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  • Shauna Rush


Here is this week's dose of “5-Point Friday”. A weekly round-up of the sports news and stories that I find most interesting and enjoyable.

New sports league I am excited for -

This weekend will see Athletes Unlimited kick-off its inaugural softball season. The league's new model will see an innovative new scoring system built around players and designed to crown an individual champion, rather than a team champion.

The league will feature 56 of the sports best players, including many from the U.S. Olympic softball team. One major difference Athletes Unlimited introduces is the lack of set team rosters.

Instead, the four highest scorers in a given week become the captains for the following week. These team captain's then draft their team for the upcoming week's games.

The scoring system can be seen in the video below:

Lawsuit I am following -

The Big Ten’s decision to cancel the fall football season has now become a legal controversy.

On Thursday, eight Nebraska football players filed a complaint in a Nebraska trial court arguing that the cancellation unlawfully interferes with their business expectations. The players seek a restraining order that would invalidate the Big Ten’s decision. They maintain the decision was “arbitrary and capricious” and premised on “flawed” data concerning the risk of COVID-19 to football players.

The Big Ten, which was the first major conference to announce it wasn’t playing fall football, issued a statement describing the players’ lawsuit as meritless. “We share the disappointment that some student-athletes and their families are feeling. However, this lawsuit has no merit, and we will defend the decision to protect all student-athletes as we navigate through this global pandemic. We are actively considering options to get back to competition and look forward to doing so when it is safe to play,” the conference said.

The players nonetheless hope to convince the assigned judge that they have standing. A key reason is how the cancellation impacts their careers. This is also speculative: The players are students, not professionals, and their odds of becoming professional football players is uncertain. The players would have a more compelling argument for standing if they could lose their university scholarships on account of canceled games. Their scholarships, however, remain intact.

Another lawsuit I am following -

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) filed a lawsuit against sportswear brand Under Armour, after the early termination of the sponsorship of its sports teams.

UCLA is claiming upwards of $200m for “breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel.”

In 2017, a 15-year deal worth $280m between the two organizations took effect. At the time, the deal represented the most lucrative apparel sponsorship contract in college sports history, but, in June 2020 Under Armour informed UCLA of its wish to terminate the contract.

The brand cited three grounds for termination:

  • The force majeure clause in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic;

  • That the UCLA baseball team had completed fewer than 50% of its games last season, a requirement for one of its core teams;

  • and that UCLA had failed “to take reasonably appropriate action(s)” after the arrest and indictment of men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo in connection with the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal.

UCLA rejected all three claims in its lawsuit, saying that “nothing about Covid-19 made it ‘impossible or impracticable’ for Under Armour to meet its obligations under the agreement.”

Mary Osaka, the university’s vice chancellor for strategic communications, said “It is unfortunate that Under Armour is opportunistically using the global pandemic to try to walk away from a binding agreement it made in 2016 but no longer likes.”

NFL story I am learning about -

The Kansas City Chiefs announced that fans will no longer be allowed to wear ceremonial headdresses and Native American-style face paint in the team's Arrowhead Stadium.

"While we have discouraged fans from wearing headdresses for several years, effective immediately," the NFL team said in a statement.

The Chiefs said the ban was a result of discussions with "a group of local leaders from diverse American Indian backgrounds and experiences" over the past six years.

Those conversations were held in an effort "to gain a better understanding of the issues facing American Indian communities in our region," the team said.

The team's leadership announced that it is also reviewing the fans' use of the controversial tomahawk chop, as well as the area within the stadium known as "Drum Deck," where people hit a giant, native-style drum embellished with the team's logo to open each game.

Movement which I support -

What began as the Milwaukee Bucks' decision to boycott their playoff game following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the team's home state cascaded into a wave of similar protests across the American sports scene by Wednesday night.

Soon after the Wisconsin-based team decided to not play, the NBA announced it would postpone Game 5 of three different playoff series Bucks vs Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers.

Within hours, three WNBA, five MLS, and three MLB games were called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks' players.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Bucks players' said they are "calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable."

"The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings," they said in a statement. "Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball."

They called on the Wisconsin Legislature to "reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform." They also encouraged people "to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3."

Have a wonderful weekend, all!



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