The Play by Play
No Kneeling in Football
On Wednesday, NFL owners decided unanimously (with one abstention from the owner of the 49ers) on a new national anthem policy. It requires that all players and team personnel on the field stand during the singing of the anthem, with an option to remain in the locker room if preferred. The owners made this decision without input from the NFL Players Association, whose executive director, DeMaurice Smith, took to twitter to underscore his, and others’, displeasure with the policy. Since Wednesday, some controversy has arisen as to whether the NFL actually took a formal roll-call vote on the issue. Changing policy with just an informal showing of hands is very atypical but some owners say that everyone’s opinion was heard, so it doesn’t really matter. Preseason starts early August so it will be a few months before we see how this will look in practice.
World’s Most Famous
Using a fancy formula, taking into account social media following, money made from endorsements, a Google Trend score, and other factors, ESPN identified 2018’s 100 most famous athletes in the world. The individuals in the top ten are likely of little surprise, with names like Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson ranks tenth despite having zero social media. He can most certainly thank his massive endorsements for his position on the list. Meanwhile, Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback of all time, sits in the 38th position, two spots behind a basketball player named Derrick Rose. This ranking certainly calls into question the weight given to each factor in the formula. Only four females break into the top 50, three of whom are tennis players (Serena, Venus and Maria Sharapova), and there are zero players from the MLB or NHL. Visit ESPN if you’re curious to read more individual stories about the athletes on the list.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female – Saina Nehwal (Badminton): The fourth most famous female athlete in the world, according to ESPN. The only non-tennis player in the top five, Nehwal has won two consecutive bronze medals at the World Championships. What’s more, she took home a gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and helped India win its first ever team event. She’s contributed so much to Indian sports there’s already a biopic in the works.
Brandon Crawford (Baseball): A shortstop for the San Francisco Giants who hit a home run in Tuesday’s game against the Astros. Many might think this uneventful but knowing the pitcher, Gerrit Cole, is Brandon’s brother-in-law makes it a bit more entertaining. The two keep in good spirits about playing each other. When facing Cole for the first time, Crawford broke a bat which he subsequently sent to his brother-in-law in the mail. Following Tuesday’s home run, Gerrit Cole wrote “Outta Here” on his cleats and had them delivered to Crawford after the game. Despite the gifts and even though the two chat baseball regularly, they rarely discuss the games in which they face each other. Probably the best way to keep family reunions civil.
Jason Seaman (Football): A former defensive lineman at Southern Illinois who was injured in a school shooting on Friday. A science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School outside of Indianapolis, Seaman ran at and successfully disarmed the gunman. Shot three times in the stomach while tackling him to the ground, Jason remains in the hospital in good condition. If not for his valiant efforts, there’s no doubt more than one student would have been hurt.
Las Vegas Golden Knights v. Washington Capitals (Hockey): What started as a field of 16 has winnowed down to the final two: The Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. These two teams, neither of whom have ever won the championship, will face off in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. For the Capitals, this isn’t completely new territory, as they’ve been in this position once before. The team made their first, and only, Finals appearance twenty years ago, where they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. It’s been roughly 7,293 days since the team’s been back and you can bet that Ovechkin doesn’t plan to leave empty handed.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights enter the finals looking to become the first expansion team to win the championship in its inaugural season. Made up of individuals that other teams didn’t want to protect during the expansion draft, every defenseman and forward has played this entire season with a chip on his shoulder and so far, proved their former teams’ wrong. While Vegas certainly has some veteran players (Marc Andre Fleury has won 3 titles), appearing in the finals will be a new experience for the team and for the city of Vegas, where the Knights have become far more than a hockey team. Following the tragic events of October 1, just five days before their first regular season game, the city rallied around its hockey team, who, in turn did not disappoint. The Knights have even opened up their practices to the public, giving residents a far cheaper means of watching the sport and engaging with the players.
Interestingly enough, George McPhee, the Capitals’ General Manager back in 1998, who brought the team to its first ever cup, now manages the Golden Knights. Twenty years later, taking a different team to the finals, McPhee certainly hopes for a better end result. No matter who wins, one team will hoist the cup for the first time in its history. The question is who! Tune in Monday for Game 1, Wednesday for Game 2 and Saturday for Game 3.
Boston Celtics v. Cleveland Cavaliers (Basketball): The Eastern Conference Finals have come down to a deciding Game 7. The Boston Celtics, persevering despite key injuries throughout the season, look to make the NBA Finals for the first time since 2008. Having lost to Cleveland in the playoffs last season, they’re also striving for a bit of redemption. The Cavaliers, without the play of Kevin Love, hope to return to the finals for the fourth straight year. It’s too bad Kyrie Irving , a former Cav now Celtic, is out with an injury. It certainly could have added to an already exciting series. Tip off is Sunday (tonight) at 8:30 EST.
*The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are also set for a Game 7. Theirs’ is scheduled for Monday at 9pm EST.
The French Open (Tennis): There’s definitely no shortage of stories swirling around this year’s French Open. There will be no Roger Federer (who in recent years has opted out of clay-court tournaments in order to prolong his career) or Andy Murray (still recovering from hip surgery), leaving many to believe Nadal will walk away with his 11th French Open title. On the women’s side, fans hope to see Serena finish on top. Yet there are a handful of other potential female contenders, including 8th seed Petra Kvitova, who wasn’t sure she’d ever return to greatness following a knife attack last year. Spend your entire Memorial Day watching or tune in later in the week to catch the Round of 64.
The Social Hour
Planning a Stanley Cup Finals party? Here are just a few ideas to help you put together the best gathering possible:
- Build your own Stanley Cup: Use it to serve beverages or fill it with a dip. Regardless, it’s a must have party decoration and you’ve got plenty of creative construction options.
- Hockey themed bites: Stick a colored toothpick into a brownie bite and you’ve got a hockey stick. Bake sugar cookies and then decorate them with your team’s logo (or let guests decorate their own). If you’re a cupcake fan, use icing, pretzel sticks and chocolate chips to add some hockey flair.
- Have a Photo Booth: Let friends pose with your Stanley Cup using these fun hockey related props.
- Beverages: Set it up as BYOB, come up with a fun drink specific to your team, or, in honor of the cup, serve Lord Stanley’s Punch.