By Oliver Collins
COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the NFL season in general, the NFL draft was held online and broadcast live to ESPN, the entire pre-season was canceled, and many NFL players are choosing to opt out of their contracts. Many rookies have had a difficult time adjusting to the NFL, but it only makes it harder that everything is different. Even NFL veterans are struggling with the requirements set to make sure no outbreaks start in the league.
Many different athletes need the pre season to adjust and get their bodies ready for an NFL season that is fast moving and extremely taxing. Many rookies establish their abilities to be on the roster and coaches get a chance to work new plays into the playbook. This year the entire pre season didn’t take place which means that many different players are forced to condition and sometimes train on their own time. This can create major injury problems. Since in-game situations require 11 people to tackle players, it can be hard for players to simulate that on their own time. In week 1 of the NFL season there were around 20 injuries. It’s crazy to not only know that there is this amount of injuries in a week of football, but week 2 had even more injuries, with over 30.
Saquon Barkley, a running back for the New York Giants, was injured in a play that could sacrifice the rest of his season. The major injuries that have occurred already have led to a lot of criticism of the regulations of training, and practicing throughout the season so far.
Another key factor this year is that players are choosing to opt out of the season to protect their families from COVID-19. A very inspiring decision, many NFL players including Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, are putting their family above themselves and choosing to not play the season with less pay. Devernay-Tardif is a doctor as well as an NFL player said, when asked why he made his decision, “This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life but I must follow my convictions and do what I believe is right for me personally.” It’s surprising that players are willing to take a pay decrease to avoid the risk of contracting the virus, but if you think about it it is the right thing to do.
Despite some players' decisions to remain off the field, many teams do not have the same mindset for safety. Some teams including the Kansas City Chiefs are allowing fans to be in attendance during games. This is very dangerous, and poor made decisions by general managers. Sure they want their fans to be excited and happy to watch games and enjoy their team. But so many different people and businesses have been affected by the global pandemic, there is no reason teams should be taking the risk of spreading the disease throughout their fanbase. Lack of fans in the stands can have a negative effect on the money teams make, however, the truth is that most of the money NFL teams get are from T.V providers. Allowing fans to come to the games is an all around bad situation for both players in the NFL, and the Kansas City community.
So much has already taken place in this young NFL season; players’ opt outs, injuries, and fan’s being authorized to attend games live. It’s strange to think that teams think it’s ok to trust their fans to stay 6 feet apart in the midst of this global pandemic. It seems like this decision is disregarding the concern to keep everyone as safe as possible. How is the commission team for the NFL enforcing fines for not wearing masks on the field but allowing teams to have fans in their stadium during games? Even the preseason was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions, which most definitely had a toll on players' health as well as play calling for teams offenses and special teams. It's scary to think that any outbreak on any team could mean a quick end to the NFL season but that is the world we are currently living in. Let’s just continue to pray that that doesn’t happen.
First National Women's Soccer League Team coming to Los Angeles in 2022.
By Mark Molz
There is no shortage of professional sports in the city of Los Angeles.
The home of two professional football franchises, two NBA teams, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, one WNBA team, two MLB teams, a pair of MLS squads, and a NHL franchise, there is a team for almost everyone. I say almost because out of ten current teams and the myriad of organizations to come in and out of Los Angeles, a professional women’s soccer team has yet to call LA their home, until now.
Entering in 2022, the National Women’s Soccer league (NWSL) will be adding a brand new expansion team to the city of angels. With no official name or venue announced yet, the announcement of the team is as far as they have come currently. For now the team is formally known as “Angel City.” The eight year old league of the NWSL will be adding its tenth team in its history.
Women’s soccer has been rapidly rising in the U.S and there is no better place for the NWSL to add their new team. Founders Natalie Portman, an academy award winning actress, Kara Nortman, and Julie Uhrman, founder and president, have teamed up with many investors to make this dream become a reality. Investors include Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian , former USWNT players Abby Wambach, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and more. Other investors in the team include actresses Eva Longoria and Julie Gardner. With the help of these individuals and many more LA is finally leaving its mark on professional women’s soccer.
