Women’s Tennis Tournaments Suspended in China Over Peng Shuai Censorship

Steve Simon, the chairman and CEO of the women’s professional tennis tour, announced Wednesday that all Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) events occuring in China would be suspended due to the ongoing concerns over the country censoring her following Peng accusing a former government official of sexual assault.

In the statement, Simon expresses his doubts over claims that Peng is free, safe, and not being “censored or coerced, or intimidated” despite knowing her location. The chairman also explained that allowing sexual assault to go unpunished, it would be setting both the organization and equality back.

“None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback. I will not and cannot let that happen to the WTA and its players.”

“Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022,” Simon said, who called for a complete and transparent investigation into the allegations. Simon gave no indications as to how long the suspension would last.

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The decision will have some costly ramifications. As Yahoo! Sports notes, the WTA tournaments generate tens of millions of dollars annually, while Shenzhen, China’s bid for the WTA Final included a promise to double the prize money from $7 million to $14 million. In 2019, WTA tournaments accounted for $30 million total in prize money.

The 35-year-old Peng has enjoyed quite of bit of success throughout her career, winning two singles and 23 doubles at major events such as the Wimbledon Championship, US Open, and French Open. Peng, who once ranked #1 in the world, was also a member of China’s women’s tennis teams in both the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Peng brought the matter to the forefront back on Nov. 2, when she made a social media posting on Weibo — a Chinese platform — about former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli. Peng claimed he forced her to have sex three years ago, despite several refusals. She also stated they had sex several years ago. The post was taken down by Chinese authorities within 30 minutes, and Peng suddenly disappeared from the public eye.

Peng would later reappear in a video and photos posted by state-run social media on Nov. 20, at a youth tennis tournament in Beijing. Despite the country’s actions to stop the bleeding, neither the Chinese government nor Zhang, 75, have commented on the allegations. An email supposedly sent by Peng to Simon was released by Chinese media, but Simon stated he doubted the authenticity and that it only raised further questions in regards to Peng’s status and safety.

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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach held a video conference with Peng on Nov. 21, and said that while she is “safe and well,” she would “like to have her privacy respected at this time.” The IOC also held a second video conference with Peng on Thursday, and once again stated her wellbeing and safety. No transcripts or video from either conference have been presented.

Despite the IOC’s claim, many are still suspicious given the circumstances. According to The Associated Press, the European Union said it wants China to give “verifiable proof” that Peng is safe.

Beijing is set to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics in January, which has also been a source of controversy. Numerous protests have occurred, petitioning countries, sponsors, and athletes to boycott the Olympics due to China’s treatment of Uyghur and Kazakh Muslims, in addition to its “geopolitical bullying.”

Bryce Harper, Shohei Ohtani Named NL, AL MVPs

Wrapping up their awards season, Major League Baseball announced the league’s two most valuable players Thursday. Philadelphia Phillies’ right fielder Bryce Harper took home the National League MVP with 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 voting points, while Los Angeles Angels’ designated hitter and starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani came away with the American League MVP unanimously (420 voting points).

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finished behind Ohtani in the AL MVP voting with 29 out of 30 second-place votes and 269 voting points. The NL MVP race was much tighter, with Juan Soto finishing second with six first-place votes (274 voting points) and Fernando Tatis Jr. in third with two first-place votes (244 voting points). Despite their impressive campaigns, neither winner’s team made the postseason.

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In 141 games, Harper had a .309 batting average with 35 home runs, 84 RBI, 101 runs, 100 walks, and a 6.6 fWAR. His doubles (42), SLG (.615), OPS (1.044), and OPS+ (179) all led the league. This is the second time the six-time All-Star has won MVP, with his first coming back in 2015.

Harper joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Barry Bonds as the only outfielders in MLB history to have at least 100 walks, 100 runs, 40 doubles, and 35 home runs in a single season.

