Colts GM Chris Ballard: 'There's consequences' for unvaccinated players

The Indianapolis Colts brass is not holding back following an issue relating to COVID-19 within their roster heading into Week 1.

© Robert Scheer/The Indianapolis Star via Imagn Content Services, LLC Colts general manager Chris Ballard believes everyone should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier this week, head coach Frank Reich seemed to put quarterback Carson Wentz and others on blast. Wentz joined center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal in being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday after coming into close contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus. All three are not vaccinated.

In talking about this to the media on Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard might have provided the strongest language to date, via ESPN’s Mike Wells:

“There’s consequences to not being vaccinated. Do I think everybody should be vaccinated? Absolutely. I’m for the vaccine. (Coach) Frank (Reich) is for the vaccine. We have a lot of guys on our team who are for the vaccine. Is it 100% perfect? No. But it’s a good thing.

“It can help you from ending up in the hospital in a critical situation. And it helps stop some of the spread, and those are positive things. But for the guys who have chosen to not get vaccinated, they still understand they’re still part of this team, it’s their decision, but they’re still part of our team and they have to take care of the team.”

Ballard is talking about two aspects of the COVID situation within both the Colts organization and the rest of the NFL.

First off, he’s talking about helping prevent the spread of the virus within the locker room. Logically speaking, that will also help prevent a team from being at a competitive disadvantage once the regular season starts.

Secondly, Ballard is seemingly calling out those within the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room who are not vaccinated. By remaining unvaccinated, said players are putting the season at risk. He expanded on that, too:

“Look, I can beat my head against the wall. I can go in there and raise all kinds of hell and go off. That’s not how we roll. I believe in our guys. I believe in what they stand for, and I’ll stand by them. We’ll continue to work on the vaccinations. It’s not like we’re done educating … But they understand they have to take care of the protocols at hand and they have to live by them. And we’ll do that at the best of the ability we can do it.”

Indianapolis Colts and the COVID-19 situation

Indianapolis heads into its season opener against the Seattle Seahawks as one of the least vaccinated teams in the NFL. It already has Wentz sidelined for the second time this summer after he suffered a foot injury early during training camp.

Coming off a 2020 campaign in which they won 11 games, the Colts are relying on Wentz to be the difference. They lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Bills last January and want to go deeper into the playoffs.

At this point, the best asset is availability. Ballard and the Colts brass are making a statement in this regard given that his comments come one day after head coach Frank Reich opened up with the same opinion.

They also come at a time when the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars are under fire following comments from head coach Urban Meyer indicating that vaccination status played a role in roster decisions.

This is going to be a major backstory around the NFL for a second consecutive season. That’s no more true than with the Indianapolis Colts.

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Related slideshow: COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues (Provided by Yardbarker)

COVID-19 and sports: Latest updates across all leagues

It’s been more than 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 was completed, but the league was 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.

NBA

Here is what has happened over the last couple of weeks in the NBA:SEPTEMBER 1Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that unvaccinated players in certain markets with COVID-19 protocols in place will not be able to play home games this coming season. Said markets include New York City and San Francisco. The new protocols do not include non-vaccinated opposing players, who are exempt from them. Read more here.AUGUST 28The NBA and National Basketball Referees Association reached an agreement that will require all officials to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season, the league announced Saturday. Referees with a religious or medical exemption will not be required to get the vaccine. Officials also agreed to get any recommended booster shots. Referees who choose not to be vaccinated and are not exempt will not be allowed to work any games during the 2021-22 season. Read more here.AUGUST 27The NBA told teams that non-playing personnel who work within 15 feet of referees and players during games must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 1. Coaches, front-office members, trainers, broadcasters, scoreboard operators, photographers, and anybody else who has direct contact with players either on or near the court or behind the scenes are named in the league directive. Read more here.AUGUST 20According to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN), a new club policy mandates that all Heat employees must be at least in the process of getting fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 1. Employees who refuse by that date and cannot prove “a qualifying medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief” for why they won’t receive one of the safe and available shots won’t be permitted to work. Those who continue to object will ultimately be deemed to have resigned from their posts. Read more here.AUGUST 13The Brooklyn Nets and home venue the Barclays Center confirmed Friday the will make fans show proof of either a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test to attend home games for the upcoming NBA season. “In accordance with the mandate recently announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Barclays Center will soon be requiring all employees and guests to be fully vaccinated,” information on the arena’s website states. Read more here.AUGUST 8The NBA announced Sunday afternoon that the summer league game between the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers had been postponed due to health and safety protocols. Because the Wizards have several players in contact tracing, they didn’t have enough of them available to play Sunday night against the Pacers. Read more here.AUGUST 4According to the Associated Press, 491 people deemed confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases could be linked with Milwaukee playoff games. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services does note, however, that it can’t be determined how many individuals caught the virus either at the arena or at viewing gatherings. Read more here.JULY 6Adam Silver admitted that the compressed schedule could have had an effect on the unusually high number of severe injuries this season, saying “I have no doubt the physical stress and mental toll has contributed to injuries,” according to USA Today’s Mark Medina. He admitted that, considering the extraordinary circumstances, it’s hard to say whether the choices they made were the right ones, per Medina. “Quite frankly,” Silver said, “we might not know for quite a while after this pandemic is over, whether we made the right decision or not.” Read more here.JUNE 10The NBA’s 2021-22 regular season will tip off on Oct. 19, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. In addition, training camps begin Sept. 28, the playoffs start April 16, 2022, the NBA Finals tip off Jun 2 and the 2022 draft will take place June 23. Read more here.

