COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues

It's been several months since sports in the United States came to a screeching halt amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons suddenly were put on hiatus.

Recent UFC bouts, WWE matches, NASCAR races and golf tournaments offered a glimmer of hope, and now the timelines of major sports are finally still being finalized. The NBA, NHL and MLB have announced plans to return to play, but with news breaking so often, we’ve gathered the latest stories fans need to know.

 
1 of 19

COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues

COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

It's been nearly a year since sports in the United States came to a screeching halt amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the NBA, MLB and NHL seasons suddenly were put on hiatus.

The NHL, NBA and MLB resumed and completed their seasons, but outbreaks complicated baseball's return. The NBA's 2020-21 tipped off, but the league has been forced to postponement many games.

The NFL was able to complete its 2020-21 season — despite COVID-19 outbreaks causing schedule reshuffling throughout the campaign.  

Over in the college ranks, the NCAA was able complete its college football season. On January 11, the Alabama Crimson Tide won the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. However, college basketball programs continue to experience issues.

With news breaking so often, we’ve gathered the latest stories fans need to know.

 
2 of 19

NBA

NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what has happened over the last couple of weeks in the NBA:

APRIL 16

  • After having to cancel it in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA will once again hold its G League Elite Camp prior to the draft combine this year, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who says the event will take place from June 19-21. The combine will follow, in the same location, from June 21-27. Read more here.

APRIL 15

  • Bulls star Zach LaVine is expected to miss several games after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski’s report comes on the heels of the Bulls’ PR department announcing that the team had to call off Thursday’s practice due to the protocols, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Read more here.

APRIL 14

  • Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 for months. As of late, he has started to look more like himself. Tatum said he's feeling "very close" to 100% and added some new information about his recovery from the coronavirus. "I take an inhaler before the game since I've tested positive," Tatum said, according to Boston.com's Tom Westerholm. "This has kind of helped with that and opened up my lungs and, you know, I never took an inhaler before. So that's something different. I for sure feel better now than I did a month ago." The 23-year-old added that he's not sure when he'll be able to stop using the inhaler. Many people who have tested positive for COVID-19 deal with symptoms for many months after the virus is gone. Read more here.
  • Quietly and without much fanfare, the NBA has established the standard among North American leagues for avoiding costly and potentially dangerous COVID-19 outbreaks. The NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced on Wednesday that zero new players tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week. Read more here.
  • An Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada, will be played under “bubble” rules if negotiations with the Canadian government are successful. That news came Wednesday from FIBA headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, as planning for this summer’s international basketball tournaments continued. Read more here.
  • The tightened schedule the NBA adopted to squeeze 72 games into five months is being criticized amid an increase in injuries, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Holmes talked to several general managers and training-staff officials who believe players are more at risk than ever. Read more here.

APRIL 12

  • Both the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals announced on Monday they're welcoming fans back to Capital One Arena for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NBA and NHL to halt their seasons over a year ago. Approximately 2,100 fans, or 10% of the arena's capacity, will be permitted to watch the Wizards host the Golden State Warriors on April 21. From there, the Wizards will have six remaining home games on their schedule. Per health and safety protocols listed by the clubs, fans wishing to attend events must verbally answer health survey questions to enter the arena, wear masks at all times inside the venue and follow social distancing guidelines. Read more here.

APRIL 9

  • Los Angeles Lakers owner, CEO and governor Jeanie Buss received the COVID-19 vaccine this  week, and she used her inoculation to encourage others, including the  extended “Lakers family,” to do the same. Buss shared an image on Instagram Thursday showing her receiving a shot at a drive-thru vaccination site. On a coincidental note involving Buss’s announcement, the Lakers announced the same day she received the vaccine that the team has scheduled its championship banner ceremony for July 12. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium also reported Thursday that fans will be allowed to attend the ceremony, although the exact number of fans allowed into Staples Center is unclear at this time. Read more here.
  • During a typical NBA league year, a player must be waived by March 1 in order to retain his postseason eligibility for a new team. However, due to the late start in 2020-21, that date has been pushed back to Friday, April 9 — Friday. That means that any player who remains on an NBA roster after Friday won’t be eligible to suit up in the postseason for a new team, though there are a few exceptions to that general rule. Crucially, a player who is currently on a 10-day contract represents one such exception. For instance, once DeMarcus Cousins‘ 10-day deal with the Clippers expires next Wednesday, he’d still be able to re-sign with L.A. or join a new team and be eligible to play in the postseason, since he’s not being placed on waivers after April 9. Read more here.

APRIL 8

  • The Golden State Warriors announced Thursday that fans will be welcomed back at Chase Center beginning with an April 23 game against the Denver Nuggets. Chase Center is expected to accommodate up to 35% capacity initially. However, that number “is subject to the State’s physical distancing requirements, and the actual percentage of fan capacity that will be permitted on a per game basis may vary based on local health approval and subsequent guidance issued by the State and the County,” per the statement. Additionally, fans will have to “produce either proof of a full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test that was administered within 48 hours prior to the game” before entering Chase Center. Read more here.

APRIL 7

  • The NBA reportedly expects arenas to be at full capacity for the 2021-22 season and is hopeful that it can safely welcome more fans into the stands this season, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes. Holmes reports a "key aspect" toward allowing more fans to attend games is the NBA's league-wide partnership with Clear, "a biometric screening company known for its expedited security process at hundreds of airports worldwide." The partnership makes Clear's COVID-19 health-screening technology available to all NBA teams. The deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday morning, Holmes says. Read more here.
  • The NBA and NBPA have formally announced that of the 483 players tested for the coronavirus within the last week, one has returned a confirmed positive test. Read more here.

APRIL 2

MARCH 31

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder organization, specifically members of the roster and basketball operations staff, received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday,  as first reported by ESPN. The number of personnel who participated in the inoculations was called “significant.” A link was also provided in the social media messages through which Oklahomans could schedule vaccine appointments of their own. Read more here.
  • The NBA and NBPA have announced their COVID-19 testing results for the past week, stating in a press release that just one player of the 481 tested since March 24 returned a confirmed positive result. Read more here.

MARCH 30

  • The NBA has incentivized getting vaccinated, allowing teams that have 85% of both players and staff fully-vaccinated to be freed from the restrictions that have kept them masked in locker rooms, confined to their hotel rooms without guests on the road and banned from eating at restaurants. However, despite the incentives, some players and staff are refusing to be vaccinated, citing religious reasons, health concerns (such as allergies) or other personal reasons. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts spoke with the Wall Street Journal and confirmed that at least a sect of players have concerns about being vaccinated. Roberts suggests, however, that the vaccines -- which she says are “auditioning” -- are “earning credibility” with her constituents. Read more here.

MARCH 26

  • Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr revealed that approximately one dozen members of the team, apparently players and coaches, received the COVID-19 vaccine this week. The news of the inoculations arrives amid reports that some Warriors players do not intend to get the vaccine. Kerr disclosed that the players and coaches who were inoculated Thursday received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which means a second shot will not be necessary. As noted, some Warriors players previously expressed an aversion to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This week, both Andrew Wiggins and Kent Bazemore indicated vaccinations are not in their future. Bazemore provided a blunt “no” when asked. Wiggins, meanwhile, said, “I don’t really see myself getting it anytime soon, unless forced to, somehow.” Read more here.