Harper, 29, was named the NL Hank Aaron Award winner as well, the second of his career. Harper’s production is a sigh of relief for Philadelphia fans who were worried the superstar would underwhelm after signing a 13-year, $330 million deal in 2019 – which at the time was the highest contract a professional athlete ever received.

An emotional Harper discussed his hard-earned victory, explaining how he had to overcome a gruesome injury when he was hit in the face with a 97 mph pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals back on April 28.

“This year was tough. It started out [with me] getting hit in the face. It was definitely a tough couple days for me, tough couple of weeks for me trying to get back. My teammates were incredible through the whole process of trying to get me back.”

A highly-touted two-way prospect coming out of Japan, Ohtani signed with the Angels back in 2017. While he demonstrated his potential and production throughout his first three seasons, injuries ultimately held him back as he played in just 254 games out of a possible 486. In 2021, Ohtani finally shook off his injury proneness and put it all together for an utterly outstanding performance.

In 155 games, Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs — third-most in the league — , 100 RBI, 103 runs, 96 walks, and 26 stolen bases. Ohtani also shined on the mound, starting 23 games while going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 156 strikeouts, and 1.090 WHIP. The 27-year-old also sported a league-leading 9.1 bWAR.

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Ohtani is the first Japanese-born player to win the AL MVP since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001. After being named the first two-way All-Star in MLB History, Ohtani was presented with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. It’s the first time commissioner Rob Manfred has selected a recipient since taking the role in 2015.

For Major League Baseball, Ohtani’s emergence was very much needed. The sport’s inability to properly market its biggest stars has been well-documented for quite some time, and Ohtani offers the ability to catch the attention of both younger and global audiences.

Among the other major MLB award winners include Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash as the NL and Al Managers of the Year, respectively; Jonathon India and Randy Arozarena as the NL and AL Rookies of the Year; and Corbin Burnes and Robbie Ray as the NL and AL Cy Young winners.

Baseball Field

As Major League Baseball Continues To Negotiate A New CBA, Is A Lockout On The Horizon?

Despite the Atlanta Braves capping off the 2021 season with a World Series victory, the games are just beginning for Major League Baseball. On Dec. 2, the collective bargaining agreement — frequently referred to as the CBA — is set to expire, and many believe the league will be heading to its first stoppage in 26 years.

According to the Associated Press’ Ronald Blum, while negotiations between MLB owners and the MLB Players’ Association (MLBPA) have been taking place since last spring, each side believes the other has not made a proposal that would bring in a new CBA contract by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1.

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The stoppage would come at a crucial time, as free agents — which include stars such as Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, and Max Scherzer — would be left in a flux, and their agents aren’t quite sure what to expect. Blum explained MLB could start a signing freeze at the beginning of the lockout, or let the marketplace stop on its own.

Among the changes teams have suggested in proposals leading up to now include getting rid of salary arbitration — the yearly process where clubs and players negotiate a higher or lower salary based on recent comparable players and contracts — and allowing players to hit free agency after the age of 29 1/2, instead of after six years of service.

Meanwhile, propositions made by players include establishing mechanisms — such as a modified draft order and a revenue sharing system — that prevent teams from “tanking,” changing the way service time is calculated, increasing the minimum major league salary (which currently sits at $570,500), and changing the years required for arbitration eligibility from three to two.

Players also want payrolls to be taxed over $210 million while including surtaxes, and have rejected a payroll floor over the fear of a salary cap introduction. Blum notes that management’s proposal for the threshold to be lowered to $180 million could be a gridlock in many free agent negotiations.

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While the lockout could cause chaos in free agency, there isn’t any concern that games could be missed in either spring training or the regular season, which is still six months away. However, depending on how long the lockout lasts, teams could be forced to hurry up their typical offseason schedules and procedures.

In 2021, the average player salary was $4.17 million, and is projected to be down around $3.7 million on opening day of 2022. Meanwhile, the average MLB team’s payroll in 2021 was $99,423,297.

MLB hasn’t had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike, when the last 50 games of the regular season and the postseason were cancelled – however, there have been close calls when it’s come to CBA agreements deadlines.