MLB

Here is the latest MLB news from the past couple of weeks:SEPTEMBER 1September is finally here, and MLB Network’s COVID-19 vaccine policy is officially in effect. The policy makes it mandatory that all MLB Network employees are vaccinated against the coronavirus, but two members of the team are reportedly unwilling to get the shot. According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Al Leiter and John Smoltz, both of whom are analysts for MLB Network, refused the vaccine and will no longer be able to appear in-studio as a result. However, they’ll still be a part of the network, making a “compromise” with executives to stay on in their roles while working from home. Read more here.Boston Red Sox infielder Yairo Munoz is the latest player in the organization to test positive for COVID-19, manager Alex Cora announced. The Red Sox now have a combination of 11 players and coaches sidelined due to the coronavirus. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts; utility man Enrique Hernandez; second baseman Christian Arroyo; and pitchers Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura and Martin Perez tested positive for COVID-19 while left-hander Josh Taylor and first-base coach Tom Goodwin are in quarantine as close contacts. Quality control coach Ramon Vazquez has also tested positive for the virus. The Red Sox were forced to pull Bogaerts from Tuesday’s 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the second inning after he returned a positive COVID-19 test.Boston’s coronavirus outbreak began last week, and it comes in the home stretch of the regular season as the club continues to fight for a playoff spot. Read more here.AUGUST 28The Athletics placed Seth Brown on the injured list after a positive COVID-19 test, per Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Read more here.AUGUST 27The Phillies placed Zach Eflin, Luke Williams and Andrew Knapp on the COVID-19 injured list. The three players were all fully vaccinated but have apparently tested positive for the virus, relays Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Read more here.Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that infielder Enrique Hernandez is out indefinitely after testing positive for the coronavirus. Additionally, second baseman Christian Arroyo was added to the COVID-19 injured list after being deemed a close contact of Hernandez’s. Read more here.AUGUST 24The Astros activated outfielder Kyle Tucker from the COVID-19 injured list. Read more here.AUGUST 23The Rangers placed infielder Brock Holt and right-handers Drew Anderson and Mike Foltynewicz on the COVID-19-related injured list, per a club announcement. Texas also scratched catcher Jonah Heim due to COVID protocols, though Heim has not yet been placed on the COVID-related injured list. Monday’s placements come just days after Charlie Culberson was placed on the COVID IL. Read more here.The Rays place Nelson Cruz on he COVID-related injury list Sunday as a precautionary measure since he was feeling ill. However, since Cruz has since tested negative for COVID-19, he should be activated prior to the Rays’ game on Tuesday against the Phillies. Read more here.AUGUST 18The Yankees announced they’ve activated first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the COVID-19 injured list. Rizzo returns 10 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.AUGUST 17New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole returned from the COVID-19 injured list Monday, and the Yankees announced additional good news ahead of Tuesday’s doubleheader versus the rival Boston Red Sox. The Yankees activated both catcher Gary Sanchez and starting left-hander Jordan Montgomery off the COVID-19 IL on Tuesday morning. Montgomery hit the IL Aug. 3, while Sanchez reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus on Aug. 5. Read more here.AUGUST 15Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly has tested positive for COVID-19, per Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. He will now have to go on the IL and quarantine for at least 10 days. Read more here.New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will start Monday against the Los Angeles Angels after battling COVID-19, manager Aaron Boone announced Sunday, according to Sports Illustrated’s Max Goodman. Read more here.In addition to Cole, manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News, that Jordan Montgomery will be activated from the COVID-related injury list . While Montgomery will face the Red Sox on Tuesday in one half of a doubleheader. Additionally, catcher Gary Sanchez started a Double-A rehab assignment Sunday and could potentially be activated for one of those games against the Red Sox. Read more here.AUGUST 12The Milwaukee Brewers lost nine players to the COVID-19 injured list from July 27 through Aug. 7. Among them were All-Star closer Josh Hader and fellow southpaw Eric Lauer, who kept in shape by catching bullpen sessions for each other during their absences from the team. Hader was reinstated to the active list ahead of Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. Lauer, meanwhile, could return Friday if he passes the required tests. Read more here.AUGUST 10The Brewers announced that right-hander Jake Cousins has been reinstated from the COVID-19 injury list. Cousins returns after the mandatory 10-day quarantine period following a positive coronavirus test. The Brewers still have six more players on their COVID list, but between Cousins, Hunter Strickland and Christian Yelich all returning in recent days, the club is slowly starting to make its way back from this outbreak. Read more here.Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly has been away from the team since July 31 when he tested positive for COVID-19 even though he’s been fully vaccinated against the virus since mid-April. Mattingly will rejoin the club Friday ahead of a home weekend series against the Chicago Cubs after the 60-year-old experienced mild virus symptoms. Bench coach James Rowson has served as interim manager in Mattingly’s absence. Read more here.The Rays reinstated  outfielder Randy Arozarena from the COVID-related injury list and placed southpaw Ryan Yarbrough on it. League rules don’t require Yarbrough’s exact situation to be made public, so it isn’t known whether or not the lefty tested positive for the coronavirus himself or if he is being held out as a precautionary measure due to contact tracing or symptoms. (Yarbrough had another brief one-day stint on the COVID-IL earlier this season due to vaccine side effects.) Arozarena returns after just a few days on the COVID-IL for being a close contact to a positive case. Read more here.AUGUST 8New York Yankees star Anthony Rizzo has tested positive for COVID-19, landing him on the COVID list and sidelining him for at least the next week of action. Read more here.AUGUST 7The Boston Red Sox announced Saturday that All-Star slugger J.D. Martinez has been placed on the COVID-19 injured list after he reported to the club that he was not feeling well. Read more here.The Brewers have activated outfielder Christian Yelich from the COVID-19 injury list, manager Craig Counsell told reporters, via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Unfortunately for the Brewers, right-hander Adrian Houser was officially placed on the COVID list. Read more here.AUGUST 6The Dodgers announced they’ve reinstated Trea Turner from the COVID-19 injured list. The All-Star shortstop came over in the Max Scherzer trade. The 28-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before the trade, however, so he’s remained in isolation until Friday. Read more here.The Brewers have been dealing with virus spread throughout the clubhouse in recent days, and another pair of players has tested positive. Starter Adrian Houser and reliever Jandel Gustave tested positive and were placed on the COVID IL, manager Craig Counsell told reporters, via Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Read more here.AUGUST 5The Rockies announced they reinstated right-handers Antonio Senzatela and Yency Almonte from the COVID-19 injured list. Senzatela and Almonte landed on the IL on July 16, with the Rockies dealing with coronavirus spread upon their return from the All-Star break. Both players wound up missing a little less than three weeks. Read more here.According to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN), New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone confirmed ahead of Thursday’s game against the Seattle Mariners that catcher Gary Sanchez has tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.AUGUST 3Per Greg Joyce of the New York Post, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed during a Tuesday appearance on New York sports radio station WFAN that starter Jordan Montgomery has tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.AUGUST 2Mariners outfielder Jake Fraley has been activated from the COVID-19 injured list. Fraley tested positive for COVID on July 18, and he’s missed the past two weeks recuperating. Read more here.