MARCH 24

  • Some members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization will receive the COVID-19 vaccine at some point this week, according to a report from Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Lakers will join the New Orleans Pelicans, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat as NBA organizations that have disclosed receipt of COVID-19 vaccines since inoculations became more readily available to the general public. Read more here.

MARCH 23

  • Per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), the Heat intend to open two sections in their lower bowl only for fans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning with their April 1 game against the Golden State Warriors. The Heat are the first NBA franchise to announce such a move, but the AP added other clubs are working to follow in Miami's footsteps. Read more here.

MARCH 18

  • The NBA and NBPA have reached an agreement to lighten health and safety protocols for players who have been vaccinated. There were also be changes in guidelines for teams where 85% of players and staff have received the vaccination. The NBA considers someone fully vaccinated 14 days after they have received the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. According to ESPN's Baxter Holmes, vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to quarantine due to exposure to the coronavirus. Further, they also will be able to have up to four guests on the road without prior testing and allowed to go to outdoor restaurants. For teams that reach 85% vaccination for players and staff, they will no longer be required to wear masks at team practice facilities and they will have more flexibility to leave the hotel when they are on the road, including eating both indoors and outdoors at restaurants. Read more here.

MARCH 14

  • Eligible members of the New Orleans Pelicans organization, including several players, received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, the team announced, according to ESPN's Andrew Lopez. Pelicans reserve guard Sindarius Thornwell was among the players. Read more here.

MARCH 13

  • While the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on every pro sport and team, the scale of the damage seems to be known for the Sacramento Kings. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Jason Jones, the Kings lost approximately $100 million over the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

MARCH 6

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday that he's "optimistic" the 2021-22 season will start on time with "fairly full arenas," according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Read more here.
  • The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA, unsurprisingly, took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. When the entire country came to a halt about one year ago, Forbes estimated that the four major American sports leagues and the NCAA would lose a combined $5 billion in revenue. According to Forbes' most recent report, the revenue losses for the NCAA and the four major U.S. sports leagues have now hit at least $14.1 billion. Read more here.
 
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MLB

MLB
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the latest MLB news from the past couple of weeks:

APRIL 16

  • Major League Baseball saw a slight uptick in positive COVID-19 test results among players and personnel over the past week. In their weekly joint statement, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced on Friday that three new players and three staff members returned positive coronavirus results in the latest round of testing. MLB had recorded four positive COVID-19 tests over each of the previous three weeks. Read more here.

APRIL 14

  • The Twins placed shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the COVID-19-related injured list. Simmons did test positive and has exhibited “very mild” symptoms, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey announced to reporters. There were no other positives on the roster. Simmons will be away from the team for at least a 10-day period under the league’s 2021 health and safety protocols. Read  more here.
  • As Matt Young explained for the Houston Chronicle, the Astros placed second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman, designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, catcher Martin Maldonado and backup infielder Robel Garcia on the injured list ahead of Wednesday's matchup against the Detroit Tigers due to MLB's health and safety protocols. Read more here.

APRIL 13

APRIL 12

  • The Blue Jays have activated Lourdes Gurriel Jr. from the COVID-19 injured list, the team announced. Gurriel left Friday’s game and spent two days on the COVID-IL due to some side effects after receiving a vaccine. Read more here.
  • The Nationals announced a series of roster moves as they continue to bring players back from the COVID-19 list. Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber and Josh Harrison are all back from COVID protocols and are active for Monday night’s game .Jon Lester is the only player still on the COVID-related injury list, as the Nationals have just about all of their roster back following the coronavirus outbreak that forced Washington to postpone its first four games of the season. Read more here.
  • The Cubs have placed three members of their bullpen – right-handers Jason Adam, Brandon Workman and Dan Winkler – on the COVID-19 injured list, Robert Murray of FanSided was among those to report. The move came “out of abundance of caution” after bullpen coach Chris Young tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.

APRIL 11

  • Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora and members of the coaching staff received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before returning from spring training in Fort Myers. No Red Sox players have received the vaccine yet, but Cora said Sunday that he believes at least 85% of them will opt to get vaccinated, according to MassLive's Christopher Smith. Read more here.

APRIL 10

APRIL 9

  • Major League Baseball has once again recorded four new positive COVID-19 test results across a week. MLB and the MLB Players Association jointly announced on Friday that one new MLB player, two staff members and one player from an alternate site returned positive results from the latest round of coronavirus testing. Technically, it's the third straight week MLB has recorded four positives, but it appears the league's health and safety protocols combined with personnel receiving vaccine shots are thus far working toward achieving the goal of completing the season on time and without delays. Read more here.
  • Gio Urshela is experiencing side effects from the vaccine and has been placed on the COVID injured list, the Yankees announced ahead of Friday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Read more here.
  • The Blue Jays will likely be back in Buffalo. As Keegan Matheson wrote for the league's official website, the Buffalo Bisons, Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, announced on Friday that they're beginning the season in Trenton, N.J., while the Blue Jays renovate Buffalo's Sahlen Field to prepare it for MLB action. Read more here.

APRIL 8

  • The New York Yankees appear like they will soon reach the 85% COVID-19 vaccination rate, manager Aaron Boone revealed this week. Hitting that benchmark would mean the Yankees would satisfy MLB’s requirements for relaxed COVID-19 heath and safety protocols. “I’m very optimistic we’ll get to that point very soon,’’ Boone said Wednesday, per the New York Post. “It’s a matter of when we got that opportunity, which I know is coming.” Boone, who also was recently vaccinated, indicated the team brought in doctors to educate players and staff on the wisdom, not to mention safety, of getting inoculated against COVID-19. Read more here.

APRIL 7

  • Many professional athletes have spoken about how much they missed having fans at games during the pandemic, but Zack Greinke offered a different take during the playoffs last year. Now that ballparks are once again allowing spectators, the pitcher seems to have changed his mind. “It has been pretty nice having the fans in the stadium actually,” the right-hander said, via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. “I thought I enjoyed it last year without them. So far, I would say it’s been pretty nice having the fans. Going home will be nice also.” Read more here.
  • Max Scherzer threw six innings in the Washington Nationals’ win over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, and it sounds like he would have preferred to do so in front of more fans. The Nationals have been given permission by their local government to have 5,000 fans at their ballpark, which is roughly how many attended Tuesday’s game. There were no fans seated in the upper deck area, and Scherzer found that puzzling. He said as much while speaking with reporters after the 6-5 victory. Read more here.
  • Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters ahead of Wednesday's home game versus the Kansas City Royals that half of the team’s Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel, which includes players and others in the traveling party, received the first of two Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shots at Progressive Field on Tuesday. The remaining members willingly accepting the vaccine will receive shots on Thursday. Read more here.
  • The Mets and Nationals had their regular-season opening series postponed last week due to COVID-19 concerns impacting Washington. MLB confirmed the makeup dates for those games on Wednesday. Read more here.

APRIL 6

  • Mets president Sandy Alderson admitted Monday that “there has been some hesitation on the part of some players” on the team over whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Because of the uncertainty among some Mets players, the team has scheduled a Zoom session Tuesday with an independent medical expert who is expected to extol the wisdom, not to mention safety, of getting vaccinated. What’s more, the Mets will schedule a vaccination session at Citi Field on Thursday with the hope that Tuesday’s educational presentation will convince more players to be inoculated. Read more here.
  • Led by starting pitchers Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester and reliever Brad Hand, the Nationals added catchers Alex Avila and Yan Gomes, first baseman Josh Bell, infielders Josh Harrison and Jorday Mercer and outfielder Kyle Schwarber to the IL due to safety protocols. Four Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19, and another seven were quarantined after being deemed close contacts. The team has not indicated which players are affected. Read more here.