Fans have also questioned MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s job security as the league heads towards a likely freeze. CBS Sports’ Dayn Perry explains that the only way Manfred — just the 10th MLB commissioner ever – could lose the role is if he loses money for owners.

While highly unlikely, this could happen through multiple situations, such as “failing to maintain or carve out new economic territory” during CBA negotiations or in a new agreement.

Las Vegas Raiders Release Wide Receiver Henry Ruggs III, Who Faces Felonies After Fatal DUI Crash

The Las Vegas Raiders have announced the release of wide receiver Henry Ruggs III following a DUI car crash in Las Vegas that resulted in the death of a woman and her dog.

Ruggs, 22, was driving his Chevrolet Corvette 156 MPH seconds before he slammed into a Toyota RAV4 at 127 MPH around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday. The 23-year-old driver of the Toyata, Tina Tintor, deceased at the scene, along with her dog.

Officials said that both the Chevrolet and the RAV4 rolled over 500 feet after the impact, after which the RAV4 caught fire. Tintor was still alive after the crash as bystanders and first responders attempted initial rescue efforts. Unfortunately, they were to no avail as the ongoing flames killed Tintor.

Rugg’s BAC during the crash was at .161, more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit. Las Vegas Police originally stated Ruggs showed signs of impairment at the crash, where he refused to take a sobriety test. Ruggs and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington — who was in the car at the time of the crash — were transported to a hospital where they were treated for serious injuries.

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Las Vegas expressed their sadness of the situation. “We are devastated by the loss of life and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family,” the team said in a statement on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. The NFL also relayed their thoughts and prayers through a spokesman.

Police also found a loaded gun in the Chevrolet during the investigation of the crash. Ruggs was released from the hospital and taken to jail later on Tuesday ahead of his court appearance on Wednesday, where bail was set at $150,000 along with the highest level of electronic monitoring in the event of release. Ruggs is now facing felony charges of a DUI causing death and reckless driving.

In Nevada, the possible penalties for a substantial injury or death caused by a DUI includes a two-to-20 year prison sentence — with no probation — and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Sentences for reckless driving includes a possible one-to-six years sentencing with probation.

According to Bleacher Report, Clerk County District Attorney Steve Wolfson stated that Ruggs could face more additional charges, such as a second DUI felony for causing serious injuries to his girlfriend.

Additionally, anyone with a BAC of 0.08% or higher who is in possession of a firearm is susceptible to a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of sentencing, along with fines.

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Visible in the courtroom, Ruggs was shown to be in a wheelchair while wearing a neck brace, and has bruises present throughout his face. The wide receiver was released by the team late Tuesday evening. The Raiders — along with brands such as Nike — have erased any possible evidence of Ruggs from their online shops, taking down jerseys, t-shirts, and other memorabilia with his name and likeness.

Ruggs, the 12th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, had played in seven games for Las Vegas this season, catching 24 receptions for 469 yards and two touchdowns. In his first two seasons, the former Alabama player totaled 50 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns.

Throughout his games, after big plays and touchdowns, Ruggs would pray and throw up hand signals to honor his friend, Rod Scott, who died in a car accident in 2016.

Hockey Stadium

Chicago Blackhawks Owner Wants Sex Offender Off Cup Following Abuse Scandal Report

Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz has reached out to the Hockey Hall of Fame through a letter, asking for them to remove former video coach Brad Aldrich’s name off of the Stanley Cup due to his role in the Blackhawk’s 2010 sexual abuse scandal.

In the letter, which was obtained by ESPN, Wirtz “asks the Hall to ‘consider x-ing out’ Aldrich’s name because ‘while nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems wrong.'”

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Wirtz asked for the removal out of respect for every Blackhawks player that “sacrificed to earn their place in history,” while also noting that having Aldrich remain on the trophy would go against Chicago’s moral beliefs.

