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Sports marketing: Coronavirus shutdown presents challenges for teams, sponsors

By Jay Cohen AP Sports Writer CHICAGO (AP) — There are no sponsored power plays at the moment. No doughnut races in the fourth quarter. No calls to the bullpen presented by phone companies. Amid the coronavirus shutdown, sports business executives are having tough conversations about lucrative advertising and marketing contracts with no games on the horizon. Everyone involved knows the relative insignificance of the talks in the greater scheme of things, but billions of dollars are…

British Open canceled, tournament will resume in 2021

Staff Report VIRGINIA WATER, Surrey, England - The 2020 Open Championship will has been canceled amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The Open was due to be played in Kent from 12-19 July but it has been necessary to cancel the Championship based on guidance from the UK government, the health authorities, public services and The R&A’s advisers. This is the first time since the Second World War that golf’s original  championship, first played in 1860, has been canceled. The 149th Open will…

Kobe Bryant in 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class

By Tim Reynolds AP Basketball Writer Kobe Bryant's resume has yet another entry to validate his greatness: He's now, officially, a Hall of Famer. And he's got plenty of elite company in the 2020 class, one that may be as glitzy as any. Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, and fellow NBA greats Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett headlined a nine-person group announced Saturday as this year's class of enshrinees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "An amazing…

Former Saints placekicker Tom Dempsey dies at 73

By Brett Martel AP Sports Writer NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey, who played in the NFL despite being born without toes on his kicking foot and made a record 63-yard field goal, died late Saturday while struggling with complications from the new coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 73 years old. The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate first reported Dempsey's death. Ashley Dempsey said Sunday that her father, who has resided in an assisted living home for several…

Mild winter, no games make for greener ballparks

By Stephen Hawkins AP Baseball Writer Nicole Sherry poked some holes in the turf at Camden Yards, cut the grass and then left the ballpark about the same time the Baltimore Orioles should have been wrapping up their season opener.  "What a beautiful day it would have been for a ballgame," said Sherry, the head groundskeeper for the Orioles. "It was kind of surreal because I was thinking, 'Technically, this is opening day.'" Camden Yards was all green and would have been ready for what…

Coronavirus shutters Wimbledon for 1st time since World War II

By Howard Fendrich AP Tennis Writer For the first time in its nearly century-and-a-half history, Wimbledon was canceled for a reason other than war, scrapped in 2020 on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic. With Britain under a nationwide lockdown, the All England Club announced its decision to call off its storied two-week grass-court tennis tournament, something that hadn't happened to the sport's oldest Grand Slam event in 75 years. "It has weighed heavily on our minds that…

Harlem Globetrotters star Curly Neal dies

By John Marshall AP Basketball Writer Fred "Curly" Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, has died. He was 77. The Globetrotters said Neal died in his home outside of Houston on Thursday morning. "We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement on Twitter. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and…

Sports Illustrated launches coronavirus podcast

Staff Report NEW YORK -  Maven Media Brands and Sports Illustrated announce the launch of Coronavirus + Sports, a free podcast sharing candid stories of how the global COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the world of sports. Hosted by Luis Miguel Echegaray, the series features SI reporters, athletes, experts, and sports figures telling daily stories of how those in and around sports are responding to the unprecedented event that brought sports to a halt around the world. "Sports Illustrated…

Five RPS 205 players earn first-team All-NIC-10 honors

Staff Report ROCKFORD – Rockford Public Schools teams took three of the top four spots in the NIC-10 boys basketball race and that success was reflected in the all-conference voting. Five of the 10 players named to the first team were District 205 stars. George Williams, Jefferson’s point guard, was picked after leading the NIC-10 in assists at 4.6 per game. Guilford’s Tyler Knuth was picked after finishing third in the NIC-10 in scoring at 15.7 points per game and topping the…

March Sadness: No NCAA brackets

By Eddie Pells AP National Writer For all those who dreamed the impossible — making it a whole month without getting a single game wrong in the bracket — this is your year. Everything else about the NCAA Tournament that won't happen this season — from Selection Sunday, to the jaw-dropping bracket busters and buzzer beaters, to the Sweet 16 to the Final Four? Call it March Sadness. Before fears about the coronavirus scrubbed sports for the foreseeable future, Sunday was supposed to be…

IHSA cancels all winter sports tournaments

Staff Report BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced on March 12, 2020, that it has canceled its remaining winter State Series postseason tournaments, which include Boys Basketball, Scholastic Bowl, Drama & Group Interpretation, Music, Debate and Journalism, over concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We appreciate the patience and understanding that we have received from everyone involved in this process over the past 72 hours,” said Craig…

March Madness: NCAA tournaments canceled due to COVID-19

By Ralph D. Russo AP College Sports Writer The NCAA canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments on Thursday because of the spread of coronavirus, putting an abrupt end to the season less than a month before champions were to be crowned. The unprecedented move comes a day after the NCAA announced the games that were scheduled to start next week would go on, but played in mostly empty arenas. That plan was scrapped as every major American sports league from the NBA to MLB put the…

Hockey: AHL suspends 2019-20 season amid COVID-19 pandemic

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - With the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans of primary importance, the American Hockey League has announced the suspension of play until further notice, effective immediately, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The AHL will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates on the 2019-20 season at the appropriate time. Scheduled Rockford IceHogs at BMO Harris Bank Center that have been suspended include …

COVID-19: Rock Valley closes national basketball tournament to fans

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The 2020 NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Tournament at Rock Valley College on March 12-14 will be played as scheduled, however, fans will not be allowed to attend the games in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Only participating teams--players, coaches, other team staff members--and essential staff are allowed in the facility during the tournament. Rock Valley remains in frequent contact with the Winnebago County Health Department and area…

Coronavirus: NHL suspends season

Staff Report NEW YORK - The NHL will pause the 2019-20 regular season due to the concerns of the coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. The NHL has 189 games remaining, including 10 scheduled for Thursday. The regular season was scheduled to end April 4, with the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting the week of April 6. "In light of ongoing developments resulting from the coronavirus, and after consulting with medical experts and convening a conference call of the Board of Governors, the…