APRIL 5

  • According to team president Sandy Alderson, J.D. Davis isn't alone among Mets members experiencing "hesitation" as it pertains to receiving vaccines. Alderson added on Monday that the Mets want "to get as many players as possible vaccinated." Read more here.
  • Washington won't begin the campaign until Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Braves at the earliest, and MLB insider Jon Heyman has confirmed that four Washington players have thus far tested positive for the coronavirus. Another seven are in quarantine. Read more here.
  • Marlins 1B/OF Garrett Cooper was placed on the IL due to an adverse reaction after receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a fairly common side effect for some vaccinated patients. Because there is no 10-day minimum attached to the COVID list, Cooper could be back in action as early as Tuesday if he is feeling better, though the Marlins chose to sideline him. Read more here.

APRIL 4

  • The Washington Nationals have been cleared to begin their season on Tuesday after having their first four games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

APRIL 3

  • Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol opened the 2021 campaign on the injured list, but it is not the result of an injury. Graterol's stint on the IL is "related to COVID from the past," according to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. Read more here.

APRIL 2

  • The New York Mets' Opening Day game against the Nationals on Thursday was postponed because of coronavirus concerns after at least three Washington players tested positive for COVID-19. The Mets and Nationals were supposed to play on Saturday and Sunday, but now both sides won't meet at all, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. The Mets will open the season on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Read more here.
  • Mets 3B J.D. Davis said he is unsure if he'll get the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.
  • Major League Baseball has settled on a 20-round draft for the 2021 season, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America reports. That outcome has long seemed likely, as it is the minimum number of rounds required in the 2020 agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. While it’s obviously a step up from last year’s five-round event, the 20-round length still clocks in at half the length of the standard 40-round draft. Read more here.
  • MLB and the MLB Players Association announced that three new players and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week. It's the second straight week the league has recorded four new positive coronavirus cases. From March 12-18, only one player tested positive. Read more here.

APRIL 1

  • President Joe Biden criticized the Texas Rangers' decision to place no limit on fan capacity for their home opener, calling the decision a "mistake." The Rangers are the only team that is placing no cap on fan attendance for their home opener on April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays, meaning that over 40,000 fans could be gathered at Globe Life Field for the game. Fans attending the home opener will be required to wear masks, except when they are eating or drinking at their seats. After the home opener, the team is planning to have "distanced seating" sections, which will feature more space between occupied seats. Read more here.

MARCH 30

  • The Astros announced that Myles Straw, Abraham Toro and Garrett Stubbs have rejoined the team after clearing COVID-19 protocols. The trio were absent for contract-tracing purposes in the wake of another positive test within Houston’s camp. In addition, Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter tested positive for COVID-19, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters. Other coaches are out of camp while contact tracing and further tests are administered, though it appears to be somewhat precautionary, as Hinch said that “no one else — player, staff — has been impacted or affected by this.” Read more here.
  • The Blue Jays confirmed that their third homestand of the upcoming MLB regular season has been relocated to their spring training facility of TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., due to the continued closure of the border that separates the United States and Canada to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They announced on Feb. 18 that their first two homestands would be played in Florida. To date, Toronto now has 22 of 81 home games scheduled to occur at TD Ballpark rather than Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays won't return to Toronto until May 31, an off day, at the absolute earliest. They hope to fill TD Ballpark to 15% capacity for home games that begin April 8. Typically, the venue seats approximately 8,500 fans. Read more here.

MARCH 29

  • Houston Astros players, who choose to do so, will receive the COVID-19 vaccine before Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said Monday, per The Athletic's Jake Kaplan. Read more here.
  • With the vaccine becoming more available across the country, Major League Baseball is expected to relax health and safety protocols for teams who have at least 85% of their Tier 1 players vaccinated, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Read more here.
  • However, per Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said on Monday his club may not hit the 85% mark due to players opting against vaccination. Read more here.
 
4 of 19

NHL

NHL
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what the NHL has been doing over the past couple of weeks to prepare for he league's resumption:

APRIL 16

  • The Colorado Avalanche canceled morning skate again Friday after another member of their traveling party tested positive for coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, the Los Angeles Kings — the scheduled opponent for Friday’s Avalanche game — also canceled their morning skate. Read more here.
  • After the Colorado Avalanche canceled morning skate Friday following another positive COVID-19 test result, the league has postponed their games through April 20. That means Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings and Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues will have to be rescheduled further down the line. The hope is that the Avalanche can reopen their practice and training facilities on Wednesday, April 21, and return to action on the following night. Read more here.
  • In response to the Vancouver Canucks’ recent medical testing, the league decided that Friday’s game was not able to be played. Saturday’s scheduled match against the Toronto Maple Leafs has also been pushed, with it now set for Sunday evening. The ripple effect of these changes spread out across the entire North Division (save for the Ottawa Senators), with more than a dozen other schedule alterations announced Friday. Saturday’s game between the Oilers and Jets has also been pulled up three hours to fill the now-vacant prime time spot on "Hockey Night In Canada." Read more here.

APRIL 15

  • The NHL has confirmed that the Vancouver Canucks will not return to play from their lengthy COVID-19 pause Friday night versus the Edmonton Oilers as originally hoped.  "The decision to extend the period prior to the team’s resumption of play was made to provide Club staff and Players with additional time for recovery and preparation following its recent COVID outbreak," the league said in the prepared statement. Read more here.
  • Players in the COVID protocol are: Boston's Jaroslav Halak; Colorado's Bowen Byram and Philipp Grubauer; Edmonton's Dmitry Kulikov; Los Angeles' Matt Roy; Montreal's Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson; Philadelphia's Jackson Cates; Toronto's Nick Foligno, Riley Nash, William Nylander and Ben Hutton; and Vancouver's  Nils Hoglander, Nate Schmidt and Jake Virtanen. Read more here.
  • The 2021 IIHF World Championship, scheduled to take place in Latvia from May 21 to June 6, is proceeding as planned. However, the NHL regular season is currently on pace to end on May 16, if not later, due to the delays created by the recent COVID-19 outbreak within the Vancouver Canucks locker room. This means that when the World Championship begins, the postseason will have just begun and national teams will be without options from 16 NHL teams. Read more here.

APRIL 14

  • The Colorado Avalanche canceled their morning skate Wednesday after a positive result in their COVID-19 testing Tuesday. The person is isolating, and the rest of the tests have all returned negative. Read more here.

APRIL 13

  • The WHL and QMJHL have been back in action for a while now, they won’t be chasing a Memorial Cup this season. The CHL has announced that the 2021 Memorial Cup has been canceled. Read more here.
  • The Buffalo Bills and Sabres plan to have full attendance at home games in the fall, though you will only be able to attend if you can provide proof that you have been vaccinated for COVID-19. "Our goal is to have a 100 percent full house for the Bills and the Sabres, starting in the fall," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced via video conference. Poloncarz said that while individuals can make their own choice about getting vaccinated, to ensure that as many fans as possible can attend safely, vaccination will be required. This will make it so mass testing is not required for fans, which will make the entire game-day experience feel more normal and enjoyable. On Twitter, he said that fans can apply for an Excelsior Pass, which will show that they have been fully vaccinated and is already being used by the New York state health department. Read more here.

