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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.

Baseball news I am learning about -

The MLB announced that it will add both the Frontier League and the American Association as designated Partner Leagues. The two independent baseball leagues will join the Atlantic League in MLB’s attempt to broaden its reach across baseball in the U.S. and Canada.

The two leagues will collaborate with MLB on, “initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities throughout the United States and Canada,” according to an MLB press release.

The full details of what MLB’s agreement with the Frontier League and American Association entails remain unreleased, the American Association publicly stated it will not be Rob Manfred’s experimental lab.

These Partner League associations come on the heels of MLB’s expiring agreement with the affiliated National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. The NAPBL, more commonly known as Minor League Baseball, is facing contraction as MLB negotiates a new Professional Baseball Agreement. The proposed changes include cutting 40 teams, as well as moving their offices from Florida to New York. If the minor leagues significantly consolidate, these Partner Leagues could be a haven for the hundreds of ballplayers suddenly looking for a team to call home.

Campaign I am following -

The Big Step lead a walking campaign from Rangers' Ibrox Stadium to Celtic Park to support the end of all gambling sponsorship, advertising, and promotion in Scottish soccer.

The campaign is being led by Martin Paterson, a recovering gambling addict from Glasgow who now runs the campaign said “Scottish football is addicted to gambling industry money – nowhere more obviously than in the ridiculous levels of gambling advertising that covers our stadiums, our kits, and our screens. Children don’t get the dangers but all they see is the brand, and the gambling companies know it. I’m doing The Big Step because I love football – but I can’t watch it anymore.

“Every time I turn on the TV, I see less and less sport and more and more gambling ads. It needs to stop – now.

“Every problem gambler starts off with the occasional flutter and by the time you’re looking for a cure, it’s often too late.

“If you’re struggling with your gambling, it’s not your fault –speak to someone. That’s the first Big Step.”

A spokesman for the walk said, "Young people make up a significant percentage of the audience of the Scottish Premiership football and are being exposed to gambling through shirt sponsorship, league sponsorship, pitch side advertising, TV broadcast advertising, social media coverage, and endorsements by footballers.

"This exposure is proven to increase brand recall and brand recognition in children as young as six years old, normalizing gambling as a part of football.

"Many of these placement, like gambling advertising on sports shirts, are not in scope of the 'whistle to whistle' ban run by the gambling industry – and so are clearly on view during every game sponsored.

"This event hopes to draw attention to the suicide risk of gambling disorder, while promoting the development of an independent NHS treatment system in Scotland – modelled on the NHS Northern Gambling Service in England."

An SPFL spokesman responded tot the campaign stating “For many fans, having a bet on the game is part of their enjoyment of the sport. Indeed, since the introduction of the football pools, betting has long been closely associated with our game and has provided much-needed income to football for many decades.

“Our clubs and sponsors actively promote responsible gambling, which the SPFL fully supports, and we continue to engage regularly with Gamble Aware.”

Rugby news I am following -

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) voted to move its four franchises competing in the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby into an expanded Pro16 competition.

The national governing body has opted to switch the Bulls, Lions, Sharks, and Stormers in a decision which would see the current Pro14, which also features rugby union sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales, grow by two teams.

Jurie Roux, the SARU chief executive, said the meeting and options had been presented as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the unilateral decision by the New Zealand Rugby Union to proceed with a domestic or trans-Tasman competition, which sidelines the South African sides and the Argentine Jaguares.

"Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere," said Roux.

Soccer story I am paying attention to -

Landon Donovan (@landondonovan) manager and executive vice-president of San Diego Loyal, said his team"would not stand" for bigotry. The comments coming after the team left the field in protest after an alleged homophobic comment was aimed at midfielder Collin Martin (@martcw12), who is gay.

An opposition player from Phoenix Rising was accused of making the comment just before half-time during their USL Championship game. Loyal players returned after the break but walked off when the referee blew his whistle, forfeiting a match they were leading 3-1 and ending their chances of reaching the play-offs.

San Diego also forfeited a match against LA Galaxy II last week after an alleged racial slur was aimed at midfielder Elijah Martin. The player accused of making the comment has since been let go by Galaxy.

Donovan said, "We went through a really hard incident last week in the LA match and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL, that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don't belong in our game."

"I lost it because I know what this team has gone through.

"I know how hard it was for them to even take the field tonight given everything that happened, and then for it to happen again a week later was just devastating for me.

Donovan said, despite players wanting to continue, the team decided that if the opponent who was alleged to have made the homophobic comment was not removed by either the referee, or by his club, they would not play.

"If they're not willing to act, then we have to act," he added.

"Our guys, to their immense credit, said we were not going to stand for this. They were very clear in that moment that they were giving up all hopes of making the playoffs, even though they were beating one of the best teams in the league.

"They said it doesn't matter. There are things more important in life and we have to stick up for what we believe in.

"I have tremendous pride in this group and this organization."

In a statement, the USL Championship said it was aware of the allegation and an investigation was underway.

"Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches," it added. Phoenix Rising stated that the player who was alleged to have made the homophobic comment "vehemently denied" the allegations.

Football news I am following -

The XFL is planning to make its return in the spring of 2022, the start-up league’s new co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed.

Garcia recently said that the new owners were considering a bubble environment for a potential 2021 return in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, the extra preparation time is likely to prove beneficial in the attempts to make the third iteration of the XFL a success.

It is not known whether there will be a shakeup from the set of teams that were part of the prior intended XFL restart, either in number or geographic location, in this now third iteration under Johnson and Garcia.

“The opportunity in front of us, with our new ownership, is simply too big to rush back,” said XFL President & COO Jeffrey Pollack. “We want to do this properly with care and thought for everyone who loves football, especially our players, coaches, partners and fans.”

Have a wonderful weekend, all!



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