NHL

Here is what the NHL has been doing over the past couple of weeks to prepare for he league’s resumption:AUGUST 14NHL players were “strongly encouraged” by the NHL Players’ Association last week to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and warned of potential consequences if they do not do so, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo and Katie Strang. Players could potentially lose out on pay if they are unvaccinated and contract COVID-19 during the 2021-22 season. Teams might also withhold pay if an unvaccinated player can’t accompany his team on road trips where local or federal authorities require vaccination to enter, The Athletic adds. Read more here.AUGUST 4Last year was tough for many prospects, but perhaps none quite as much as Marco Rossi. Dealing with complications from COVID-19, Rossi was not only held off the ice but told he couldn’t even train, allowed on only short walks. His account of the situation is absolutely harrowing, as he told Michael Russo of The Athletic that “every time before I went to sleep, I was so scared that I won’t wake up anymore.” For a 19-year-old kid who was selected ninth overall and could have potentially made the jump immediately to the NHL, it was devastating. Now, after a long recovery period, Rossi is ready to return to action. Russo and colleague Scott Wheeler both report that the young forward will take part in the Olympic qualifiers later this month, suiting up for Austria. The games take place between Aug. 26-29, while the training camp will open on Aug. 16 and include two exhibition matches. Read more here.JUNE 20TVA’s Renaud Lavoie was the first to report that Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon has tested positive for COVID-19. Vegas has stated that McCrimmon is self-isolating and will follow the NHL’s COVID Protocol and all other local health policies. Read more here.APRIL 29There will not be a traditional Calder Cup playoffs in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the AHL will forgo postseason contests. Each of the four divisions was given the opportunity to decide a postseason format, and while the Atlantic, North, Canadian and Central will all simply award the divisional champion based on regular-season points percentage, the Pacific Division is going to have a playoff tournament. Also in the announcement comes news on the 2021-22 season, which is set to begin on Oct. 15, 2021, and conclude on April 24, 2022. The divisions will likely be put back to normal, but an announcement will come later this summer. Read more here.APRIL 27As per a report by Elliotte Friedman, the NHL is going to hold teams accountable to their actions when it comes to the COVID virus and doing their part to stop the spread. Specifically, if players break protocols that lead to multiple illnesses during the playoffs, there could be huge consequences. Essentially, if a player(s) breaks the rules when it comes to COVID protocols and it costs their team a number of players because the virus spreads, the NHL won’t first look to reschedule games. Instead, they’ll look at why the breakout and spread of the virus occurred and the team could be penalized by having to pull out of the NHL postseason. Read more here.APRIL 21According to TSN and RDS hockey insider Pierre LeBrun, the tentative date for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season is currently set for Oct. 12, with training camps hopefully able to open Sept. 22. Read more here.APRIL 20Though it had been clear for the last few weeks, Tuesday brought the death knell for the 2020-21 OHL season. The junior league announced the end of its return-to-play plans, stating that the recent extended stay-at-home order in Ontario along with the increasing cases of COVID-19 has made it impossible to hold a season. Read more here.APRIL 19The Western Hockey League, whose teams did not begin regular season play until late February at the earliest, will play no more than their shortened 24-game season this year. The league has announced that there will be no 2021 WHL Playoffs due to “the ongoing challenges with COVID-19.” Read more here.