APRIL 12

  • Both the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals announced on Monday they're welcoming fans back to Capital One Arena for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic caused the NBA and NHL to halt their seasons over a year ago. The Capitals will first allow spectators into the venue at 10% capacity for the April 27 matchup versus the New York Islanders. "Due to the very limited tickets to be made available, priority for ticketing will be given to season ticket members," the Capitals said in their prepared statement. "If there is any remaining single game ticket availability for a general public sale, related information will be communicated at a later date." Per health and safety protocols listed by the clubs, fans wishing to attend events must verbally answer health survey questions to enter the arena, wear masks at all times inside the venue and follow social distancing guidelines. Read more here.

APRIL 8

  • TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger tweeted on Thursday that the Canucks did not report a new positive coronavirus test on Wednesday night. TSN adds that it's hoped Vancouver can return to play at the end of next week. The entire Canucks team remains in isolation. Read more here.

APRIL 7

  • Per Tracey Myers of the NHL's official website, Rick Bowness has been cleared from the league's COVID-19 protocols list and can rejoin the Stars after it was determined he registered a "false positive" coronavirus test result. Read more here.
  • The New York Rangers canceled practice on Wednesday to allow their players and staff members to get vaccinated, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. The Rangers said in a statement that "many" of their players and staff members have decided to get vaccinated. Read more here.
  • Roughly 24 hours after The Athletic reported that at least 17 Vancouver players have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Canucks confirmed that 18 active players, three players from the taxi squad and four staff members have tested positive for a virus variant. One other player is currently listed as a high-risk close contact. Thus far, Vancouver has had six contests postponed during the outbreak that is threatening the club's ability to complete the scheduled 56-game regular season. According to Ben Kuzma of The Province, at least two additional matchups are likely to be scrapped. Read more here.

APRIL 6

  • Per Mike Battaglino of the NHL's official website, forward Jake Virtanen became the 18th Canucks player to enter the league's COVID-19 protocols list amid the virus outbreak that has sidelined the club since March 24. The Athletic is reporting that at least 17 Vancouver players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Two taxi-squad players and three coaches were also on the protocol list as of Tuesday afternoon. Read more here.

APRIL 5

  • According to Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com, Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak has tested positive for coronavirus. That will put him into the protocol whether or not it is determined to be a false-positive down the line, meaning he won’t be available Monday night. Read more here.
  • According to the Canadian Press, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email that Vancouver's coronavirus crisis is "concerning from a health and safety standpoint, not necessarily from a scheduling standpoint" and that he remains confident the Canucks will be able to complete their 56-game schedule. As of Monday afternoon, Vancouver remained scheduled to resume the season at the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. The status of that matchup is up in the air pending word from either the Canucks or the NHL. Read more here.

APRIL 4

  • The NHL will reportedly discuss the possibility of returning to a bubble environment for the 2021 playoffs, according to SportsNet's Elliotte Friedman. The news comes amid the Vancouver Canucks major COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.
  • The Vancouver Canucks' COVID-19 outbreak continues to get worse by the day. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, more than 20 Canucks players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.
  • Furthermore, Emily Kaplan of ESPN reports that “more than half” of the Canucks’ players have tested positive, and some are in “rough shape.” Read more here.
  • The Boston Bruins will get a member of their top six back this week. According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Jake DeBrusk has been removed from the NHL's COVID list. Read more here.

APRIL 3

  • The Vancouver Canucks' COVID-19 outbreak is reportedly worse than initially believed. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, the Brazil variant has been identified in some of the cases that have infected members of the Canucks. Read more here.

APRIL 2

  • Brandon Hagel of the Blackhawks has been placed in the league’s COVID protocol. Read more here.
  • On Friday afternoon, the NHL confirmed that the game between the Ottawa Senators and Jets originally scheduled to occur in Winnipeg on May 7 has been moved to this coming Monday. Winnipeg was initially set to face the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday and Tuesday but had those matchups postponed due to COVID-19 concerns affecting the Canucks. Read more here.
  • On Thursday, veteran center Eric Staal told the "NHL @TheRink" podcast that he intended to skate with his Montreal Canadiens teammates for the first time on Sunday following the March 26 trade from the Buffalo Sabres after his mandatory seven-day quarantine. Per Sportsnet, head coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed on Friday that Staal will make his Montreal debut Monday against the Edmonton Oilers. Read more here.

MARCH 30

  • Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette will be added to the COVID-19 protocol list after the Canucks announced that the forward tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday. Gaudette was practicing with the team when he received the news and left the ice immediately. Read more here.

MARCH 29

  • As Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette explained, the Canadiens returned to practice Monday at 6:45 p.m. local time at the Bell Sports Complex ahead of Tuesday's scheduled game against the Edmonton Oilers. Montreal went on pause after forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi landed on the league's COVID-19 protocols list back on March 22. One of the two tested positive for a coronavirus variant, while the other was deemed a high-risk close contact. Read more here.

MARCH 26

  • The NWHL released information on its COVID testing prior to this weekend’s Isobel Cup Playoffs, and it’s all good news. There were zero positive test results among the PCR tests administered to players and team personnel traveling to Boston, zero positive test results among the rapid tests administered prior to boarding transportation to Boston and zero positive test results from the rapid tests administered upon arrival at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Friday’s semifinals. Read more here.
  • Buffalo interim head coach Don Granato and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis have cleared the league's COVID-19 protocols and will be back with the team for Saturday's game at the Boston Bruins. Granato and Ellis entered the protocols hours before Thursday's matchup at the Pittsburgh Penguins that the Sabres dropped to suffer a 16th consecutive defeat. General manager Kevyn Adams served as Buffalo's head coach for that loss. Read more here.

MARCH 14

  • Although the North Division was intended to be a temporary alignment only for the 2020-21 season, the all-Canadian grouping has been popular north of the border. As a result, there are a number of teams hoping that the division might stay together for a while longer. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports that several Canadian teams are hoping to get at least another year of national competition. Read more here.

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.

MARCH 9

  • Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is not expected to be pushed back. Though there was considerable support from general managers all across the league, the substantial obstacles will make the league keep the event scheduled for this July. Concerns over service time, draft rights and delaying the top prospects from an October NHL debut were all among the many complexities moving the draft would have created. Read more here.
 
5 of 19

NFL

NFL
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season started without issues, but the Titans suffered a COVID outbreak, and several big-name Patriots tested positive. As the NFL hopes to continue the season, we'll bring you the latest updates from the league:

APRIL 15

  • Defensive tackle Michael Pierce was one of the players who chose to opt out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he admits there were moments last year where he wished he had played instead. "There were, for sure, many times where I would say 'Dang, I could've been out there,'" Pierce, via The Associated Press. "A hundred and ten percent I felt like, especially as the weeks went on and the NFL got more adept with dealing with the COVID situation, I for sure regretted it to an extent." Read more here.
  • The Bears, Browns and Giants became the latest three teams to announce they prefer a virtual offseason, which the NFL had last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the statements from this new trio respectively through these Twitter links. Read more here.
  • Add another team to the list of squads that will be skipping in-person offseason workouts. Via the NFLPA, Raiders players announced that they will not be attending their voluntary workouts. Read more here.
  • According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, members of the Dallas Cowboys held a Zoom video conference on Wednesday to discuss their intentions for upcoming scheduled activities. The outcome of that meeting wasn't mentioned. Read more here.
  • ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed the highly-anticipated schedule release for the upcoming season wouldn't take place until some point in May and after the NFL Draft that opens April 29. Read more here.

