Columnists, Sports

Numbers Roundup: Silver Linings

I’ll admit, it’s easy to find things to complain about when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on sports — and life, as we know it. But on the bright side, pro athletes are coming out in throngs to add something positive to our daily conversations. Players from every team in every professional American sports league have taken advantage of the opportunity to connect with fans from home in inventive ways, whether it be chicken coop building a la Ryan Getzlaf or simple updates on social media. 

Here are a few of my favorites, Numbers Roundup style: 

37 Jr. NBA at Home online workshops  

The NBA is doing its part to keep kids across the country occupied and in shape to return to basketball once they can start playing again. The Jr. NBA at Home program involves daily minute-long videos that encourage, “skill development, physical activity and character development,” according to the Jr. NBA Website. 

Popular NBA and WNBA players like Trae Young, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jewell Loyd have all pitched in to teach their favorite skills and create challenges for young players. NBA coaches like the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle and retired players like Muggsy Bogues have also starred in short videos offering tips for young basketball players. 

The activities pro athletes are providing for kids haven’t been limited to sports. Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Lindblom offered some entertainment for kids by sharing a full-length video of himself reading a bedtime story to his three children. The Brewers organization posted the video on Facebook with the hashtag #MLBAtHome, in which other teams and players have also used to connect with fans throughout the last few weeks. 

The coronavirus pandemic is terrifying to adults, so it’s hard to imagine what kids must be going through. It’s nice to know that prominent people within the sports industry are keeping children in mind as well. 

16 NBA Players in the NBA 2K Players Tournament 

Games are postponed for the foreseeable future, but NBA players are still doing their best to provide fans with some kind of competition to watch. The NBA and video game publisher 2K recently partnered to create a players’ “NBA 2K20” tournament featuring players such as Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Donovan Mitchell. 

In order to make the tournament seem as similar to real NBA competition as possible, the event will be shown on ESPN and will feature live commentary. The first-round matchups took place on Friday and Sunday, and the next two rounds to determine the champion will stream on Thursday and Saturday later this week.  

One of my favorite matchups was Patrick Beverley vs. Hassan Whiteside, featuring some grade-A trash talking. Derrick Jones Jr.’s first-round upset against Kevin Durant’s Clippers was also one for the books. How long until we get “My Next Chapter, Part 2: Miami Heat Edition?” 

Before the tournament, many NBA gamers took their talents online for fans. Heat center Meyers Leonard even partnered with other players and gamers in a “Call of Duty” fundraiser aimed at raising money for COVID-19-related charities. After receiving a positive response from his first fundraising tournament, Leonard will host another one on Sunday. 

Teams have also gone online with simulated games for fans. Anaheim Ducks fans were devoid of the Kings-Ducks rivalry game scheduled for April 3, but Anaheim Ducks Gaming and the Kings’ eSports affiliate took the faceoff onto Twitch instead. It’s not the same as experiencing an actual in-person game, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. 

30 Minutes per week of home workouts with the Dodgers 

Many people involved with professional and collegiate sports have posted videos of their home-adapted workout routines. Some, including New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and Los Angeles Dodgers director of player performance Brandon McDaniel, have taken it a step further and led their own workouts for fans to follow along with at home. 

McDaniel posts two 30-minute instructional workout videos per week. The workouts resemble popular workout program P90X and involve some of the same exercises used by players in the Dodgers organization. McDaniel encourages those participating in the sessions to be creative when it comes to working out in their homes; this could involve using ordinary household objects as weights. McDaniel has pledged to continue creating the series until the 2020 MLB season begins. 

Edelman partnered with Planet Fitness to shoot a short, 10-minute workout video. Throughout the workout, Edelman provided a variety of exercises and gave shoutouts to fans across the country. One of the best parts of the workout was Edelman’s humorous jabs at former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. While discussing the importance of hydration, Edelman said, “Old quarterback I used to have used to talk about it a lot. Brady, what was his name? Oh yeah, never mind.” 

Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola, Edelman’s former teammate, is set to be the next athlete host of the Planet Fitness workout series. 

I wouldn’t call myself an exercise connoisseur, but athlete-led workouts are a fun way to pass the time. I suppose that’s the entire point of what all these players are doing — finding ways to make hours spent at home feel more like minutes, and making the world feel like it extends beyond our front doors.

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