The Strangest Sports Week Ever
To say that 2020 has been a bit strange is an understatement. People wear a mask when entering banks, toilet paper and Clorox wipes are the new currency, and being home-schooled has a whole new meaning.
In a year that has included political division, countless protests, and a worldwide pandemic, it is only with the return of sports that we are allowed distraction for a few hours, briefly returning to a world we once deemed sane.
Sports are the rational in a time of irrationality, the normal in times of abnormality, and the calming in times of calamity.
At least until this week that is.
- The Milwaukee Bucks, protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake, decided not to show up to their playoff matchup against the Orlando Magic, leading to an NBA shutdown that threatened to end the season. The players were eventually convinced to return days later after a subsequent league meeting and a phone call that included Lebron James, Chris Paul, and their friend on speed-dial, Barack Obama.
- The WNBA also boycotted their games that evening, but not before a quick uniform change as players exchanged their team jerseys for white t-shirts…with seven bullet holes portrayed on the back.
- Two coaches, Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Nate McMillan of the Indiana Pacers, were fired after their teams were eliminated from the playoffs. The firing of Brown wasn’t too surprising considering his underachieving team, but the firing of McMillan came as a bit of a shock…considering they had just given the coach a one-year extension, two weeks ago.
- The Milwaukee Brewers joined the protest as one of six teams that decided not to play on Wednesday night, while in a delayed response, many more teams postponed their games the following day. Slow to integrate baseball, slow to respond to social matters, and slow to look into the decline of the African-Americans in their sport. Not sure that MLB gets BLM.
- On a positive note, Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito pitched a no-hitter last week, striking out 13 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Which brings up the question, if a no-hitter is pitched and no one is there to see it, did it really happen?
- The NHL, NFL, and MLS all joined in the protest by either canceling practices or postponing games. The move by the MLS (Major League Soccer) was the most surprising as most sports fans assumed the season ended three weeks ago when the Portland Timbers won the MLS is Back Tournament over Orlando City.
- North Carolina State announced that it would move to online classes only after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the athletic department and their teams to shutdown temporarily, joining the University of North Carolina as schools within the state struggling to control their positive case trends. Clemson University, also located in North Carolina, responded by announcing that their football stadium would reduce attendance to a mere 19,000 per game while requiring mask coverings. Unless they were eating or drinking.
- Eight Nebraska Cornhusker football players are suing the Big Ten in claiming that the postponement of the season may affect the players ability to market themselves and hurts their future football prospects. Why do I get the feeling that these players are being represented by the law firm of Osborne, Lincoln, & Frost?
- Phil Mickelson took advantage of a recent birthday by winning the Schwab Series at Ozark, his first PGA Tour Event designed for golf’s seniors aged 50-and-over. Meanwhile, at the BMW FedX Challenge, golfer Jon Rahm had his own senior moment. After picking up his ball on the putting green, Rahm gently cleaned it and bent down to position it next to his marker while preparing for his 8-foot par putt. That’s when Rahm realized that he had never put a marker down to mark its spot. Rahm would be penalized a stroke but go on to finish in fifth place.
- The Republican National Convention was held last week as guest speakers included the Director of the US Economic Council, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Dana White, the President of the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
- And finally, Lewis Hamilton, the only African American racecar driver in Formula One history, celebrated his first overall pole position on Saturday by climbing onto the hood of his car and giving the Wakanda Forever salute, a tribute to the actor Chadwick Boseman who passed earlier in the week. Hamilton would go on to win the Belgian Grand Prix the following day.