The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook has donated 650 computers to children in need so they can continue learning with schools shut down because of the new coronavirus.
Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation teamed with Comp-U-Dopt and Houston mayor Sylvester Turner’s office of education to provide computers to underprivileged children across the city.
Comp-U-Dopt has given almost 1,000 computers to families in Houston since March 18 through a computer drive-thru. Families register through the Comp-U-Dopt website and can get a free computer if they are selected through a lottery. Turner’s office said that 83% of students given computers live in households earning less than $35,000 a year.
“Russell Westbrook proves why he is a champion on and off the court,” Turner said. “This donation will be a game changer for many students and their families coping with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores has purchased 100,000 PPE masks for deployment and use by the city of Detroit.
Gores and Mayor Mike Duggan announced the purchase Monday. The surgical-grade masks will be provided to police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and other city workers to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. Gores is arranging to have the masks picked up as soon as Tuesday from a supplier in New Jersey.
Nebraska fans can scratch their football itch Saturday when the school’s athletic department streams a virtual spring game on its social media platforms.
All 39 spring games scheduled this week have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Nebraska spring game typically draws as many as 85,000 at Memorial Stadium. Last year’s contest generated about $1 million in ticket sales and concessions.
The virtual spring game will feature Nebraska greats of the past with audio provided by the voices of the Learfield IMG College/Husker Sports radio network.
Georgia has produced a virtual G-Day plan for Saturday. The SEC Network will re-broadcast the 2019 game against Notre Dame. Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart will tweet commentary. The team’s radio broadcast team will have a Facebook live broadcast.
Notre Dame is holding a Saturday night “watch party” with the 2006 game against UCLA on the athletic department’s YouTube channel. There will be a fan chat, trivia questions and chances to win Fighting Irish apparel.
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun, head football coach Nick Rolovich, and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith will all take voluntary 5% pay cuts through the end of the 2020-21 academic year due to revenue reductions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a lengthy letter to fans and alumni, Chun said while the full economic impact of the pandemic is not known, the school’s athletic department is taking steps to soften the blow from the loss of expected revenue.
In addition to the salary cuts, Chun said all Washington State coaches will voluntarily forgo all bonuses or incentives through the end of the 2020-21 academic year. The school will also freeze the prices of season tickets and student sports passes for fans and continue to be flexible with football season-ticket renewals and payments.
Chun also said the school is estimating an additional $300,000 in grant-in-aid costs for athletes in spring sports who have indicated an interest in taking advantage of having an additional year of eligibility.
Two-time Stanley Cup champion and 2016 Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty is pessimistic about the chances of the NHL resuming play this season.
The star Los Angeles Kings defenseman said Monday it’s going to be difficult for hockey to get back this season, even just to hold the playoffs and hand out the Stanley Cup.
“Honestly, I don’t see how the season is going to return,” Doughty said. “I really don’t. We have no idea when this virus is going to be over.”
The 30-year-old known for his frank answers and commentary cast doubt on the validity of a 2020 Cup winner, especially given that there were 189 regular-season games left and not all teams had played the same number of games. Doughty is also concerned about how playing late into the summer might affect next season, which the league has maintained it wants to play in full.
“I know they so badly want to give out the Stanley Cup this year, but in all seriousness it’s not going to be like winning a real Stanley Cup because the (regular) season wasn’t finished,” Doughty said. “There’s teams that couldn’t get in the playoffs. And then I’m assuming they’d have to come up with a different playoff format. I don’t know. It’d be a little different. I’m not a huge fan of it, as much as I want to play. I just don’t want things to go into next season and affecting those (games).”
Doughty, who won the Cup with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014, said “for sure” his opinion would be different if the Kings were in a different spot in the standings. They were 28th out of 31 teams and eliminated from playoff contention.
But he added that his view on the NHL season was more affected by the state of the world during the coronavirus pandemic than the logistics of holding sporting events.
“Everything just keeps getting delayed even more, like lockdowns and stuff like that,” Doughty said. “People are dying even more every day. So I just don’t see how or when we’re going to be able to make any type of decision to return to the season.”
In an interview Monday on CNN, Commissioner Gary Bettman continued to say the NHL hasn’t ruled anything in or out when it comes to the resumption of play.
“We’re exploring all options, but when we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,” Bettman said. “Until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just in our arenas but for our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back, but it’s something we’re monitoring on a daily basis.”
— Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno reporting
Six Milwaukee Brewers players and longtime team broadcaster Bob Uecker are contributing to a $1 million fund that the franchise has established to assist game-day workers at Miller Park who have lost wages due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Outfielder/first baseman Ryan Braun was the first to commit by providing a $100,000 pledge to the fund. Uecker followed with a $50,000 pledge. Outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich and pitchers Corey Knebel, Josh Lindblom and Brent Suter provided additional pledges to bring the total to $300,000.