NFL

Here are updates from around the NFL:SEPTEMBER 1Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said he and general manager Trent Baalke took a player’s vaccination status into consideration when making final roster cuts. “Everyone was considered,” Meyer said, according to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. “That was part of the [considerations such as] production, let’s start talking about this, and also is he vaccinated or not? Can I say that that was a decision-maker? It was certainly in consideration.” NFL Players Association assistant executive director for external affairs George Atallah told ESPN that Meyer’s comments “have led us to open an investigation.” It’s unclear what the consequences might be. Read more here.On Wednesday, the Jaguars released a statement that insisted no player was released based on vaccination status alone. However, the team admitted that “availability is one of the many factors taken into account when making roster decisions.” Read more here.New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media Wednesday for the first time since releasing Cam Newton and naming rookie quarterback Mac Jones QB1. There was speculation that Newton’s vaccination status played a role in his release. Belichick denied the rumors, adding that plenty of vaccinated players and staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 this summer. Read more here.AUGUST 31Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel appears to be in good spirits and ready to get back to work after being away from the team due to COVID-19. Vrabel missed the Titans’ preseason finale against the Chicago Bears after he tested positive for COVID-19 one week prior. Wide receivers coach Rob Moore, offensive line assistant Jason Houghtaling and rookie wide receiver Racey McMath also missed Sunday’s game because of the league’s health and safety protocols. Read more here.AUGUST 30The Indianapolis Colts placed quarterback Carson Wentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Monday. Center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal were also placed on the list. Read more here.AUGUST 28Two days after being fined by the NFL for violating COVID-19 protocols, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie received his first COVID-19 vaccine shot. McKenzie shared a photo of his vaccine card to his Instagram story on Saturday, writing, “For the greater good.” He was fined $14,650 on Thursday for repeatedly not wearing a mask at the Bills facility. Read more here.Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh did not travel with the team to Houston for a preseason matchup against the Texans and has reportedly been added to the reserve/COVID-19 list, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. Suh is the fourth Bucs player this week to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, joining kicker Ryan Succop and offensive linemen Nick Leverett and Earl Watford. Read more here.AUGUST 26Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, a vocal opponent of the COVID-19 vaccine, has been in the NFL’s health and safety protocols after a staff member tested positive and he was deemed a close contact. Beasley responded to his situation on Thursday, and was critical of the stipulations that are keeping him sidelined. Responding to fellow wideout Isaiah McKenzie, who was cited by the league for not wearing a mask around the Bills’ facility, Beasley questioned why masks were necessary in the first place based on his specific incident. Read more here.The Tennessee Titans received some bad news on Thursday, as starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill went on the COVID-19 list and will miss five to 10 days. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe provided further details on Tannehill’s status, indicating that Tennessee is working to contain a potential outbreak situation, as multiple personnel, including head coach Mike Vrabel, have tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.Additionally, the Titans have placed Harold Landry, tight end Geoff Swaim, linebacker Justin March-Lillard, running back Jeremy McNichols, linebacker Nick Dzubnar and defensive tackle Anthony Rush on their reserve/COVID list this week. Special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman is also away from the team due to COVID. Not everyone in this group has tested positive. Read more here. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that 25 players had been fined for violations of mask-wearing or refusal to wear a tracking device. Approximately 120 players have received warnings as well. Read more here.Green Bay Packers starting quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers told reporters Thursday he is vaccinated against the coronavirus. “It’s a personal decision. It’s an interesting issue,” Rodgers explained while adding he won’t criticize teammates who still haven’t gotten one of the available vaccines. Read more here.On a conference call Thursday, the NFL’s general counsel said that they have proposed weekly testing of vaccinated players to the players’ union. Read more here.Per Charean Williams of PFT, NFL deputy general counsel Larry Ferazani said the league once proposed mandatory vaccines. Read more here.AUGUST 25Speaking one day after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop tested positive for the coronavirus following a dinner with members of the Tennessee Titans, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians made it clear “there’s league rules and then there’s my rules” regarding what his players will be allowed to do during road trips starting next month. “We ain’t going anywhere,” Arians explained, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “For us, life is not normal. We’re going to be under pretty much the same protocols as last year. Tennessee coming in and going out to dinner, they found out the hard way.” Read more here.AUGUST 24Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who has used his celebrity to preach against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, now has to miss five days of practice after coming into contact with a member of the training staff who tested positive for the virus. Fellow wide receiver Gabriel Davis has to go through the five-day re-entry process as well. Read more here.Per Mark Norris of Fox 4 News, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones left little doubt during his weekly radio appearance on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan that he feels strongly about employees and other individuals getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying that it’s part of the “common good.” Read more here.Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed kicker Ryan Succop tested positive for the coronavirus. Succop is considered fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and, thus, should be cleared for the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 9. Read more here.AUGUST 23Cam Newton has been ruled ineligible to practice for five days due to COVID-19 protocols. The Patriots announced the news in a statement on Monday and explained that Newton traveled out of the New England area on Saturday for a team-approved medical treatment. As the Patriots described it, there was a “misunderstanding” about COVID-19 tests that are conducted away from team facilities. Read more here.The Jaguars announced outside linebacker Josh Allen has been placed on the COVID-19 list. It’s unclear if he tested positive for the virus or was put on the list based on contact tracing. Read more here.The Vikings had an epidemiologist speak with players Monday about the safety of the vaccines to encourage unvaccinated individuals to get their shots ahead of the regular-season opener at the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 12. “I just care about these players and I care about their families,” Mike Zimmer told reporters. “That’s my main reason. If they miss a game because they get COVID, so be it. But I don’t want them to get sick and I don’t want their families to get sick and their kids to get sick or my grandkids to get sick.” Zimmer admitted, however, that he’s not sure Dr. Michael Osterholm was able to change the minds of those who haven’t yet been vaccinated. It’s believed quarterback Kirk Cousins is among Minnesota players who haven’t gotten a shot. Read more here.According to Todd Archer of ESPN, the Cowboys switched to a virtual format for Sunday and Monday and added wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and safeties Malik Hooker and Israel Mukuamu to the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Read more here.AUGUST 22Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced Sunday in a videoconference, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Read more here.AUGUST 20Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back  Barry Sanders announced on Friday that he’s “staying in” after testing positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, Sanders’ post on Twitter specified that he was symptom-free, and he added that he’s been fully vaccinated, which should help him make a complete recovery. Read more here.AUGUST 19The Atlanta Falcons made headlines on Monday by  announcing they had become the first NFL team to have all players vaccinated against COVID-19. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio offered an update on that story Thursday. According to Florio, the Falcons cut two unvaccinated players as part of their latest roster trimming which resulted in the club reaching the 100% vaccination rate. Both the NFL and NFL Players Association have repeatedly said since the spring that players cannot be forced to get vaccinated against the coronavirus to keep their roster spots, but it has widely been believed for months that so-called “fringe” or “bubble” players could be cut during training camp and/or the preseason if they refused to get one of the available and safe vaccines. Read more here.AUGUST 18Dion Dawkins has not participated in team drills throughout Bills training camp, and Sean McDermott said the team’s starting left tackle is not close to being ready to return to full work. Dawkins landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list July 28 and required hospitalization after contracting the virus, Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN.com reports. Read more here.AUGUST 17The Las Vegas Raiders made headlines Monday by becoming the league’s first team to require fans show proof of vaccination to attend games. New York Giants co-owner John Mara admitted Tuesday he wishes all personnel required for completing games this season would be vaccinated against COVID-19. “I’d prefer that everybody be vaccinated,” Mara told reporters. “I would’ve preferred that it would’ve been mandatory for players to get vaccinated. But the Players Association did not share that view, so we are where we are, which is not a bad spot to be in. Obviously, I’d like it to be 100% [of players vaccinated], because I think it’s the right thing to do.” Mara added the Giants aren’t following in the footsteps of the Raiders and requiring fans prove they are vaccinated to attend home games, but he didn’t entirely rule the notion out. Read more here.Add the Carolina Panthers to the growing list of NFL teams requiring fans to wear proper face coverings in indoor areas of stadiums. Read more here.AUGUST 16Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera is getting tired of people spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Rivera expressed his frustration about Americans listening to people other than their doctors regarding the vaccine. Read more here.Football fans planning on attending Saturday’s preseason game between the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field will need to bring proper face coverings. “The Steelers and Heinz Field Management are requiring that all guests, staff and vendors at Heinz Field, regardless of their vaccination status, wear a mask while visiting all indoor areas of the stadium,” the Steelers told ticket holders via an email shared on the club’s website. “Regardless of vaccination status, all guests, staff and vendors at Heinz Field will be required to wear a mask while visiting any of the indoor areas of the stadium. Indoor areas include Club lobbies and lounges (UPMC Club, West Club, PNC Champions Club and North Club), Steelers Pro Shop locations, Restrooms, Elevators and other enclosed areas.” The Steelers also added fans don’t have to wear masks in the seating bowls or any other outdoor seating or concourse areas. Read more here.The Falcons confirmed on Monday they have all of their players fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They are the NFL’s first team to hit a 100% vaccination rate among players. Read more here.AUGUST 13While touching upon the subject of the NFL and NFLPA potentially agreeing to mandatory player vaccines, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported “‘a ton’ of star players are opposed to the vaccine.” Florio added that a source from “the management side of the ledger” told him mandatory player coronavirus vaccines “won’t happen and can’t happen, that the union would never approve of it.” Read more here.Per Kevin Patra of the league’s website, the Bears activated starting defensive tackle Eddie Goldman off the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday. Read more here.AUGUST 12NFL teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are requiring patrons to wear proper face coverings in indoor areas of their stadiums because of fears related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Fans of the New Orleans Saints will have to go one step further to see their team in person this season. According to a NOLA.com report, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is expected to declare that individuals will have to show proof of either a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative virus test to enter New Orleans public places such as bars, restaurants, concert venues and the Caesars Superdome, home of the Saints. Read more here.On Thursday, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio updated that five clubs were still below an 88% vaccination rate as of Wednesday morning. One team had reached only 74% heading into the first full weekend of preseason games. Read more here.AUGUST 10NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted on Tuesday that the league is once again allowing for an unlimited number of players to return from the injured reserve list for the upcoming campaign. Additionally, players will be eligible to return from IR after missing a minimum of three games instead of eight. Read more here.AUGUST 9Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson still is undecided on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine despite being infected with the virus twice in the past eight months. “I just got off the COVID list,” Jackson said after Monday’s practice when asked if he would get the vaccine, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “I got to talk to my team about this and see how they feel about it. Keep learning as much as I can about it. We’ll go from there.” Jackson returned to training camp Saturday after being sidelined for 10 days following a positive COVID-19 test. