Tagged in: two weeks

NFL shortens preseason to just two weeks as league continues to plot its 2020 strategy

The NFL has taken its next step in adjusting its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic

The NFL has shortened its 2020 preseason to two games, a source said, part of a larger acclimatization plan for players following an unprecedented virtual offseason program during the coronavirus pandemic.

In essence, the league canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of its original preseason calendar. It had previously canceled its Aug. 8 Hall of Fame game. Most players will still report to training camp on July 28, but the first preseason matches won’t be played until Aug. 20-24. The second week of preseason games are scheduled for Aug. 27-31. Each team will play one home game and one on the road.

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Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

The primary driver for restructuring the preseason was a consensus between the NFL and NFL Players Association that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer.

No teams were able to practice on the field during the offseason, and many gyms and other conditioning settings have been closed. The NFL’s standard preseason has been four games since it was shortened from six games in 1978. It is expected to be cut further when owners activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021.

When that happens, the preseason would shrink to no more than three games for each team. Of more immediate worry, however, is the health of players during training camp in 2020.

The NFL/NFLPA committee will soon issue a set of guidelines that spells out an acclimatization program for the 23 days of training camp prior to the first preseason game.

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MLB suspends spring training, delays Opening Day at least two weeks

Major League Baseball is delaying the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the league informed Thursday.

MLB also said in a statement that spring training matches have been suspended, starting at 4 p.m. ET Thursday.

Commissioner Rob Manfred and the league’s owners held a conference call Thursday afternoon to formalize the plan.

“MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible,” MLB stated.

The announcement came while some spring training games in Florida were still in progress. MLB followed the NBA, NHL, MLS and college basketball tournaments in altering schedules due to the pandemic.

MLB had been scheduled to open its season March 26, with all 30 teams in action. Manfred left open whether each team still would play 162 matches.

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Players had been awaiting a decision.

On Thursday, before the announcement, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price walked into the team’s facility and said: “It’s gotta happen. This is so much bigger than sports. I’ve got two kids.”

Multiple teams had already pulled scouts off the road and sent them home because of coronavirus concerns, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Others have canceled all travel.

Shortly after MLB announced its decision to delay the start of its regular campaign, Minor League Baseball followed suit. In a statement, MILB announced, “After consultation with medical professionals and our partners at Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball will delay the start of the 2020 Championship Season.” The minor league season was scheduled to start on April 9.

Additionally, qualifying in Arizona for this year’s Olympic baseball tournament and for next year’s World Baseball Classic have been delayed.

The major leagues have not had a mass postponement of openers since 1995, when the campaign was shortened from 162 games to 144 following a 7½-month strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series. Opening Day was pushed back from April 2 to April 26.

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