This article was originally published on June 19th, 2020.
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.
Soccer action I support -
Following a three-month hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League returned this week with behind closed doors games, as teams aim to complete the season.
Ahead of the restart, the league has announced that teams will be supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and paying tribute to the NHS by sporting a logo of each on their jerseys. Players also had the names on the back of their shirts replaced with the words “Black Lives Matter,” in support of the fight against racial injustice.
"We, the Players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their color or creed. This symbol is a sign of unity from all players, all staff, all clubs, all match officials and the Premier League," the players said in a statement.
Women's soccer news I am excited for -
The NWSL is currently in expansion talks to add a team based in Los Angeles, according to The Athletic.
The plan to add a Los Angeles team has not been finalized, though WFC LA Inc. has been established as a limited liability company, in Delaware. Entrepreneur Julie Uhrman (@juhrman) is listed as the company's CEO & president, though the expansion team's ownership group will reportedly involve "multiple other parties."
“We’re committed to growing our league and expanding our reach into every region in the country,” a spokesperson for the NWSL said in a statement. “We continue to have meaningful discussions with a number of potential expansion markets and look forward to sharing more when it’s the appropriate time.”
Tennis story I am following -
This week the U.S. Tennis Association confirmed that the U.S. Open will go ahead in New York this summer.
There has already been strong public opposition to staging the U.S. Open from Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) and Nick Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios), and reticence from Rafael Nadal (@RafaelNadal), Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep).
However, the biggest reaction came from world number one Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott), who described USTA's initial decision to scrap the wheelchair events as "disgusting discrimination". Alcott's outcry has led to the USTA to reverse its decision and will now be offering to stage wheelchair events.
"The Association should have communicated directly, and worked in a collaborative manner with the wheelchair athletes when developing the plan for the 2020 US Open, as it had done with both the ATP and WTA," the USTA said in a statement.
"The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF [International Tennis Federation] to explore a number of potential scenarios for the wheelchair competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition.
"The USTA expects to gather player feedback on their perspective and work with the ITF to finalize an approach to the 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition."
Athletics news I am excited by -
The Munich 2022 European Championships will feature four new sports. Beach volleyball, canoe sprint, sport climbing, and table tennis will all be added to the quadrennial event.
The four new additions come after the Munich City council approved the event’s expansion to nine sports, up from the original seven that featured at the inaugural edition in Glasgow and Berlin in 2018.
Swimming events will not be included, after the European Swimming Federation (LEN) declined to feature in 2022 after determining that facilities in Munich were "not sufficient”, with the continental body instead awarding its flagship event to Rome.
“Exactly 50 years after the 1972 Olympics, a top-class, vibrant and diverse sporting spectacle will once again take place in Munich,” said Dieter Reiter, Lord Mayor of the City of Munich. “I am already looking forward to exciting, fair competitions in nine sports.”
Baseball story I learned about -
This week I learned the story of'The Curse of the Colonel'. The story starts with Japanese baseball club the Hanshin Tigers, who won the 1985 Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the country's highest level baseball.
Following the team's final victory, fans gathered on the Ebisubashi Bridge in Osaka. Following long-standing tradition after each of the team's players' names are called a fan who bore some resemblance to the player would jump headlong into the Dotonbori River. This worked well until the name of first baseman Randy Bass, an American, was shouted out.
As Bass did not have a doppelganger in the crowd, fans got creative and decided to abduct a statue of fast-food mascot Colonel Sanders from a nearby KFC, and throw it into the river.
The statue disappeared for over thirty years, with some fans claiming that the Colonel had cursed the team, as the team failed to find any success during this time.
Fans had some hope when, in 2009, much of the statue was found and fished from the river. The statue was missing an arm and the Colonel's glasses, though, and fans worry that until the statue is made whole again, they won't win another championship.
Have a wonderful weekend, all!