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Jackson was experiencing “a lot of COVID symptoms” while he was out. The former MVP added that he was not worried about the long-term effects of getting the virus. Read more here.Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post tweeted Monday that 86% of WFT’s players are now at least partially vaccinated against the coronavirus, up from 36% as of early July. 59.3% of players are fully vaccinated. Read more here.AUGUST 7Since doubling down on his stance regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, a hospital Kirk Cousins partners with in his hometown of Holland, Michigan, cut ties with the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. Read more here.AUGUST 6Cam Newton missed time during the 2020 season due to testing positive for COVID-19, and he said in February that his brief absence set him and the entire Pats offense back through the remainder of the campaign. Knowing Newton could be sidelined at any time due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, a reporter reasonably asked him Thursday if he has been vaccinated against the virus, but the QB refused to answer. Read more here.AUGUST 5The NFL Players Association released new guidance on Thursday for vaccinated individuals, and Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham seems frustrated by it. In a new memo that was circulated, the NFLPA announced that COVID-19 testing will be increased for vaccinated players and staff members. The number of tiered staff allowed in the locker room is also being reduced. The release cited the fact that 32 players and staffers who are vaccinated have tested positive for COVID-19. Vaccinated individuals will now be tested each day they enter their team’s facility. Graham shared a copy of the new guidance on Twitter and said he is “confused” by it. The veteran says he was essentially “forced” into getting vaccinated to begin with. Read more here.AUGUST 4According to Courtney Cronin of ESPN, Minnesota starting signal-caller Kirk Cousins and backup Nate Stanley are expected to return to practice Thursday after spending five full days on the COVID-19 list. Both were deemed high-risk close contacts when rookie quarterback Kellen Mond tested positive for the coronavirus. Read more here.AUGUST 3Vikings owner Mark Wilf told reporters on Tuesday he is worried about only 70% of players having at least one of their COVID-19 shots and is putting in the effort to make that number go up. Read more here.Maryland Governor Larry Hogan was asked on Tuesday about Lamar Jackson’s positive test, and he urged the former MVP to get vaccinated. Read more here.Eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson signed with the Vikings this past offseason and, per Judd Zulgad of SkorNorth.com, urged his teammates to complete their vaccination processes as soon as possible during his “All Things Covered” podcast. Read more here.AUGUST 2According to Ben Fischer and John Lombardo of Sports Business Journal, the NFL is mandating coronavirus vaccines for league employees who don’t have qualifying disabilities or “sincerely held religious belief or practice” that would keep them from  getting one of the shots. Those who aren’t vaccinated are to begin the  process Monday and be fully vaccinated by Sept. 6 or apply for an  exception by Monday. The league’s attorneys and human resources staff  will review each request. Over 90% of the NFL’s employees in its New York City office are already vaccinated. Read more here.AUGUST 1The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the defending Super Bowl champions, and according to head coach Bruce Arians, they are nearly 100 percent defended against COVID-19. Read more here.JULY 31WFT head coach Ron Rivera sent a warning to his team after two more players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, per ESPN’s John Keim. Washington now has six players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including Brandon Scherff, David Sharpe, Curtis Samuel and Matt Ioannidis. If this had been the case one day before the team’s season opener against the Chargers, then Scherff and Sharpe would also have missed the second game because it occurs on Thursday, Rivera noted. Read more here.JULY 30Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey told reporters Thursday that he will not pressure his teammates to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the 2021 season despite the consequences the deadly virus could have on the team’s season. Ramsey’s comments come after he tweeted last week that the NFL is “pressuring” players to get vaccinated. Read more here.Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill told reporters this week that he was originally not planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But when he found out how limited he would be under the NFL’s protocols for unvaccinated players, he decided to get the shot. Read more here.JULY 29NFL Players Association president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter had harsh words for teams that are forcing unvaccinated players to wear identifying wristbands. “So what it really comes down to is the NFL wanted to put a policy in place to try to shame unvaccinated players publicly about their status and make that known to everyone on the field,” Tretter said Thursday. “It shouldn’t be the case because it’s unnecessary. We all know who’s vaccinated and who’s not, and it doesn’t need to be a scarlet marking on people’s helmets or wrists.” Tretter also called the decision to wear wristbands “nonsensical” since unvaccinated players already need to wear masks. “No other sports league uses any sort of scarlet marking or helmet decal or wristband, because they know it’s not necessary and the teams know who’s vaccinated, who’s not vaccinated,” he said. Read more here.JULY 27The NFL community was surprised to learn this past Friday that Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach/run game coordinator Rick Dennison was parting ways with the organization after he refused to receive one of the available and safe COVID-19 vaccines, but the Vikings later shared a statement with Pro Football Talk explaining the two parties were still having “discussions” on the subject. PFT’s Mike Florio now reports Dennison and the Vikings have reached an agreement that will allow him to remain with the club. Florio added that Dennison previously requested to be exempt from receiving one of the shots. Coaches can gain an exemption based on legitimate health or religious reasons, and it’s unclear if Dennison agreed to get vaccinated or is working as an unvaccinated coach who won’t be permitted to have direct interactions with players per the terms agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Read more here.Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards won’t be a participant in the early days of training camp. Edwards tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss at least the first 10 days of camp due to the league’s coronavirus-related protocols. Read more here.JULY 26Terrelle Pryor has not played since the 2018 season, but he said a team has offered a workout. This will come to pass only if he has received the COVID-19 vaccine, which Pryor indicated he has not done as of this past weekend, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Read more here. Read more here.JULY 25Chad Speck, the president of Allegiant Athletic Agency, tweeted on Saturday that an NFL team showed interest in one of his clients. However, the team dropped interest upon learning the player was unvaccinated. Read more here.A player’s vaccination status appears to be crucial for free agents looking for new homes. According to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, agents for several free-agent players said clubs are immediately asking if their clients are vaccinated. Read more here.JULY 24Bruce Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that he will fine any unvaccinated player $14,000 for not wearing a mask when he is supposed to or violating any of the NFL’s other COVID-19 protocols. The Bucs head coach added that players will not receive warnings, just fines on the spot. Read more here.We now have a better idea of why Arians made those comments. Unvaccinated NFL players will be subject to a $14,650 fine every time they violate COVID-19 protocols, league spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. Read more here.JULY 23According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, NFL chief football administrative officer Dawn Aponte said Friday teams haven’t been incentivized to cut players who won’t get vaccinated. Read more here.According to Courtney Cronin of ESPN, the Minnesota Vikings and assistant coach Rick Dennison have parted ways after Dennison refused to get vaccinated. Per Cronin, Dennison served as Minnesota’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator over the past two seasons before Friday’s development and is believed to be the first coach to leave a club over COVID-19 vaccinations. Read more here.However, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio shared a statement from the Vikings later in the day showing that may not be the case. “The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games,” the team explained. Read more here.ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports New England Patriots co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich won’t be with the organization for at least the 2021 NFL season because of the league’s protocols regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and unvaccinated personnel. Read more here.The Cardinals confirmed they’ve placed cornerback Lorenzo Burns on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Read more here.The NFL came out on Thursday and laid down the law when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Former nine-year defensive back Darius Butler tweeted Thursday that the league was “dead a– wrong” for the memo. He says the memo is so heavy-handed that it comes off as the league effectively forcing vaccines. Read more here.JULY 22In a memo that was issued to teams on Thursday, the NFL outlined its plans for dealing with coronavirus outbreaks during the 2021 season. The biggest takeaway was that teams could be forced to forfeit if a game cannot be played due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players. The NFL has no plans to add a 19th week to accommodate games that need to be rescheduled, which means any game that is rescheduled will have to be played at some point in the 18-week season. Otherwise, the team with the outbreak will be credited with a loss. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero shared more from the memo, which states that teams with outbreaks could also face disciplinary action and be responsible for financial losses. Players also will not receive their game checks if a game cannot be played. Read more here.According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, an email sent to union members Thursday in response to the memo reads: “We remind you that the same basic rules applied last year.” Read more here.Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was among the players to react negatively to the development, although he apparently had second thoughts and deleted an initial tweet suggesting he could consider retiring to avoid receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot. Read more here.JULY 21Although Cowboys living legend Michael Irvin recently slammed his former team for not reaching the 85% COVID-19 vaccination threshold among players, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was more optimistic about the situation, per Kevin Patra of the NFL’s website. Read more here.According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield wore a mask inside the team’s facility during June’s mandatory minicamp, which hinted he wasn’t yet fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. While speaking with reporters at his youth football camp Wednesday, however, Mayfield indicated his situation has since changed. Read more here.JULY 17The NFL and NFLPA are working on a way to identify unvaccinated players during games and practices, according to a report. Pro Football Talk says the two groups are working out the details for providing visual proof of who has not received the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.