APRIL 14

  • The NFL announced that over two million vaccines have been administered at league sites throughout the United States. Read more here.
  • Multiple NFL teams are skipping voluntary workouts that are set to begin April 19. The New England Patriots joined that list on Wednesday, citing COVID-19 concerns. Read more here.
  • Per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, the Broncos have scheduled a vaccination event for April 21 that will include the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine being made available to players, coaches, staff members and also all adult family members of personnel. Second vaccine doses will be administered on May 13. Read more here.
  • The subject of offseason workouts has generated considerable discord this offseason, but teams remain free to begin programs Monday. The NFL also released a schedule for this year’s OTAs, for the teams that intend to participate onsite. Read more here.

APRIL 13

  • The NFL informed clubs Tuesday that team employees who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine will not have full access to the team facility or be able to work directly with players. Only employees with “bona fide medical or religious ground” will be considered exempt from the rule. Otherwise, non-vaccinated employees will not be granted Tier 1 or Tier 2 status. The full memo from the league office outlines additional protocols for clubs. For instance, teams will be required to report their number of vaccinated employees on a weekly basis. Meanwhile, the league is still in talks with the NFLPA to determine the thresholds and milestones at which protocols on testing, PPE and travel can be relaxed. Read more here.
  • Furthermore, the NFL has sent a memo to all 32 teams, telling them that they should be encouraging players and staff to get vaccinated and that every team is expected to participate in the vaccination effort. Read more here.
  • The NFL recently informed teams that they are clear to begin the first phase of their voluntary workout programs on April 19, but many players and teams are not planning to train at their respective facilities. In statements released through the NFL Players Association, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks players announced on Tuesday that they will not take part in the start of voluntary workouts next week. They cited the COVID-19 pandemic and said they will not report for in-person activities “without adequate protocols in place.” The NFLPA has been urging players to only take part in virtual workouts for the time being. NFLPA president JC Tretter said the latest proposal from the NFL called for the first two weeks of offseason workouts to be virtual before switching to in-person. The union wants everything prior to training camp — including mandatory minicamp — to be virtual. Read more here.
  • Furthermore, Seattle wide receiver and player representative Tyler Lockett spoke with reporters later in the day and hinted he and his teammates are committed to a virtual offseason for the second straight year. "Last year we did a virtual offseason," Lockett said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. "We also want to do a virtual this year." Read more here.
  • The Buffalo Bills and Sabres plan to have full attendance at home games in the fall, though you will only be able to attend if you can provide proof that you have been vaccinated for COVID-19. "Our goal is to have a 100 percent full house for the Bills and the Sabres, starting in the fall," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced via video conference. Poloncarz said that while individuals can make their own choice about getting vaccinated, to ensure that as many fans as possible can attend safely, vaccination will be required. This will make it so mass testing is not required for fans, which will make the entire game-day experience feel more normal and enjoyable. On Twitter, he said that fans can apply for an Excelsior Pass, which will show that they have been fully vaccinated and is already being used by the New York state health department. Read more here.

APRIL 9

  • Ongoing and future coronavirus vaccine rollouts have owners and executives pushing for a return to in-person offseason activities this spring, but the players aren't yet backing down. Per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter said during a Friday call with players that union members should threaten to boycott in-person work organized by teams. Read more here.

APRIL 8

  • The NFL and NFLPA continue to discuss the parameters of the 2021 offseason. Absent a deal, teams can begin holding onsite workouts April 19. But the agreement between the league and the union should still be expected to include some on-field work this spring. After last year’s virtual offseason, the 2021 program is expected to feature OTAs at team facilities, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. The NFLPA has pushed back on in-person offseason workouts returning, citing COVID-19 concerns, but a compromise that leads to some on-field work appears to be in the works. Teams with new coaches in 2021, as of now, are not expected to have a head-start this year. But after 2020’s fully virtual offseason, coaching staffs will certainly welcome increased opportunities to develop players onsite ahead of training camp. Read more here.
  • Last summer, New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley became  one of the biggest names to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, the veteran shared that he has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Read more here.

APRIL 7

  • Reports emerged late last month that the NFL and NFL Players Association intend to "eliminate a number of significant restrictions" related to COVID-19 for vaccinated players, coaches, staff members and other personnel. According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, that has not yet convinced Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen to receive a shot as quickly as possible. Read more here.

APRIL 3

  • The NFL told teams to prepare for in-person offseason programs to return this year, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. However, the union has offered pushback to an onsite offseason returning this year, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reporting little progress has been made between the sides on this front. Read more here.

MARCH 31

  • It is expected that the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols will be amended in the coming months to eliminate a number of significant restrictions for vaccinated individuals, such as the need to participate in daily testing, quarantine periods due to close contact with an infected individual and/or refraining from social gatherings among other vaccinated individuals, the league announced in a memo. It is also anticipated that clubs that achieve a certain rate of vaccination among its tiered staff and players may be permitted to relax restrictions that apply to meetings, mealtime and use of locker rooms. Teams have been instructed to provide a list of players, coaches and other personnel fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in advance of potential relaxed restrictions. Read more here.

MARCH 30

  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday that the league expects to "welcome back fans across the country at all NFL stadiums," per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. "All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back," Goodell said. "Football is simply not the same without the fans, and we expect to have full stadiums in the 2021 season." Read more here.
  • Teams can begin holding OTAs on April 19, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Teams with new head coaches will not receive a head start, which was the format before 2020, but any work at team facilities would represent a significant change after last year’s fully virtual offseason. Players can work out in small groups, as some already have been, at team headquarters. The NFL and NFLPA have yet to iron out a full policy for the 2021 offseason, although the union has lobbied for increased virtual work. Last year, only players rehabbing injuries could work out at team facilities. Read more here.

MARCH 27

  • The NFL won’t mandate vaccines for players attending this year’s draft, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero. Although the league is encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations, the league will not bar players, coaches or team personnel from attending if they have not gotten their shots. Read more here.

MARCH 25

  • Per Kevin Seifert of ESPN, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said during a Thursday appearance on NFL Network that he hopes "everyone" within the NFL will get vaccinated but also that the league currently has "no intention" of mandating vaccinations. "You'll see vaccinated individuals be able to have certain privileges, and certain precautions that are lifted that won't apply to unvaccinated individuals," Sills explained. Read more here.

MARCH 23

  • In the midst of the initial free agency frenzy, Star Lotulelei informed the Bills that he plans to return in 2021. The defensive tackle opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

MARCH 22

MARCH 20

  • The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones wrote there is a reasonable expectation that the 2022 NFL salary cap climbs to at least $200 million, with the possibility it is set even higher. Additionally, agents believe that the 2023 cap ceiling could skyrocket toward $230 million. Read more here.
  • The Las Vegas Raiders will not be stripped of draft picks for violating the NFL's COVID-19 protocols during the 2020 season, league spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to Pro Football Talk. Read more here.
  • The NFL announced Saturday that the Saints have been fined $700,000 and stripped of a sixth-round draft pick in 2022 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. Read more here.

MARCH 12

  • The NFL informed clubs that personnel will be permitted to work inside "draft rooms" during this year's draft that opens April 29. Those inside the draft rooms must wear proper face coverings over noses and mouths and practice social distancing protocols. Eating or drinking inside such rooms is prohibited per health and safety guidelines. Each team must submit its plan for the draft to the NFL by March 26. Read more here.

