for Harry Kane

(CBS Sports)


Manchester United Star Marcus Rashford Wins Pat Tillman Award for Service During Pandemic




Question of the Day

Do you think allowing fans at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics is a good idea?