Golf

The latest from the world of golf since competition resumed:AUGUST 17Jon Rahm heads into the FedEx Cup playoffs ranked No. 1 in the power rankings after he had to miss the Olympics due to testing positive for COVID-19. Read more here.AUGUST 4American golf star Bryson DeChambeau missed out on competing at the Summer Olympics after he tested positive for COVID-19. The 27-year-old is set to play in this week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and told reporters Wednesday he doesn’t regret remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19. DeChambeau added he lost “eight to 10 pounds” during his quarantine and needs to regain some clubhead speed before he can reclaim his best form on the course. Read more here.With COVID-19 cases surging throughout the United States due to different variants, the PGA Tour is going back to its previous guidelines of mandating that all individuals wear masks indoors at events regardless of their vaccination statuses. Read more here.JUNE 5Jon Rahm was on his way to what looked like a clear victory at the Memorial before being forced to withdraw Saturday under crushing circumstances. Rahm had a six-stroke lead, and after he finished his round, he spoke with officials before becoming visibly emotional. As it turned out, Rahm had tested positive for COVID-19, and was being informed of that fact. Under PGA Tour protocols, the positive test meant Rahm had to withdraw from the tournament despite his huge lead. Read more here.MAY 19ESPN’s Bob Harig reports vaccinated golfers won’t have to wear proper face coverings indoors at tournaments starting with next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas. Unvaccinated players must continue to wear masks until further notice. Harig added that the PGA scrapped its original plan to discontinue on-site testing in July and will instead maintain its current testing format through at least the Tour Championship in early September. Following that tournament, those not vaccinated will have to conduct at-home testing on their own to compete. Read more here.APRIL 28England’s Paul Casey, 43, told reporters on Thursday he’s already received both vaccine shots, in part, because he’s “willing to do the things necessary to get through” the pandemic. Read more here.

NASCAR

What’s the latest from the world of NASCAR:APRIL 25NASCAR will not require drivers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, president Steve Phelps said Sunday, according to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “It is important, in my opinion, that people get vaccinated,” Phelps said before the race at Talladega Superspeedway. Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin are among the few NASCAR drivers who have made it known that they received the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.MARCH 11More 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.

