Sports unraveled, collided with politics, racism in 2022
Hardly a day passed in 2022 when a headline that ran across the ticker on ESPN wouldn’t have been out of place on CNN or Fox Business. There was the saga of basketball player Brittney Griner, Russia’s invasion and war on Ukraine and the struggle over transgender athletes among other topics that laid bare the intersection between sports and real life. There were also toxic workplace environments in the NBA and NFL, alleged sexual misconduct by an NFL player, countries using sports to cover up their perceived sins, a cryptocurrency influx and crash and the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply, sports offered another window into the world.
NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ headed to YouTube beginning next season
The NFL has announced a multiyear agreement with Google for “NFL Sunday Ticket.” The package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games will be distributed on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels. The NFL was seeking $2.5 billion per season for the package, which has been on DirecTV since 1994. The satellite provider has paid $1.5 billion per year on an eight-year contract that expires at the end of this season. Besides Amazon, Apple and ESPN also expressed interest in “NFL Sunday Ticket.”
Franco Harris’ legacy forged in humility and empathy
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Friends, teammates and rivals are paying their respects to Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris. The Pro Football Hall of Famer died this week at age 72. Harris leaves behind a legacy beyond the field of play. Former Pennsylvania governor and longtime friend Ed Rendell friend called Harris a model for all Pennsylvanians to follow. President Joe Biden praised Harris for his compassion after visiting him shortly after the death of his wife nearly 50 years ago. Former Oakland Raider linebacker Phil Villapiano, who chased Harris to the end zone during the Immaculate Reception, became a close companion.
High school football incidents spark racism talks, programs
Several racist incidents targeting Black people occurred this high school football season around the nation. One in California involved a mock slave auction. Another in New York involved students in blackface and another in California a racist group chat. Athletes in the past were able to leave racism and other issues off the field, but today not even sports settings are immune from real world problems. Administrators in some cases have used these incidents to start conversations about race that have been hard for them to bring up before and roll out programs they hope will have lasting impact.
13-1 Eagles lead the way with 8 players in Pro Bowl Games
The NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles had a league-best eight players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts, selected for the first Pro Bowl Games. The league announced rosters for the NFC and AFC on Wednesday. Players from both conferences will compete in weeklong skills competitions culminated with a flag football game on Sunday, February 5, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game in September. Kansas City and Dallas each had seven players chosen for the Games. San Francisco and Baltimore are next with six. Only two teams — Jacksonville and Chicago — aren’t represented on the initial rosters.
EXPLAINER: How Correa lost Giants deal, ended up with Mets
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fans of the San Francisco Giants spent a week reveling in the news that Carlos Correa was coming to the Bay Area on a $350 million, 13-year deal. And then just like that, the two-time All-Star was gone, poached by the New York Mets and deep-pocketed owner Steve Cohen. San Francisco woke up Tuesday morning expecting the Giants to introduce the 28-year-old in black and orange. The news conference was canceled because a medical concern had been flagged during Correa’s physical. All player contracts are subject to physical exams, and sometimes they fall through — but never with a player of Correa’s ilk.
Nets score 91 in 1st half, wallop weary Warriors 143-113
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 23 points, all but two in a 91-point first half that was the third-biggest in NBA history, and the Brooklyn Nets routed the Golden State Warriors 143-113 to send the reigning champions staggering home with their second blowout loss in two nights in New York. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins all sidelined, the Warriors finished 1-5 on their road trip to the East and will hope to get healthy before they have to get back on the court on Christmas against Memphis. The Nets matched a franchise record with nine players in double figures and won their seventh straight.
Mitchell scores 36, leads Cavs past Giannis, Bucks 114-106
CLEVELAND (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 36 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers finally put together a complete game against Milwaukee, withstanding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s season-high 45-point performance to beat the Bucks 114-106 on Wednesday night. Darius Garland added 23 points and Jarrett Allen had 19 for the Cavs, who lost their first two games against the Eastern Conference’s top team this season — both times collapsing in the third quarter and losing by 15 in Milwaukee. The Cavs improved the NBA’s best home record to 16-2, matching their start in the 2016 championship season.
Jaguars, Jets kick off Week 16 still in the playoff chase
Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars face Zach Wilson and the New York Jets in Week 16 for the second straight season. Both teams have come a long way since the previous meeting. This year, the Jaguars and Jets are in the middle of a playoff race in a jumbled AFC so there’s plenty at stake Thursday night. The resurgent Jaguars are one game behind the Titans in the AFC South. The Jets are one game behind the Dolphins and Chargers for a wild-card spot. Lawrence and Wilson were the 1-2 picks in the 2021 draft. While Lawrence has been outstanding over the past month, Wilson is only starting because Mike White is injured. He outdueled Lawrence in a 26-21 win at home on Dec. 26, 2021.
Haliburton scores 33 points, Pacers beat slumping Celtics
BOSTON (AP) — Tyrese Haliburton scored 33 points and the Indiana Pacers opened a 30-point lead in the first half before holding off the slumping Boston Celtics 117-112 on Wednesday night. Former Celtics player Aaron Nesmith had 15 points, Chris Duarte added 14 and Myles Turner had 10 to help the Pacers win for just the second time in six games. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 41 points after missing a game because of personal reasons, while point guard Marcus Smart sat out with a non-COVID illness. Jaylen Brown added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, and Malcolm Brogdon had 18 points. Atop the NBA a week ago, the Celtics have dropped five of six.