In his letter, Wirtz recalled that the NHL has previously removed names from the Stanley Cup – specifically in the case of former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington, who put his father’s name on the trophy despite having no connection with the team or their victory.

The stem of this scandal goes back over a decade ago to 2010, when the 52-win Blackhawks were enjoying a playoff run that would result in their first Stanley Cup victory since 1960-61. That May, during the Western Conference finals, former Chicago center Kyle Beach and Aldrich “engaged in a sexual encounter,” that Beach claimed was non-consensual. Aldrich also told Beach he would never play in the NHL or “walk again” if he didn’t enjoy the encounter.

Following this, Beach confided the assault to his skills coach, who then alerted higher-ups. In a meeting that consisted of head coach Joel Quennville, general manager Stan Bowman, president John McDonough, executive vice president Jay Blunk, and others, the team decided to brush off the incident until a later time in order to focus on the championship push and limit distractions.

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After their championship, Aldrich was given a forced resignation, but still received severance and a championship ring. Years later, Aldrich would go on to commit additional sexual assaults at new positions, and eventually faced jail time.

In May 2021, Beach — who was known up until a few days ago as “John Doe 1” — filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks for failing to punish Aldrich for his actions back in 2010. The independent investigation that followed the lawsuit, which had its 107-page report released on Oct. 26, found that the Blackhawks disregarded their sexual harassment policy by waiting three weeks before taking action.

After revealing he was the John Doe, Beach said he felt he “didn’t exist” after the Blackhawks’ inactions. “To be honest, I was scared mostly,” Beach said. “I was fearful. I had my career threatened,” noting he felt dark and alone.

However, Beach has thankfully been able to express his happiness now that his story is finally out to the public. He has also urged others who have been victims of sexual abuse to come forward and tell their own accounts.

“I know I’m not the only one, male or female. And I buried this for 10 years, 11 years. And it’s destroyed me from the inside out. And I want everybody to know in the sports world and in the world that you’re not alone. That if these things happen to you, you need to speak up.”

The scandal, where immediate action could have prevented further incidents, has sent outrage, sadness and shockwaves throughout the NHL. Bowman and senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac both stepped down on Tuesday.

Following a meeting with Bettman on Thursday, Quennville resigned from his position as the Florida Panthers’ head coach. The NHL also fined Chicago $2 million, although the extent of the punishment has been heavily criticized by fans and media.


Congress Seeks Documents, Reports From NFL’s Investigation Into Washington Football Team

In a five-page letter sent to National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell, two Democrats have demanded documents and information from the investigation into Washington Football Team’s (WFT) “hostile work environment” be turned over to Congress.

The letter, which asks for the information to be given by Nov. 4, was sent by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL.). The two Democrats expressed their concerns about how the league handled the investigation, along with the usage of non-disclosure agreements in the matter.

“We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL’s handling of this matter. In addition, we are deeply troubled by the reported use of non-disclosure agreements to potentially conceal inappropriate behavior.”

Maloney and Krishnamoorthi also worry that how the NFL preceded in dealing with such serious wrongdoings involving bigotry, racism, and sexism could set “troubling precedents” for other workplaces.

As the letter notes, there has been no written report about the NFL’s year-long investigation on the WFT workplace and management – despite other high-profile NFL probes having been written in the past. Additionally, not all of the findings have been released.

The corporate giant of the sports world looks ready to stand its ground, however. ESPN reported that an NFL spokesman stated the league does not plan to re-open the investigation, nor will it release any of the 650,000 emails it collected.

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In addition to the 650,000 emails collected, the NFL also interviewed more than 150 people. In September 2020, the NFL reached an agreement with WFT to release employees or former employees from non-disclosure agreements in order to talk with investigators.

According to ESPN, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email that the league shares Maloney’s concerns about keeping workplaces free of harassment, and is looking forward to speaking with her office.

The initial investigation stemmed from allegations of the WFT’s conduct, made by the team cheerleaders, that The Washington Post reported on in 2020. Among the harassing acts include emails passed around that showed footage of cheerleaders’ breasts and pubic areas from behind the scenes of a swimsuit photo shoot.

