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Sports Quick Hits: Winners Edition - June 19th, 2021

July 19, 2021
Source: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR
Source: Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR

⛳️Golf: Collin Morikawa made his Open Championship debut on Thursday and won the whole darn thing by Sunday. The oldest of the majors, and last of the men’s golf season, the Open is challenging for North American golfers because of the links-style courses, but the 24-year-old, who won the 2020 PGA Championship, won handily with a 15-under-par final score. 

🏎F1: Less than a lap into yesterday’s British Grand Prix, a racing incident occurred between eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton (who recorded his 99th grand prix title) and rival Max Verstappen, who crashed into a tire wall and tweeted his anger after a brief hospitalization. Hamilton was dealt a penalty and suffered awful abuse online following the race.

🏀NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA title since 1971. They beat the Phoenix Suns 123–119 on Saturday night to put them up 3-2 in the series. Game 6 is tomorrow at 9 p.m. ET and a possible Game 7 Thursday, just in time for Suns’ Devin Booker and Bucks’ Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to hop on a plane to Tokyo

🚲Tour de France: The most grueling race in men’s cycling is complete, and for the second straight year, 22-year-old Slovenian Tadej Pogacar claimed the yellow jersey. The youngest two-time winner in Tour de France’s 118-year history, Pogacar is also headed to Tokyo and is obviously a gold medal favorite in the men's road race. 

🏅2020 Tokyo Olympics: Athletes start to test positive for COVID-19

July 19, 2021
Source: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Source: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

COVID-19: COVID-19 has entered the building Olympic Village. American tennis star Coco Gauff announced her COVID-19 diagnosis and subsequent withdrawal from the Games yesterday, while two South African footballers became the first athletes to test positive while already inside the Olympic Village. 

  • Six British athletes and the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) women’s rugby 7s team are in isolation after coming into close contact with an infected plane passenger and their athletic therapist respectively. 
  • And the coach of the South African men’s rugby team, who had also been in isolation, will now spend a mandatory 14 days in an isolation facility after testing positive on Saturday.

The precautions: As mentioned in our latest podcast episode of The GIST of It, organizers are taking many precautions to avoid an outbreak inside the Olympic bubble, which houses over 11,000 athletes and nearly 80,000 support staff, officials and media members. 

  • All athletes must provide two negative tests prior to flying to Tokyo and a negative test upon arrival, and they are also required to download two apps on their phones: one that monitors location and another for daily reporting of their temperature and symptoms. 

Masks are mandatory except when competing, tests will be readily available and once the Games officially begin, any athlete who tests positive will be disqualified from competition. Oh, and no sex. Fun times.  

Guide to Golf

July 18, 2021
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM

The GIST

A full round of golf is 18 holes. Holes generally range from 100 to 500 yards. Unlike most other sports, the goal is to have the lowest score (counted by strokes) at the end of the game — meaning take the least amount of swings or putts to get the ball in the hole. Each hole on the course is given a number of strokes that it should take for a person to get the ball in the hole (this is called par) and typical championship courses have a full par value of 72. 

How is it organized?

Similar to tennis, men’s professional golf players play in PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour and women play in LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association) tournaments. A tournament consists of four rounds of golf (one per day from Thursday until Sunday). The biggest tournaments are called majors. The PGA hosts four majors each year: the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. The ladies have one additional major on the LPGA circuit. Their five majors are the ANA Inspiration, U.S. Women's Open, Women's PGA Championship, Women's British Open and the Evian Championship. 

Outside of the majors, there are various other tourneys the pros can partake in. A player’s world ranking is based on how they do in each tournament. The most well-known tournament is the Masters, played in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to winning copious amounts of cash money, players also receive the green jacket (super cool to win, super impractical to wear). But, while the Masters is known for the coveted jacket and its prestige, the tournament also has a disturbing sexist and racist past. Change is long overdue

Golfin’ greats

This isn’t just your grandparents’ game anymore! While golf is a sport where experience is incredibly important, the past decade has shown that you can be young and still be at the top of your game. The best golfers today include Dustin Johnson (American who is married to Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina Gretzky), Rory McIlroy (Irish sweetheart), Brooks Koepka (American who won back-to-back US Open and PGA Championship tourneys) and Jordan Spieth (young American stud). 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. Tiger dominated the game for over a decade, winning 14 major tournaments. That rapid rise was followed by a sudden fall from grace, when Tiger was caught cheating on his wife and Swedish model Elin in 2009. While the golf legend had been mounting a spectacular comeback, he was injured in a scary single car crash in February 2021. Here's to a speedy recovery. 