NCAA athletics

Here is the fallout from the most recent news from the NCAA:SEPTEMBER 1Dabo Swinney was irate when circumstances related to COVID-19 forced the cancellation of one of Clemson’s key games last year, but the coach seems optimistic that things will run more smoothly this season. Swinney shared some of his thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine while speaking with the media on Tuesday. He said there are “very few” people with the Clemson program who have not been vaccinated, which “gives you a whole lot more comfort level.” Read more here.AUGUST 30″In the event a team is unable to begin or complete a regular season conference event due to the unavailability of participants (due to COVID-19, injuries or other reasons), that team will forfeit the contest and will be assigned a loss in the conference standings,” the SEC announced in a release. “The opposing team that is ready to play will be credited with a win in the conference standings. Both teams will be deemed to have played and completed the contest for purpose of the conference standings. If both teams are unable to compete due to the unavailability of participants (due to COVID-19, injuries or other reasons), both teams shall be deemed to have forfeited the game, with a loss assigned to both teams and applied to the conference standings. Both teams will be deemed to have played and completed the contest for purpose of the conference standings.” Interestingly, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey can declare a game a “no contest” if “extraordinary circumstances warrant” such a decision. Read more here.AUGUST 27The University of Notre Dame is requiring that all students returning to campus be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Interestingly, individuals attending Notre Dame Fighting Irish home football games won’t have to follow similar protocols. Per guidelines announced by Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick on Friday, the wearing of masks or other proper face coverings will be optional for guests while outdoors or in non-enclosed spaces of Notre Dame Stadium. All fans are required to wear masks inside indoor areas of the stadium, and unvaccinated guests are “expected” to wear masks at all times. As Joshua Vowles noted for One Foot Down, the university is not requiring proof of vaccination to enter Notre Dame Stadium but added: “We will continue to monitor campus, local, state and national conditions to best protect our students, staff and attendees. On a weekly basis, we will re-evaluate our gameday policies and make applicable changes to protect our community.” Read more here.Add the Mountain West Conference to the list of leagues not intending to shift or delay schedules during fall seasons because of issues related to the coronavirus. Any game where both teams can’t safely field squads because of COVID-19 will be ruled a “no contest.” The Mountain West is not enforcing any minimum roster thresholds. Read more here.AUGUST 25According to Alex Scarborough of ESPN, Auburn Tigers head football coach Bryan Harsin somewhat elaborated on his feelings while speaking with reporters Wednesday as he remains isolated after testing positive for the virus last week. “Let me be clear. I am not anti-vaccine, and any narrative along those lines is misinformed,” Harsin said without directly confirming or denying that he’s been vaccinated. Read more here.AUGUST 24The LSU Tigers announced fans must show proof of either a COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test to attend home games. The policy will be in effect when the Tigers host the McNeese State Cowboys in their home opener on Sept. 11. Fans younger than 12 do not need to show proof of a negative test to attend games, but guests between five and 11 years old must wear proper face coverings inside the venue. Children under five are “encouraged” to wear masks. The school added in the release that the football team “has reached 99.1% vaccination.” Read more here. Auburn Tigers head football coach Bryan Harsin  confirmed last Friday that he was isolating away from team activities after he tested positive for COVID-19. On Tuesday, Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason took to Twitter to announce he has recovered from a breakthrough bout with the coronavirus. Mason also used the platform to encouraged those who haven’t yet been vaccinated to get their shots. Read more here.AUGUST 23The Big Ten joined the other power conferences on Monday by announcing its COVID-19 policies for the upcoming fall seasons ahead of Saturday’s football opener between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Illinois Fighting Illini. “The conference has determined that if one of its member institutions is unable to play a conference contest due to COVID-19, that contest shall be declared a forfeit and will not be rescheduled,” the Big Ten declared in an official statement. “That contest shall be considered a loss for the team impacted by COVID-19 and a win for its opponent in the conference standings. If both of the two competing teams are unable to participate in a scheduled conference competition due to COVID-19 and as a result the competition is unable to occur on the calendar day on which it is scheduled, the competition shall be considered a ‘no contest.'” Read more here.AUGUST 20Per Nathan King of 247Sports, Auburn head football coach Bryan Harsin is currently away from the team after testing positive for the virus. “Yesterday I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Harsin explained Friday. “I am isolating at home while experiencing no symptoms.” Read more here.AUGUST 19Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich said in July that he was not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 “for reasons which will remain private.” That, however, was before Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday that employees working in educational roles throughout the state must be vaccinated. According to Sean Quinton of the Seattle Times, Rolovich told reporters following Thursday’s practice that he will comply with the updated guidelines. Quinton explained that private and charter school employees have until Oct. 18 to get fully vaccinated unless they can prove medical or religious exemptions. Per reports, Rolovich is the only head football coach in the Pac-12 not vaccinated against the virus. Washington State is reportedly responsible for the conference’s lowest vaccination rate among players at 80%. Read more here.The ACC is the latest conference threatening to make football teams and other athletic programs forfeit during upcoming seasons if they’re unable to compete because of COVID-19 issues and/or concerns. The conference added that in a situation where both teams involved in a matchup can’t play because of coronavirus-related setbacks, both will be charged with forfeits and losses in the conference standings. Read more here.AUGUST 18Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban offered an update for his team’s vaccination rate when speaking with ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. “All but one of our guys has been vaccinated, but it could still be an issue,” Saban explained. Read more here.AUGUST 17The Big 12 announced its COVID-19 policy on Tuesday. The conference will force forfeits for teams that are unable to field squads because of COVID-19 issues or other setbacks. Read more here.AUGUST 12For the 2021 season, the Pac-12 decided to go back to counting games canceled due to player availability as forfeited losses, regardless of whether COVID-19 plays a role. “Any forfeited contest shall be regarded as a conference loss for the team making the forfeit and a conference win for its opponent,” the conference said in a statement obtained by ESPN. “The Pac-12 rule provides the Commissioner with discretion to determine whether an institution is at fault or primarily at fault for an instability to play a contest based on the facts of the situation.” The Pac-12 also updated its return-to-play protocols for the season. Read more here.AUGUST 8Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday there is a 100% vaccination rate among his players, coaches, staff members and everybody within the program who will be on the practice field, according to ESPN’s Chris Low. “It’s pretty amazing and great motivation for our fans and the state,” Kiffin told ESPN. Read more here.AUGUST 5The Florida Gators endured a serious and concerning COVID-19 outbreak last fall that temporarily threatened their season and reportedly included head coach Dan Mullen, two assistants, and approximately 30 total players testing positive for the virus. According to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN), Mullen told reporters Thursday his team will spend at least part of training camp in a hotel as fall practice begins Friday amid surging coronavirus cases throughout the state. Read more here.JULY 27Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich spoke during Tuesday’s Pac-12 media day session remotely because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. While the conference required all in-person participants to be vaccinated, Rolovich explained the university’s administration is respecting his decision and added he will follow all policies “for the unvaccinated.” “I’m not against vaccinations, and I wholeheartedly support those who choose to get vaccinated, including our players,” Rolovich said, according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. “I urge everyone to consider being vaccinated.” Rolovich reiterated he won’t publicly share why he’s not getting one of the available shots but said roughly 75% of the Washington State roster is either fully vaccinated or has begun the vaccination process. Read more here.JULY 22Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren explained during Thursday’s Media Day session that league presidents and chancellors agreed last month individual schools will first determine their own policies regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations among student-athletes. Read more here.Florida State coach Mike Norvell said Thursday his team is “getting closer each day” to reaching the 85% vaccination mark. “That’s something we’re working through,” he added. Norvell explained that former FSU and NFL player Myron Rolle, who currently works as a neurosurgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, spoke with players and answered questions they have about the available vaccines. Read more here.New Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told ESPN’s Heather Dinich he’s considering adopting a policy that involves forfeits for canceled games due to COVID setbacks among unvaccinated players. Read more here.JULY 21Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said his team is “pretty close to 90%” for COVID-19 vaccinations. While the legendary coach explained receiving one of the shots is a personal decision for his players, he added the vaccines are the best way to ensure his team can take the field for each scheduled game. Read more here.ACC commissioner Jim Phillips explained during Wednesday’s media days session his conference hasn’t yet decided on how to handle games impacted by coronavirus-related absences and issues. Phillips strongly encouraged unvaccinated individuals to get their shots but also said the conference is leaving vaccine mandates up to the individual schools. The ACC’s medical advisory group is expected to meet in the coming weeks to discuss protocols that could potentially lead to a team being unable to play during a week of the season. Read more here.Per Harry Lyles Jr. of ESPN, Washington State Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich announced Wednesday he will participate in Pac-12 media day next Tuesday remotely because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Read more here.JULY 20Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday that his team is over 85% for vaccinations, which allows for the loosening of some health and safety protocols. That doesn’t mean Smart is satisfied. “It’s not about a number,” Smart explained. “It’s not about a threshold. I think everybody wants to write who’s over and who’s under. What it’s really about is being able to save our season. Being able to keep our players safe. We want to keep our players safe. We want to keep our coaches and staff safe. We want to keep our family members safe, and that comes through vaccinations.” Smart also said vaccinated coaches have addressed players about why they received the shots. Read more here.JULY 19SEC commissioner Greg Sankey explained during Monday’s media days session that six of the conference’s 14 football teams have reached at least an 80% COVID-19 vaccination rate and that the “number needs to grow and grow rapidly.” Sankey added teams are “expected to play as scheduled” and could be made to accept losses if unable to field a squad during any particular week. “That means your team needs to be healthy to compete, and if not, that game won’t be rescheduled,” Sankey said. “And thus, to dispose of the game, the ‘forfeit’ word comes up at this point.” As of now, the SEC does not intend to postpone contests for coronavirus-related reasons this fall. While speaking about this plan, Sankey strongly encouraged players, coaches, staff members, and fans to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots if they’re not already immunized. Read more here.JULY 14Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby explained players will again be tested for the coronavirus and urged those hoping to participate in the upcoming campaign to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots if they haven’t already been immunized. Read more here.JUNE 1Penn State vice president for intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour confirmed Tuesday that the lifting of statewide health and safety protocols will allow Beaver Stadium to operate at 100% capacity for the 2021 season. The Penn State announcement added that tailgating and other traditional aspects of football game days will also return. PSU is shifting fully to mobile tickets for all sports and reducing physical contact points at venues. Read more here.MARCH 6The 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.