The video was passed around from Jon Gruden — who was an analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” at the time — to then-general manager Bruce Allen, and then allegedly to WFT owner Dan Snyder – who denies not just receiving the offensive footage, but leaking it in order to put the blame on Allen.

In what was suppose to be a WFT-focused investigation, Gruden walked away the biggest loser – albeit rightfully so. The collected emails showed Gruden used homophobic and racial language. Gruden claimed the NFL pressured then-Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher into drafting “q***rs” by taking Michael Sam in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Gruden also called Goodell a “clueless anti-football p***y,” while joking NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith has “lips the size of michellin tires” – which many argue is a racial trope. After the leaks released, Gruden resigned from his position as Raiders head coach, which he held since 2018.

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Following the NFL’s investigation, WFT was fined $10 million — with the money planned to be used for organizations that build “character education, anti-bullying, and healthy relationships – while Snyder’s wife, Tanya, was named co-CEO and took over day-to-day duties. The Synders, along with other executives, were required to take part in workplace conduct training.

In recent days, WFT has made more and more curious actions that seem to suggest the team is doing everything it can to keep the scandal out of discussion. Three days before their game on Oct. 17, the team announced it would be retiring the number of Sean Taylor, who prematurely passed away in 2007.

Many heavily criticized WFT’s hastily-announced retirement of a fan-favorite, along with the questionable celebrations that were done. WFT team president Jason Wright issued an apology on the retirement execution afterwards.

Basketball going into Net

Kyrie Irving Continues His Stance Against The COVID-19 Vaccine As Nets Forbid Him From Playing

As the NBA season gets ready to kick off tonight, one of its biggest stars has grabbed the spotlight – but for all the wrong reasons. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, which could have severe consequences.

Irving took to Instagram Live last Wednesday night, stating that he’s unvaccinated, has no plans to retire, and claims he was promised a vaccine exemption from the NBA. “I’m not going to be used as a person in this agenda,” Irving said. “This is my life, I get to do whatever I want.”

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Irving did clarify multiple times during the stream that this has nothing to do with his team or teammates, but rather “what’s going on in the world.” Irving also stressed that this situation is “bigger than basketball.”

Irving isn’t the only NBA star who has spoken out against receiving a vaccination. Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins had been strongly opposed, saying in March that he would have to be forced and that he applied for religious exemption, which was denied. Wiggins eventually got the shot, although he said it was “not something I wanted to do.”

Nets’ general manager Sean Marks released a statement on Irving, saying that while the player has a right to his own choice regarding the vaccination, he will not be eligible to play for the Brooklyn Nets as long as he remains a “part-time” player.

Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant. Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.

As CBS Sports notes, while the Nets could have played Irving in road games, they opted otherwise in order to show they want his full availability. Under New York City’s current vaccine mandate — which requires at least one dose in order to use indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment — Irving would be unable to play in home games at the Barclays Center.

In regards to whether the NBA was involved in the decision or whether the team will face disapproval from the NBA Player’s Association, Marks said that all parties that “needed to be consulted on this, were” and that conversations with Irving went “good.”

Irving would also stand to lose money for missing games. Irving signed a four-year, $136 million contract with the Nets in 2019. In 2021-22, Irving is set to earn a salary of $34,916,200, all of which is guaranteed. However, the star hasn’t showed any concern for possible financial losses. “It’s not always about the money baby,” Irving said in his livestream. “It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really wanna lose money?”

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The seven-time NBA All-Star’s absence will clearly effect the team. The Nets are in win-now mode, and will spend about $110 million total on three players this year alone – Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. “We want him here for the whole thing,” Durant said regarding Irving. “We want him here for games, home games, practices, away games, shootarounds, all of it, so hopefully we figure this thing out.”

This is just the latest controversial story in the 29-year-old’s career. Back in 2018, Irving commented that the Earth wasn’t round, but rather flat. He later apologized for his statements and said he does “research on both sides.”