President Julie Uhrman made this statement in her written letter addressed to the new founded organization, “Our growing collective of activists, actors, athletes, and entrepreneurs truly believe in LA's incredible sports culture, and the power of soccer, the most popular sport on Earth.” She continued to state, “with nine professional teams and NCAA powerhouses USC and UCLA, isn't it high time that we also have a women's soccer team to rally behind?”
And high time it is. With women’s soccer rapidly growing and the USWNT being a powerhouse on the world stage, winning back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup, California and the Los Angeles community has been needing a team like Angel City to come in and take the stage.
LA has long been a hub for the professional sports world and it was only right that the NWSL is joining the rich history of winning that comes with the city. Although Angel City won’t make its mark until 2022 it only feels right to be excited for their debut and the bright future of the NWSL.
By Mark Molz
NBA players were once told to “shut up and dribble” and this is something they simply cannot and will not do. They are and will continue to advocate for racial justice and equality through the platform they have rightfully earned.
In a time of uncertainty, a pandemic, and nation wide protesting, the sports world has rebooted and the NBA is at the forefront of fighting for racial justice in America. Faces of the NBA such as LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Chris Paul have been effectively using their platform as professional athletes to speak out against police brutality, inequality, and push for social reform in our world today. The NBA, the players, and the coaches are taking this opportunity to encourage people to take a moment, stop, look at the world around them, and fight for what's right.
Players, like LeBron James, have spoken out about the racial injustices in America for countless years and have used their platform to not just “shut up and dribble,” but promote equality, change, and justice where it has been long overdue.
Before the NBA decided to move to the “bubble,” as they call it, to play safely for the rest of the regular and postseason, NBA players gathered in protest across America demanding for change and racial justice. Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and DeMar DeRozan are just a few of the players who were shouting “say her name,” “Black Lives Matter,” and more in the fight for justice in our communities.
The first step the NBA took as they entered the bubble was allowing the players to replace their last names on their jerseys with statements of social justice. The statements included; “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” “Vote,” “I Can’t Breathe,” and more to promote change and use their platform to speak on the racial injustice taking place in America. Although the players are now in their bubble in Orlando, Florida it hasn’t stopped them from supporting and using their platform beyond the statements on the back of their jerseys.
The NBA has had a domino effect for other sport organizations in taking steps in the right direction. In the first round of the Eastern Conference the Milwaukee Bucks protested game 5 by refusing to take the court in the light of the Jacob Blake shooting. Following the Bucks decision to protest, the WNBA postponed 3 games, the MLS postponed 5, and the MLB postponed its remaining games over the next few days. Following their protest the Bucks players released a statement saying, “despite the overwhelming plea for change there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
Following the postponement of the playoffs both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers voted to not finish the season in light of the police brutality and racial injustices that have continued to take place. Although they have now continued the postseason they have continually taken advantage of their global impact by using their post/pregame interviews, social media, and their clothing to advocate for racial justice, and will continue to do so until progress is seen.
The NBA and the players have realized what needs to be done for change to take place and that starts with acts such as protesting. After the protest and postponement of the playoffs the NBA released a statement to convert NBA arenas into in-person polling locations for the up-coming election. Alongside turning arenas to polling locations many NBA players have used this time in the bubble to register to vote themselves, and a handful of teams also plan to give their employees paid time off to vote in local and national elections.
Not only active players are paving a way for change, former NBA player Michael Jordan, with the help of his brand, has pledged to donate $100 million over the next ten years “to organizations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice, and greater education.” The statement also said, “We represent a proud family that has overcome obstacles, fought against discrimination in communities worldwide and that works everyday to erase the stain of racism and the damage of injustice.”
This is a time where the NBA knows complacency is not an option. The players and organizations are representing the active movements that must be taken in order for change to occur. They are motivating others, pushing individuals to take a leap for what's right, and are taking action to pave the way for tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. They are encouraging us to not be afraid, but most importantly encouraging us to inspire ourselves and others.