Gals who golf

It’s a myth that ‘golf’ stands for “Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden”, but only just barely. For decades, golf has been seen almost exclusively as a man’s game, but thankfully ladies have continued to break down those barriers. Professional women play in the LPGA (Ladies PGA) which is organized similarly to the men’s. And Canadian sensation Brooke Henderson is one of the best in the world — she holds the record as the youngest woman to ever win an LPGA tournament AND is the winningest pro golfer in Canadian history (male or female) with nine career titles. Just unreal.

In 2019, the LPGA awarded its largest ever prize ($1.5M USD) to South Korea’s Sei Young Kim at the CME Group Tour Championship. That’s $500k more than the previous record prize. And, even though the overall prize money handed out in the LPGA pales in comparison to the PGA, there's reason for optimism. After the pandemic disrupted much of the 2020 season, the 2021 LPGA schedule features a record 34 events with over $75 million (USD) in prize money on the line. Keep making moves, ladies!

Prep for your next trivia night by making sure you know these facts:

  • A hole-in-one means you took just one stroke to get the ball all the way into the hole. Tradition says that that golfer must then buy a drink for each person in the clubhouse. But fear not, most courses have hole-in-one insurance so that you actually don’t have to pay. Hilarious.
  • Jack Nicklaus is strongly considered the best golfer of all-time winning 18 majors, which remains the record for most ever.
  • Have you ever sipped on an Arnold Palmer, that delicious blend of iced tea and lemonade? Well, the drink is named after a very successful pro golfer who was known to request the combination! The late Arnold Palmer won four (!!!) Masters tournaments and seven majors over his career.

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🏆No "sticking to sports" here

July 18, 2021
SOURCE: HUFFPOST/GIPHY
SOURCE: HUFFPOST/GIPHY

HELLO!

The official start of the 2020 Olympics is just five (!!!) days away. More on what we have up our sleeves for that tomorrow, but today we’re breaking down the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) recent policy changes on athlete protests and how Olympians have made their voices heard in the past. Spoiler alert: No, “Shut up and dribble,” here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I think things will happen. I don’t know. No one could have told me what I was going to do in 1968 that day until a few moments before it happened.

— Gold medalist Tommie Smith, talking about athletes potentially protesting at the Tokyo Olympics. Smith, along with bronze medalist John Carlos, raised a fist at the 1968 Games — one of the most impactful protests in Olympic history. A true trailblazer.

📖 The background

SOURCE: NBC OLYMPICTALK/TWITTER

From wildcat strikes to rocking the vote, athletes have made their voices heard in unprecedented ways over the past year that will forever shape sports and social justice.

  • But in January 2020, prior to those movements and the COVID-19-induced postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC published guidelines specifying the forms of protest that would not be allowed at the Games.
  • The list of banned actions included taking a knee, hand gestures with political meaning, and “disrespect” at medal ceremonies, with a warning of punishment for any athlete who breaks the rules. Ugh.

Those guidelines reinforced Rule 50 in the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

  • In a surprising move, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) pushed back against the IOC in a December 2020 announcement, calling for changes to Rule 50 and expressing support for peaceful protest.
  • A year after reprimanding athletes who protested at the 2019 Pan American Games, the USOPC shook-up the landscape with their change in stance. Is that hope we feel?

📝 The latest

SOURCE: CHRISTOPHE MORATAL/IOC

Amid the global social justice movement in June 2020, many athletes, including the aforementioned Carlos, signed a letter asking the IOC to abolish Rule 50 altogether. Instead, on July 2nd, 2021 — three weeks ahead of opening ceremonies — the IOC issued Rule 50.2, relaxing the guidelines enforced under Rule 50.

  • Rule 50.2 now allows athletes to express their views in some places, such as in interviews and on social media. On the field of play, however, they can only do so “prior to the start of competition,” meaning on-podium protests like Smith’s are still banned.
  • Any protest deemed “targeted, directly or indirectly, against people, countries, organizations and/or their dignity,” will be subject to disciplinary action, but it remains unclear what exactly that disciplinary action will be.

And while the IOC claims Rule 50.2“provides for the protection of the neutrality of sport at the Olympic Games and the neutrality of the Games themselves,” we know sports and the Olympics have always been political.