According to ESPN, the NBA reached a 95% total vaccination among its around-500 players. This rate also includes players who have received just one dose. As part of the league’s COVID-19 protocols, unvaccinated players will have to undergo daily testing. However, both vaccinated and unvaccinated players will be required to wear masks in facilities and when traveling.

Urban Meyer Continues Apologies For Scandalous Footage As Situation Reaches “Crisis Point”

Following the footage and photos of Urban Meyer getting very intimate with a young woman — who wasn’t his wife — at his restaurant in Ohio on Friday, the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach has continued to apologize in his attempts to mend the relationship between him, the locker room, and the fans.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Meyer addressed his team Wednesday morning to “express remorse and responsibility for his actions over the weekend.” NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala gave additional details, reporting that Meyer said he only cares about two things: his family (specifically his wife, Shelly) and his players, and that he “embarrassed them both.”

Meyer previously stated on Monday that it his actions were “just stupid” and that he “should not have put himself in that kind of position.”

However, according to some insiders, the attempts may be too little, too late. Sports Illustrated’s Mike Silver tweeted Tuesday that the situation has reached a “crisis point,” with one Jaguars player suggesting that Meyer has lost all credibility.

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Silver reported that Jaguars players were bothered by Meyer’s cancellation of a team meeting Monday, instead opting to meet and apologize with “position groups individually.” Players also felt that he “was too scared.”

Players additionally claim that Meyer tried to portray the situation in a different and incorrect angle by saying the woman was “random” and just dancing there, which the team laughed about afterwards.

One player didn’t mince words: “It’s bad. I don’t know how he’s gonna function.”

Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan released a statement on Tuesday regarding his head coach’s actions, noting that while he believes Meyer will have to regain both his and the team’s trust, he believes that Meyer’s apologies are genuine.

“I have addressed this matter with Urban. Specifics of our conversation will be held in confidence. What I will say is his conduct last weekend was inexcusable. I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now, he must regain our trust and respect. That will require a personal commitment from Urban to everyone who supports, represents or plays for our team. I am confident he will deliver.”

This scandal comes at a pivotal time in the season for both Meyer and Jacksonville. A day prior to Meyer’s incident, the Jaguars suffered a 24-21 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. That loss dropped them to 0-4 on the season, which has only fueled arguments that Meyer isn’t committed enough to Jacksonville.

Meyer’s tenure with Jacksonville has been tumultuous from the start. As detailed by Pro Football Focus’ Ari Meirov, Meyer faced fierce criticism for his comments and strategies during the NFL draft. Meyer also hired Chris Doyle, who was accused of bullying and making racist remarks during his time at Iowa University, as Jacksonville’s director of sports performance. Doyle later resigned following the inevitable backlash.

Meyer’s approach to training camp was heavily questioned, as he had quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Trevor Lawrence (the first-overall pick in the 2021 draft) split important first-team reps despite the obvious fact that Lawrence would be starting. Minshew was later traded, creating even more confusion about Meyer’s methods.

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Lastly, Meyer openly told reporters that the Jaguars cut players based on vaccine status, which the NFL Players Association opened an investigation on.

As the past indicates, many NFL head coaches who have primarily coached in college tend to be much more flighty than most. Nick Sabin and Bobby Petino are two prime examples, and many believe that Meyer could be the next, especially now that USC’s head coaching spot has opened up.

Regardless of where Meyer goes, it’s hard to imagine his reputation not being dealt heavy damage. Jacksonville will look to get their first win of the season this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, but the result will likely — and unfortunately — be overshadowed by Meyer’s continued skid.

Covid Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated LA County Children Linked To School Sports

Health officials in Los Angeles County are reporting an increased spread of Covid-19 among unvaccinated children. As of right now, the officials are mainly connecting the increase to the start of school sports.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Health Director, held a media briefing last week in which she called the initial increases in infections among unvaccinated children “somewhat sobering.” 