MARCH 6

  • The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA, unsurprisingly, took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. When the entire country came to a halt about one year ago, Forbes estimated that the four major American sports leagues and the NCAA would lose a combined $5 billion in revenue. According to Forbes' most recent report, the revenue losses for the NCAA and the four major U.S. sports leagues have now hit at least $14.1 billion. Read more here.

MARCH 4

  • Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk) reported on Thursday that the schedule for the 2021 NFL regular season won't be unveiled until the second week of May. As Fischer noted, that would make the event the latest schedule release in the history of the league. Two factors presumably contributing to the delay are that the NFL is "highly likely" to announce a 17-game season that will push Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles back seven days from Feb. 6 to Feb. 13, and also the hope that continued vaccine distributions throughout the country will allow clubs to plan for filled stadiums in September. Read more here.
 
6 of 19

Golf

Golf
Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods recently participated in a charity golf match. Mike Ehrmann-Handout Photo

The latest from the world of golf since competition resumed:

APRIL 13

  • ESPN's Bob Harig reported on Tuesday that the PGA Tour recently sent a memo saying that players and caddies who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to take coronavirus tests at tournament sites to participate. Players and others who elect against getting vaccine shots must still test negative for COVID-19 to participate in future PGA events per current guidelines. Read more here.

MARCH 25

  • Spectators attending Masters practice rounds and also individuals holding daily tournament tickets and series badges will no longer be required to produce negative COVID-19 tests. Per ESPN's Bob Harig and GolfWeek, Masters ticket holders were notified of this decision via an email. The email added that those with tickets to Berckmans Place, the tournament's high-end hospitality venue, must take at-home coronavirus tests 72-hours before arriving. They will also undergo on-site testing. Read more here.

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.

MARCH 9

  • Like other sports leagues and competitions throughout the United States, the PGA Tour is slowly but surely opening events to percentages of paying spectators as COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continue. One hot-button topic likely to be addressed by league executives and ticket brokers is the idea of so-called coronavirus "vaccine passports" that would allow fans to prove they've received COVID-19 vaccines before purchasing tickets to an event such as a golf tournament. According to Bob Harig of ESPN, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told reporters on Tuesday he's currently not considering opening tournaments only to those who have been vaccinated. Monahan added that the Tour intends to continue to enforce mask decrees at events and tournaments. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 23

  • A limited number of spectators will be able to attend the PGA Championship held at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina in May. Per an official PGA of America statement, attendance for the tournament held May 20-23 will be capped at approximately 10,000 fans per round. This decision was made in coordination with South Carolina state officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Medical University of South Carolina. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 9

  • Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington missed the cut at last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open but was looking to get back on track at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. However, the 49-year-old won't be playing in that tournament after he recorded a positive COVID-19 test result. The PGA Tour announced that first alternate Bae Sang-moon will take Harrington's place. Read more here.

JANUARY 13

  • Todd Kelly of Golfweek noted as recently as last Friday that Waste Management Phoenix Open chairman Scott Jenkins was committed to welcoming fans to TPC Scottsdale for the 2021 tournament scheduled to take place from Feb. 4-7 despite concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, Jenkins officially capped the attendance. "We remain hopeful we can host an extremely limited number of socially distanced fans at 'The People’s Open,' and in light of the current COVID climate, we have decided to further reduce our attendance to fewer than 5,000 fans each day," Jenkins said in a statement shared by Josh Frigerio of ABC15 Arizona. The statement added that guests are required to wear masks on the course and also undergo temperature checks before they're permitted on the grounds. Read more here.

JANUARY 12

  • Masters chairman Fred Ridley explained in a prepared statement that officials are working on protocols "to include a limited number of patrons, provided it can be done safely" for this year's event held from April 5-11. It's hoped that "a small number of patrons" will also be allowed to attend the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on April 3 and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on April 4. The Masters added that refunds will be offered to ticket holders not selected for this year's event. Read more here.

DECEMBER 17

  • PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said he does not think that golfers, caddies or officials will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19, saying that it will be an individual choice for everyone and that "there's still an awful lot that we need to learn and we need to know." Read more here.

NOVEMBER 11

  • There is no guarantee that spectators will be welcomed to the 85th Masters scheduled for next  April. "We would need to see objective data that would give us a high level of confidence that we could bring large numbers of people onto the grounds for April,'' Augusta National and Masters chairman Fred Ridley told reporters on Wednesday, per Bob Harig of ESPN. "I think the vaccine — I don't want to get into medical prognostications — but just logically as a layperson, the vaccine while it will be wonderful when it happens, there are all kinds of issues that point to beyond April (for the vaccine) as the silver bullet. Read more here.

SEPTEMBER 16

  • PGA Tour of Australasia Tournaments director Nick Dastey confirmed that the Australian PGA Championship has been postponed until at least February 2021 due to concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.
 
7 of 19

NASCAR

NASCAR
Kevin Harvick won the Real Heroes 400. Brynn Anderson-Pool Photo

What's the latest from the world of NASCAR:

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.
 
8 of 19

NCAA athletics

NCAA athletics
NCAA president Mark Emmert Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA was able complete its college football season. On January 11, the Alabama Crimson Tide won the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. However, college basketball programs experienced issues during the regular season. Teams are competing in a bubble for March Madness. Here is the fallout from the most recent news from the NCAA:

MARCH 29

  • Kim Mulkey wants the NCAA to stop COVID-19 testing so that it doesn’t interfere with the Final Four. Mulkey’s Baylor Bears lost 69-67 to UConn in the Elite Eight on Monday. On the same night, Baylor’s men’s basketball team reached the Final Four with a win over Arkansas. Mulkey expressed her opinion after the game. "There are four teams left on the men’s side and the women’s side. They need to dump the COVID testing," she said. Read more here.

MARCH 25

  • Late Wednesday night, Chip Brown of 247Sports reported that the Texas Longhorns football program recorded multiple positive COVID-19 test results and planned to cancel at least one practice to conduct additional testing and contact tracing. Via a statement shared by 247Sports, Texas has since paused football-related activities. Brown added that Texas hopes to hold a walkthrough on Monday or Tuesday depending on the results of additional coronavirus testing and subsequent contact tracing and quarantines. It's believed the positive tests are linked with players who traveled to Miami for spring break festivities last week. Read more here.

MARCH 24

  • The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that percentages of fans will be permitted to attend remaining 2020-21 games and other events, including those related to springtime football activities. Read more here.
  • UConn Huskies women's basketball will have their legendary head coach back for the biggest games of the season. NBC Connecticut and other outlets have confirmed that coach Geno Auriemma is out of COVID-19 quarantine and linking back up with UConn in San Antonio on Wednesday. Auriemma completed his mandatory isolation period at home and never developed COVID-19 symptoms. He was officially cleared to fly to San Antonio on Wednesday. Read more here.

MARCH 23

  • The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football program confirmed it was delaying the start of spring practices due to the discovery of what head coach Geoff Collins referred to as "a small number of positive COVID-19 tests" within the team. Georgia Tech explained in its brief statement that it will commence its practice schedule "as soon as appropriate, guided by direction from medical experts and with the health and safety of its student-athletes and staff as the top priority." Read more here.

MARCH 20

  • The NCAA announced on Saturday that the scheduled first-round game between Oregon and VCU was declared a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols. Oregon will advance to the second round. According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, VCU is dealing with three positive cases on the team. The Rams had their first positive test on Wednesday, and then two more on Friday. Read more here.