Braun and Yelich already had teamed with 3rd Street Market Hall to help provide thousands of meals to Milwaukee-area health care providers working with four major hospital networks during the pandemic.
The Spanish league says it will not attend upcoming meetings organized by the Spanish Football Federation to discuss the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The league says the decision is a response to the federation’s release to the media of audios from a previous meeting to allegedly boost its own interests.
The league says it will take the necessary legal actions against the federation for having released the information without anybody else’s consent.
Spain’s players’ association had already said it would sue the federation because of the audios that undermined its president.
The federation admits it released the recordings but denies they were leaked. It says it was clear to everyone that the conversations would be recorded.
The federation, the league, and the players’ association have been at odds over a variety of issues in recent years and the disputes have continued during the pandemic despite their own calls for unity.
Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier revealed Monday that she was on a recruiting trip to Spain when the coronavirus scare began seriously gripping the globe last month, and immediately returned to South Florida for a two-week period of self-quarantine.
Miami has an incoming freshman for next season from Spain, Paula Fraile Ruiz. And Europe has been a major part of Meier’s recruiting strategies for many years, so she went to Spain shortly after the Hurricanes were ousted from the ACC Tournament.
Most of her meetings and visits were canceled. She left about a day after arriving, and one player she was in contact with was getting alerts on her phone about the severity of the pandemic during her meeting with Meier.
“And I said, ‘OK, I need to go,’” Meier said. “I had two more visits planned, but I didn’t make them and got back.”
Meier was planning to be in New York this weekend to support Miami’s Beatrice Mompremier at the WNBA draft, though that trip was canceled because of the pandemic, as well. The draft will be done remotely as planned.
The Premier Lacrosse League has postponed the start of its 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The season was scheduled to begin play on May 29 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The PLL plans to announce an update in May on a new start date for the season.
“The health of our players, coaches, fans and colleagues are of paramount importance to us as we go through this unprecedented time,” Mike Rabil, who founded the league with his brother Paul, said in a statement. “As a league, we will continue to adhere to guidelines administered by the CDC, respective state governments, and our hosting venues. This was a difficult decision for our league but a necessary measure to ensure the safety of all parties.”
The league debuted last year with six teams traveling to different cities to play weekend games. One team was added for this season, which has 12 weekends of regular season action planned, including an all-star game, before its playoffs.
The National Lacrosse League last week canceled the last three weekends of its regular season. The league says returning for its playoffs will be determined “based on the COVID-19 circumstances.”
The Cleveland Browns will donate net proceeds from sales of their new jerseys to a fund aiding health care professionals, first responders and others who have selflessly served during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team launched the Hats Off to Our Heroes Fund on Monday, two days before it will reveal the new uniforms. The Browns said the team will commit 100 percent of the proceeds “for a significant period of time” to the fund.
“When finalizing our uniform announcement, we realized we had an incredible opportunity to further our support of heroes battling COVID-19 on the front lines for our entire community,” executive vice president JW Johnson said. “We hope the excitement surrounding the new uniforms can help make a significant impact through the Hats Off to Our Heroes Fund, and we greatly appreciate the support from our fans, retail partners and team to make this special way to give back to those leaders possible.”
This is the second time in four years the Browns have changed uniforms. The new ones are expected to embrace concepts from previous versions. The team is not expected to make any major changes to its iconic orange logo-less helmet.
Premier League club Tottenham has reversed a decision to use government money to fund some staff salaries during the coronavirus pandemic.
The north London club faced two weeks of criticism for deciding to use the government’s job retention scheme.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says “the criticism the club has received over the last week has been felt all the more keenly because of our track record of good works and our huge sense of responsibility to care for those that rely on us.”
Staff put on furlough during the pandemic receive 80% of their salaries up to a maximum of 2,500 pounds ($3,000) per month from the government. And Tottenham had said non-playing staff not being furloughed would have their pay cut 20%.
But Levy now says “in the context of revised budgets and cost cutting” all non-playing staff will remain on full pay in April and May with only the board having salaries reduced.
The Premier League season has been suspended for more than a month with no date set for its resumption.
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are among 12 players confirmed to play in the virtual Madrid Open tennis tournament this month.
David Goffin, John Isner, Karen Khachanov, Eugenie Bouchard, Kristina Mladenovic and Kiki Bertens will also participate from their homes in the April 27-30 online competition that is expected to be broadcast live on TV and social media channels.
Khachanov says “this initiative is interesting and it will bring back some competition in our sport. I’m looking forward to challenge my fellow players and show my skills to the tennis fans around the world.”
There will be 150,000 euros ($164,000) distributed in prize money for each of the men’s and women’s events. The winners then decide how much they want to donate to tennis players who are having a hard time financially without any tournaments to play.
Another 50,000 euros ($55,000) will be donated to reduce the social impact of the pandemic.
Each draw is expected to have 16 players competing.
The Madrid Open was one of more than 30 professional tournaments canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It had been scheduled for May 1-10.
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