“While coronavirus case rates amongst almost all other age groups in the county declined in recent weeks, cases among unvaccinated children rose from 73 per 100,000 in May to 307 cases per 100,000 by August 14th.”

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“Though it’s still low, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated children is also much higher than the virtually nonexistent hospitalizations among vaccinated children. We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate, and manage them as they happen,” Ferrer said.

Between August 16th and August 22nd there were 3,186 new Covid cases reported at K-12 schools, according to the county health department. A large portion of those cases have come from the LA Unified School District, where children are required to be tested weekly. 

LA County has been reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks a week, and each outbreak impacts dozens of students. Ferrer claims that of the 14 school outbreaks the county saw this month about half could be directly tied to school sports. 

Between July 30th and August 20th there were nine different outbreaks among high school dance and cheerleading teams that involved 131 students. Ferrer says that these outbreaks were tied to multi-day indoor camps “which took place outside L.A. County and brought together students from different schools that each abided by different masking policies,” she added.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that LA County cancel all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, or hold them virtually. However, LA County is seeming to ignore that advice.

As of right now, LA County is relying on masking, quarantine, and testing policies in its schools among students and faculty. Ferrer did say that the county would be changing its guidance to require a negative Covid-19 test from all athletes and staff members within 72 hours of competition. 

“Masks are also required for all participants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And the county has also been encouraging schools to move practices and games outdoors whenever feasible, and reduce capacity indoors. I do join with you in wishing that it was a lot simpler, and that rules didn’t need to change, but the virus has changed, and we all need some flexibility to adapt to this more dangerous variant,” Ferrer said.

At LAUSD, 6,500 students had to miss school during the first week due to Covid-19 outbreaks. If an unvaccinated student gets infected, the district’s current policy states that the student must quarantine for 10 days, or seven days if they test negative six days after exposure and have no symptoms.  

Currently, only children aged 12 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19. L.A. County or other city sites make it easier for residents to get the shot without an appointment.

Paralympics Bar All Fans From Attendance Due To Covid-19 Concerns

Just as all fans were recently banned from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, organizers for the Paralympics this year announced that all spectators will be barred from the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the Olympics some fans were able to spectate from outlying areas away from Tokyo, however, for the Paralympics organizers are planning on barring all fans with the exception of some children for a couple of events. Organizers are also telling the public not to come out to view any road events. 

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International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa all met last week to finalize these decisions before announcing it to the public. 

The Paralympics begin on August 24th with about 4,400 athletes projected to participate. The Olympics this year had around 11,000 athletes, so the smaller scale should hopefully make it easier for organizers to manage health and safety procedures. 

The announcement also comes as Japan, and Tokyo specifically, sees a rise in Covid-19 case numbers. Parsons spoke at a news conference where he proclaimed that there was no room for complacency in the wake of the Olympics. 

“In light of the current case numbers in Tokyo and wider Japan, everyone attending these games must be vigilant.” 

New Covid-19 infections tripled in Tokyo throughout the 17-day period that the Olympics were occuring, however, local health expert’s haven’t directly linked the rise in cases to the Games themselves. Experts instead believe that the Olympic games caused a lot of the public to get distracted and put them into a false sense of security. 

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas will be extended until September 12th; the current state of emergency has been in place since July 12th and was initially meant to end later this month. 

“The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs,” Suga said.

This past Friday Tokyo logged around 5,800 new cases, and on Sunday it logged about 4,300 more. This rise in infections has put an extreme strain on Japan’s healthcare system and its workers.

Dr. Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in an interview that “a significant number of people are still unvaccinated, and characterized the virus situation for the Paralympics as worse than it was during the Olympics.”

About 37% of the Japanese population is thought to be fully vaccinated at this point. Ozaki said the decision to not have fans at the Paralympics was a “minimum necessity, holding the event in general is a political decision, but the judgement by the medical side is that it will be difficult. 

“The Olympics is a festival and might have affected the people in ways to loosen up and served as an indirect cause of rising cases.”