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.

MARCH 8

  • The Associated Press reported late Sunday night that every eligible player must renounce her remaining intercollegiate eligibility and opt in for the 2021 WNBA Draft if she wishes to enter the league this year. According to the WNBA, the draft is set to occur at some point in April. Per Jack Maloney of CBS Sports, there's still no announced date for the player selection process. Typically, players out of college eligibility are automatically entered in the draft. However, the NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility because of hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AP added that rules for a player entering but then removing herself from draft eligibility this year remain unclear. Players must opt in by emailing the WNBA no later than April 1. Those competing in the Final Four have up to 48 hours after their final games to inform the league of their draft decisions. Read more here.

MARCH 6

  • The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA, unsurprisingly, took a massive hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. When the entire country came to a halt about one year ago, Forbes estimated that the four major American sports leagues and the NCAA would lose a combined $5 billion in revenue. According to Forbes' most recent report, the revenue losses for the NCAA and the four major U.S. sports leagues have now hit at least $14.1 billion. Read more here.

MARCH 1

  • The Alabama Crimson Tide are scheduled to host the Mercer Bears at Bryant-Denny Stadium for their 2021 college football home opener on Sept. 11. As of the first day of March, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne is planning to have a full house for that contest. The hope is that Bryant-Denny Stadium will again return to a capacity of 100,077 fans in September. Read more here.
 
9 of 19

Tennis

Tennis
Wimbledon was canceled for the first time in 75 years. Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what has happened most recently in the world of tennis:

APRIL 13

  • World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev won't be competing in this week's Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as scheduled. The ATP Tour announced on Tuesday that Medvedev tested positive for COVID-19 and has been withdrawn from the event that serves as a warmup for next month's French Open. Tournament officials replaced him for the main draw and withdrew him from the doubles competition. Read more here.

APRIL 8

  • The French Open will start almost two weeks later than it was originally scheduled due to the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic. The tournament was set to begin on May 17 but will not start until May 30 instead, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced on Thursday. France has been forced to enter lockdown due to the recent rise in coronavirus cases across the country. On Wednesday, the French Health Ministry reported that 5,729 people were in the ICU due to COVID-19, the highest number since the early days of the pandemic. President Emmanuel Macron said that he hoped the lockdown would help the number of COVID-19 cases to drop, allowing France to re-open by mid-May. Read more here.

APRIL 1

  • Organizers for the Rio Open tennis tournament confirmed on Thursday that the event has been canceled due to COVID-19 spikes throughout Brazil. The tournament was originally scheduled to run from Feb. 15-21 but was postponed because of coronavirus-related concerns. Read more here.

MARCH 19

  • Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are now among the big names that won't be participating in the Miami Open set that runs through April 4 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Djokovic announced Friday afternoon that he's skipping the tournament due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.
 
10 of 19

Pro wrestling

Pro wrestling
This year's WrestleMania still took place. Kevin R. Wexler/NorthJersey.com-NorthJersey

Pro wrestling news over the past few weeks:

JANUARY 11

  • WWE champion Drew McIntyre tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in quarantine. As Joseph Currier of the Wrestling Observer noted, this is the first time that WWE confirmed the identity of a roster member who returned a positive coronavirus test since the start of the pandemic. According to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com, multiple wrestling brands that have national television deals are currently dealing with COVID-19 issues. Read more here.

SEPTEMER 24

  • Back in March, Roman Reigns decided to opt out of WrestleMania 36 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During an appearance on "WWE After the Bell" with "SmackDown" announcer Corey Graves, Reigns explained his choice, saying that it was entirely based on keeping his family safe. Read more here.

SEPTEMBER 2

  • Legendary wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson shared on Instagram that he, his wife, and his two baby daughters all tested positive for the coronavirus. The Rock says they got the virus from close family friends. He said overcoming the virus was harder than recovering from injuries he’s dealt with in the past. Read more here.
 
11 of 19

UFC

UFC
Henry Cejudo (red gloves) fights Dominick Cruz (blue gloves) during UFC 249. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the latest from the MMA world:

APRIL 12

  • "Super" Sage Northcutt (11-3-0) won't fight Shinya Aoki (46-9-0) on the April 28 One Championship show airing on TNT after all. ESPN's Marc Raimondi reported Monday that the popular former top-tier UFC prospect is off the card taking place later this month due to the lingering impacts of a COVID-19 infection. Eduard Folayang (22-8-0), who split two previous contests versus Aoki, is replacing the 25-year-old American once seen as a potential future face of mixed martial arts. Read more here.

APRIL 5

  • While speaking on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1-0) revealed that he was hospitalized with pneumonia while battling COVID-19 after he tested positive for the virus on March 19. He had been scheduled to defend his title versus Brian Ortega on March 27 but had the fight scrapped due to his positive result. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 18

  • While the UFC and Bellator MMA hosted events in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Professional Fighters League canceled its schedule for the year. That won't be the case in 2021. As Brett Okamoto reported for ESPN, the PFL has confirmed that it raised $65 million in new financing for the upcoming season set to get underway on April 23. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 11

 
12 of 19

Boxing

Boxing
The third installment of Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin will be postponed. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What's new in boxing:

OCTOBER 8

  • The unified welterweight title fight between champion Errol Spence Jr. and challenger Danny Garcia has been moved to Dec. 5 at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas. The bout was originally planned for Nov. 21 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, but promoters had placed holds on other venues with the hope that spectators could attend despite concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. Seats for the upcoming boxing event will be sold in "pods" to allow for social distancing. Attendees will be required to wear masks or other face coverings when not actively eating or drinking. Read more here.
 
13 of 19

Summer Olympics

Summer Olympics
The 2020 Summer Games were pushed to 2021. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The latest from the IOC:

APRIL 15

  • After being postponed a year, the Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin in July, but one official said that the games could still be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Toshihiro Nikai, who is the Liberal Democratic Party secretary-general, told the Associated Press that if there is another wave or a rise in new cases, the Olympics would likely need to be pushed back or altogether scrapped. Read more here.

APRIL 14

  • An Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, Canada, will be played under “bubble” rules if negotiations with the Canadian government are successful. That news came Wednesday from FIBA headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, as planning for this summer’s international basketball tournaments continued. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 8

  • The Olympics remain set to occur from July 23 through Aug. 8 as of Monday, and President Joe Biden is hopeful they will take place as long as all involved follow health and safety guidelines. "I’ve spoken with the prime minister of Japan, he’s working very hard to be in a position to safely open the Games, to have the Games, and I think that has to be based on science, whether or not it is safe for that to occur," President Biden told Jim Gray during halftime of the Westwood One Super Bowl LV broadcast, per Reuters. The International Olympic Committee is considering holding the Games without spectators, but no final decision has been made. It's likely all athletes and coaches would have to quarantine in Japan before competitions begin. Read more here.
 