✊ Politics and protest in the past

SOURCE: OISELLE/TWITTER

As we prepare for the Games to officially begin on Friday, it’s important to remember the long history of protests at the Olympics. From entire nations boycotting to singular athletes taking a stand, let’s take a look back at politics and protest on the international stage from years past.

Paris 1922: Angered that women were only permitted to compete in Olympic events deemed suitable for their “femininity and fragility,” French rower Alice Milliat founded the International Women’s Sports Federation in 1921, and by 1922, the first Women’s Olympic Games was held in Paris. Milliat even has her own statue. Très bien.

Berlin 1936: Hosted in Hitler’s Germany, the “Nazi Olympics” were a troubling example of the IOC’s repeated complacency. After overcoming a nearly successful boycott, Hitler used the Olympics to spew Nazi propaganda. From swastikas adorning flags to athletes and spectators giving the Nazi salute, racist expressions and gestures were rampant.

  • U.S. track & field athlete Jesse Owens, a Black man, held his protest on the field of play, crushing Hitler’s superior Aryan race theory by winning four gold medals in Berlin. Incredible.

Mexico City 1968: As we mentioned above, amid a year of turmoil in the U.S., American sprinters Smith and Carlos each raised a black-gloved fist on the podium following the 200m race. Both were expelled from the Olympics, but their protest inspired countless athletes afterwards.

  • Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská made a statement of her own in Mexico City. Prior to the Olympics, Čáslavská spoke out in opposition to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and was forced into hiding as a result, unable to train in her normal gym.
  • She was granted last-minute permission to travel to the Games, but controversial judgingled her to share gold on floor and earn a silver on beam, losing out to Soviet gymnasts. In protest, Čáslavská turned her head during the Soviet national anthem. Powerful.

Moscow 1980: The Cold War made its way to the Olympics when U.S. President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, and the U.S. led a 65-nation boycott of the 1980 Moscow games.

  • Joined by other global powers, including Canada and Japan, the boycott was the largest in Olympic history.

➡️ What’s next

SOURCE: GWEN BERRY/TWITTER

With the IOC’s relaxed guidelines, national squads like England’s soccer team taking a kneebefore matches, and the Games coming after a year that will forever be associated with international social justice, we can certainly expect athletes to make their voices heard in Tokyo.

  • Case in point, the head of Athletics Canada recently said that Canadian track & field athletes raised the topic of free speech leading up to the Games and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Canadian athletes protest in some way.

On the U.S. side, after qualifying for her second Olympics last month, American hammer thrower Gwen Berry — who was reprimanded for raising a fist following her gold medal win at the 2019 Pan American Games — turned away from the flag while on the podium.

  • Fellow Team USA member and sprinter Noah Lyles, paid homage to Smith and Carlos’ 1968 protest by raising a black-gloved first of his own ahead of the 100m race, also at the trials.
  • As Lyles said after the powerful moment, “Now that we’re able to go out there and say, ‘Yes, we love our country but we still are suffering,’... I felt like I couldn’t have all this influence and not use that to something I felt passionate about.” Expect more of this in the coming days.

That’s what the Olympics is all about: Seeing athletes at the top of their game, doing what they’re passionate about on the world stage. We can’t wait to watch them compete and make their voices heard over the next few weeks. Let the Games begin!

🎾Ashleigh Barty wins second career Grand Slam

July 12, 2021
Source: Ash Barty/Twitter
Source: Ash Barty/Twitter

Women’s singles: Ten years after winning the Wimbledon juniors title, the 25-year-old Australian won her second career Grand Slam on Saturday in a three-set showdown against Karolina Plíšková (pronounced plish-KOH-va), achieving a lifelong dream

  • With the win, Barty became the first Australian woman and first Indigenous Australian to win at Wimbledon since her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley did so in 1980. Incredible.

Men’s singles: It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Italy yesterday. Before the Euro final, Italian Matteo Berrettini lost the men’s final in four sets to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who recorded his 20th career Grand Slam. 

  • The title ties Djokovic with his other “Big Three” rivals — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — for the most men’s singles titles in tennis history. Talk about a juggernaut.

Next up: The end of Wimbledon marks the end of grass court season. Most stars will begin prepping for the Olympics, while the rest of the tour moves stateside for August’s North American tournaments ahead of the final major of the year, the U.S. Open.