Tennis

Here is what has happened most recently in the world of tennis:AUGUST 27The United States Tennis Association announced Friday that fans 12 years of age or older must show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend the U.S. Open. Read more here.AUGUST 12While the main draw for the U.S. Open is scheduled to begin Aug. 30 in New York, the event’s qualifying rounds are held the week before and are typically open to the public. However, the United States Tennis Association confirmed Thursday that spectators will not be allowed to attend qualifying matches because of fears and issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Pro wrestling

Pro wrestling news over the past few weeks:JANUARY 11WWE 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 24Back 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 2Legendary 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.

UFC

Here’s the latest from the MMA world:APRIL 5While 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.

Boxing

What’s new in boxing:JULY 8The third match between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder that was scheduled for July 24 has been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak among Fury’s camp. Fury tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing symptoms. The 6-foot-9 heavyweight champion received one COVID-19 vaccine dose but did not get the second shot, according to boxing reporter Dan Rafael. Read more here.

Summer Olympics

The latest from the IOC:JULY 28Sam Kendricks was expected to earn a medal for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but that won’t be happening. Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to compete in the Summer Games. Read more here.JULY 23Many people in Japan are unhappy that their nation is hosting the Olympics with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, and that resulted in protests taking place outside the Opening Ceremony on Friday. The Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games was held at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday evening. Outside the stadium, hundreds of people gathered for a march during which they chanted things like, “Go to hell, Olympics!” Read more here.

MLS, NWSL

MLS and NWSL most recent developments:JULY 20For the second straight year, there will be no U.S. Open Cup due to COVID-19. The U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed on Tuesday that this year’s edition of the competition won’t take place “after not finding available match dates shared across the various participating leagues.” According to Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated, a proposal to hold an altered U.S. Open Cup format with 24 clubs in May and June was abandoned, and the federation explained Tuesday it’s now planning for next year instead of for the fall months. U.S. Soccer said Tuesday its board of directors will address the automatic berth for the 2022 Champions League in the coming weeks. Read more here.

International soccer

Most recent news from international soccer circles:AUGUST 25The Premier League declared Tuesday that its teams will not release players for September World Cup qualifiers held in countries on England’s “red list” because footballers would miss multiple club contests due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions upon their returns to England. According to Sky Sports, the British government currently has “no plans” to change its policies even after FIFA president Gianni Infantino requested exemptions for players in a message written to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Since Tuesday’s news, the English Football League and Spain’s La Liga have both backed the Premier League’s stance. Read more here.AUGUST 24The English top-flight confirmed Tuesday that none of its clubs will release players scheduled to participate in upcoming international fixtures held in red-list countries. Read more here.AUGUST 23Liverpool will not allow Mohamed Salah to play in Egypt’s upcoming World Cup qualifying matches because of COVID-19 restrictions, the country’s football association said Monday. Egypt is on England’s red list, which means Salah would be required to quarantine upon his return to the country and miss two Premier League games. Read more here.The English Premier League hasn’t yet had to postpone a match because of COVID-19 this season, but the top-flight nevertheless continues to encounter coronavirus-related issues this summer. On Monday, the league confirmed that it recorded 16 new positive COVID-19 tests from Aug. 16-22. Read more here.AUGUST 20Chelsea winger and United States men’s national team star Christian Pulisic tested positive for COVID-19, Blues manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed Friday. The 22-year-old has been absent from training this week as Chelsea prepares for a Premier League clash against Arsenal on Sunday. Pulisic will miss that match. Read more here.AUGUST 19Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and forward Alexandre Lacazette were both unavailable for last Friday’s Premier League opener at Brentford due to what were, at the time, unspecified illnesses. Ahead of this Sunday’s league clash with Chelsea, Arsenal confirmed Thursday that both players tested positive for COVID-19. “Auba is now negative on COVID-19 testing, is well and following all protocols for return to play,” Arsenal explained. “He will return to training and be assessed prior to Sunday’s match.” Lacazette, meanwhile, is still recovering and won’t be available for selection through the weekend. Additionally, Alex Runarsson and Willian also tested positive for the coronavirus. Runarsson has been ruled out for Sunday’s match, while a final decision on Willian’s status hasn’t yet been made. Read more here.AUGUST 16The English Premier League returned Friday with Brentford upsetting  Arsenal, and fans were back inside stadiums despite continued concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The English top-flight reminded everybody Monday that the health crisis is not over. “The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 9 August and Sunday 15 August, across two rounds of testing, 3,231 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19,” the league explained in its latest update. “Of these, there were 11 new positive tests.” Read more here.JULY 29COVID-19 continues to impact sports leagues located around the world. Manchester United announced Thursday that Saturday’s friendly versus Preston North End has been canceled due to positive COVID-19 cases within the team. Read more here.JULY 21On Tuesday, Premier League club Arsenal confirmed the cancellation of their preseason United States tour because of “a small number” of positive COVID-19 cases within their traveling party. Reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan were originally scheduled to face Arsenal in Orlando this coming Sunday as part of the Florida Cup competition but  announced Wednesday they also won’t be making the trip. Read more here.JULY 20Arsenal canceled their USA tour due to “a small number” of positive COVID-19 cases within members of their traveling party. Read more here.JULY 16Istanbul will be hoping the third time’s the charm. Reuters (h/t ESPN) noted Friday that UEFA has confirmed the locations for the next four Champions League finals. Notably, Istanbul was given the 2023 title match after losing a pair of such games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

WNBA

WNBA’s latest developments:JUNE 28The WNBA announced Monday that an astonishing 99% of its players are considered fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. “All 12 teams have met the threshold for being considered a fully-vaccinated team,” the Association added in its brief statement. No players have tested positive for the virus since the regular season started on May 14. Read more here.APRIL 13The 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.

International baseball

What has happened in international baseball:JULY 8During 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.

eSports

esports carries on:MAY 19Esports’ 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 4While 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.

One-off events

Most recent developments among other sports:AUGUST 21After 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 4Indianapolis 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 1The 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 26The 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 24The 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 23The 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 13Approximately 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 28The 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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