14 of 19

MLS, NWSL

MLS, NWSL
MLS and NWSL continue to be on hold. Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

MLS and NWSL most recent developments:

MARCH 11

  • More and more states, cities, and communities are opening outdoor and indoor events to paying spectators despite continued COVID-19 concerns. During a Thursday appearance on ESPN's "First Take," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that the existence of at least three coronavirus vaccines should permit growing numbers of fans to safely attend sporting events over the next several months. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 25

  • Per the Associated Press (h/t NBA.com), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Thursday that large indoor and outdoor venues, such as sports arenas and ballparks, can welcome fans up to 12% of their capacities beginning March 22. According to estimates shared by Logan Mullen of NESN, the New England Revolution can have 7,905 fans when the Major League Soccer campaign begins in April. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 22

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced during a Monday appearance on radio station WFAN that sports venues with capacities over 5,000 spectators can welcome small percentages of fans to events beginning March 1. Indoor venues are permitted 10% of their capacities, while outdoor arenas can allow 15%. The New York Red Bulls indicated they will welcome supporters for the start of the upcoming Major League Soccer campaign. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 17

  • United States Women's National Team superstar Alex Morgan admitted last week that she "was fairly sick" after she, along with daughter Charlie and husband Servando Carrasco, contracted COVID-19 over the holidays. Per Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, U.S. manager Vlatko Andonovski told reporters on Wednesday that Morgan is approaching full fitness ahead of Thursday's SheBelieves Cup opener versus rivals Canada. Read more here.
 
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International soccer

International soccer
Some soccer leagues overseas have resumed play, albeit in empty stadiums. Ulrich Hufnagel/Xinhua/Sipa USA

Most recent news from international soccer circles:

APRIL 2

  • Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo announced Friday that Weston McKennie, Paulo Dybala and Arthur will not play in Saturday's match against Torino after the trio attended a party at McKennie's home, which was broken up by police, according to ESPN's Andrew Cesare Richardson. Parties are currently prohibited under COVID-19 restrictions in Italy. There is also a curfew in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Police responded to the party at McKennie's home at around 11:30 p.m. Read more here.

MARCH 18

  • Inter Milan has paused all team activities and postponed an upcoming match against Sassuolo, which was scheduled to be played Saturday, following a COVID-19 outbreak. An official announcement from the club identified Stefan de Vrij and Matias Vecino as testing positive, joining goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and defender Danilo D'Ambrosioand, whose positive results were announced on Wednesday. The team said that the four are quarantined in their homes. Read more here.

MARCH 2

  • Brazilian soccer living legend Pele announced via social media on Tuesday that he has received what the Associated Press called his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Pele has been staying in Guaruja since the pandemic first struck Brazil in 2020, but it's unclear where he received the shot. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 22

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that sporting events could be opened to spectators on May 17 barring a spike in coronavirus cases and/or infection rates. Clubs will be able to permit either 10,000 fans or 25% of a venue's capacity, whichever is the lowest figure. Assuming venues can open to customers on May 17, Premier League clubs will welcome supporters for the final day of the season on May 23. This could become a controversial topic, however, as home teams either fighting to avoid relegation or competing for European places in the table will receive one-off morale boosts not enjoyed by most clubs throughout the campaign. Read more here.

FEBRUARY 15

  • Martyn Ziegler of The Times reported on Monday that the Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals are listed as potential test events for permitting socially distanced spectators to return to sporting events in the spring and summer months. Tottenham Hotspur will face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final on April 25, while the FA Cup final is set for May 15. Read more here.
 
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WNBA

WNBA
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

WNBA's latest developments:

APRIL 13

  • The 25th WNBA season will have a much more normal feel to it than its 24th. On Tuesday, the WNBA announced the upcoming regular season will begin May 14 and feature the league's 12 teams playing at their home venues. The league will temporarily pause from July 15 through Aug. 11 due to the Summer Olympics, and teams will play a total of 32 games through the final day of the regular season scheduled for Sept. 19. The 2020 campaign was shifted to the bubble site at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fan attendance for upcoming games will be determined and announced by individual clubs, and all teams will follow local health and safety recommendations. Read more here.

MARCH 8

  • The Associated Press reported late Sunday night that every eligible player must renounce her remaining intercollegiate eligibility and opt in for the 2021 WNBA Draft if she wishes to enter the league this year. According to the WNBA, the draft is set to occur at some point in April. Per Jack Maloney of CBS Sports, there's still no announced date for the player selection process. Typically, players out of college eligibility are automatically entered in the draft. However, the NCAA granted athletes an extra year of eligibility because of hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AP added that rules for a player entering but then removing herself from draft eligibility this year remain unclear. Players must opt in by emailing the WNBA no later than April 1. Those competing in the Final Four have up to 48 hours after their final games to inform the league of their draft decisions. Read more here.
 
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International baseball

International baseball
While MLB remains on hold, baseball has resumed overseas. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

What has happened in international baseball:

JULY 8

  • During a recent game against the Rakuten Eagles, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks employed 20 dancing robots to liven things up. The two kinds of robots, SoftBank’s humanoid robot ‘Pepper’ and others on four legs, engaged in a choreographed dance to the team’s fight song. Read more here.
 
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eSports

eSports
eSports has thrived under lockdown during the pandemic. The Commercial Appeal-Imagn Content Services, LLC

esports carries on:


MAY 19

  • Esports’ popularity has experienced an uptick on both sides of the remote, as CNBC’s Bob Woods reported on May 19 that streaming website Twitch experienced a “23% surge in viewership in March,” coinciding with the time frame when much of the country started to stay home.

MAY 4

  • While the pandemic is having a negative effect on the sports world, it’s been business as usual for esports and gaming. Participants can easily play while maintaining social distancing guidelines since gaming takes place online. In fact, esports has been flourishing. Texas A&M head esports coach Travis Yang told KSAT.com that there has been a “noticeable increase” in gamers and tournaments as people were forced to stay at home.
 
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One-off events

One-off events
The Boston Marathon was canceled for the first time in 124 years. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Most recent developments among other sports:

AUGUST 21

  • After hoping to allow a decreased percentage of spectators to the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced on Friday afternoon that no fans will be welcomed to the event postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

AUGUST 4

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway has once again reversed course and declared that the Indianapolis 500 held on Aug. 23 will occur without fans in the stands due to the worsening coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

JULY 1

  • The 2020 Mexico City Marathon announced that the race scheduled for Aug. 30 is canceled. According to Mexico News Daily, the event drew roughly 30,000 runners last year. Read more here.

JUNE 26

  • The Indianapolis 500, set for Aug. 23, became the latest American sporting event to welcome fans amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles confirmed the news, stating, "We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50 percent of venue capacity." Per Shanna McCarriston of CBS Sports, Indianapolis Motor Speedway carries a capacity of around 235,000. The official announcement also explained that individuals who do not wish to attend, such as those considered high-risk, will receive credits. Safety items such as masks and hand sanitizer will be distributed to all race attendees. Read more here.

JUNE 24

  • The world's largest marathon in New York City has officially been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Jackie Salo of the New York Post. The five-borough race, which hosts more than 50,000 runners from across the globe, would've celebrated its 50th anniversary on Nov. 1. It is now set to take place on Nov. 7, 2021. Read more here.

JUNE 23

  • The Haspa Marathon Hamburg, which was postponed from April, is set to occur on Sept. 13. The race is expecting 10,000 to 14,000 runners. However, Americans might not be among thm. Action Network's Darren Rovell reported that runners from "higher-risk COVID areas" will not be allowed to participate. A higher-risk area could include the United States. Read more here.

JUNE 13

  • Approximately 20,000 rugby fans in New Zealand packed the stands to watch the Otago Highlanders take on the Waikato Chiefs in the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition. New Zealand lifted nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions earlier in the week, as no new cases have been reported for more than 20 days and the death toll is at just 22 in the country since the pandemic started. Read more here.

MAY 28

  • The Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for April 20 but postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, was canceled and converted into a virtual experience. It's the first time in 124 years the Marathon won't run. Read more here.

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