Lebron said it best in his twitter post, “Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!”
By Oliver Collins
College athletic careers have always been very fragile and pressurized, with the risk of injuries and keeping up with school work. But the pressure to stay in shape during the Covid-19 outbreak is almost too much to stand for some athletes. So how have athletes learned to deal with training and maintaining their ability to compete while the pandemic keeps them in place? Athletes from Saint Mary’s College of California give us their insight and experiences on how hard it is to adapt athletically during these difficult times.
It's crazy to think that just 8 months ago everything was normal, in person classes were in session as planned, school sports were in full swing and that week night football session or night out was still a common routine. Of course when the deadly outbreak of Covid-19 broke loose everything changed, but what people fail to realize is that athletes take a large brunt of that force as well. March Madness, college baseball and men’s volleyball season are all opportunities for rising college athletes to show their potential, not to mention fall sports like softball, cross country and golf.
However the truth is many athletes have not grown accustomed to training under COVID law, Jocelyn ‘Jojo’ Bryant a softball player for the Saint Mary’s freshman team says, “we haven’t completely started yet, but I’m sure it will be a challenge to train with COVID lurking over our shoulders.” Softball is a sport that requires multiple players to practice, obviously without wearing gloves when throwing the ball there is no way to protect players from the possibility of contracting COVID. This could force players to simply weight train and exercise privately until the season is underway and the team enters their own bubble.
Many college athletes have managed to stay motivated through the outbreak, they continue to find ways to master their craft by training constantly. But how long until athletes lose that first month motivation, how long until they begin to lose hope that their season will finally come.
Cross country is not a sport that requires multiple runners to practice for, but training (as you can probably understand) is no walk in the park. Luke Bland, a member of the Saint Mary's cross country team runs an average of 10 miles per day, and the smoke coming from the Northern California fires doesn’t make it any easier, “Without races it’s hard to stay motivated so you have to create personal goals for yourself in training. Also knowing your running for a great program has definitely helped me stay motivated”, Bland emphasizes. Now, the cross country team has it much better than most sports because they can run with each other without being within close proximity.
Obviously team bonding is a very important part of a sport, as an article by the blog, sports management team at Arbiter Sports states, “Bonding exercises encourage goal-setting, communication, problem solving and stress management skills that will be vital on and off the field. In addition, team members who often work together can trust one another – and trust can help win games (or events).” The outbreak makes it nearly impossible to get close with teammates and coaches, a large part of success in sports is team bonding or team building and not being able to do either definitely hurts the chemistry of a team.
So what are some ways that sports can keep in touch during this time of uncertainty? Diego Huerta (2024), another member of the cross country team says, “We find ways to stay connected, whether it be through zoom calls or during runs we find ways to keep that needed chemistry intact.”
Having been an athlete in the past myself, it’s difficult to describe how hard it is to motivate yourself to train and improve. Dylan De Prosperis, 2024, a Saint Mary’s golf player vocalizes, “It can be difficult to stay motivated but my secret is to set goals for myself and work toward them.” Setting goals and making schedules is a great way for athletes to stay conditioned throughout the outbreak. Adapting to that collegiate sport lifestyle is no easy feat, and being in shape is a must for any college player. Any injury could mean the loss of a scholarship. In my junior year of high school just a week after receiving an email about a possible scholarship I shattered my wrist, throwing would never be the same and baseball became distant. Athletes face dozens of different pressures every week and Covid-19 only adds to them, adapting to this scary way of life is the most difficult part of it all. A puzzle that all athletes have to solve.
During this outbreak many athletes have been forced to stay home and not continue their dreams of being a Division 1 athlete. Here at Saint Mary’s many students are being allowed on campus which means many athletes are allowed to train on campus with teammates (socially distanced of course). Athletes have been practicing relentlessly throughout the spring and summer, whether it be for baseball, basketball or any other sport. But what happens if COVID doesn’t go away? Do we need to prepare for a permanent pandemic?
Melanie Moyer '22,