The State of Play: Sports still offers us a temporary reprieve from the disheartening flood of coronavirus coverage

Our news feeds have become a monolith.

Go ahead and take a look. Whether it’s the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal (I am purposely excluding fanatical fringe elements of the media such as Breitbart), the news has largely become one indistinguishable amalgamation of the same story.

Every hour, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths increases. Every day, a new regulation to combat the virus is issued and another news outlet reports on a new scientific model that predicts that X number of Americans will die and X% will soon be infected. 

This pattern of reporting is despairingly repetitious but also absolutely essential. The availability of widespread and reliable information is more necessary now than it has ever been, and the American public must understand the stakes that underpin our grim circumstances. 

In the midst of all of this, it becomes easy to feel bogged down in the never-ending flood of discouraging news. So, in the interest of our collective mental health, I would like to offer a respite from the daily news cycle. Here are three virus-free sports stories you might’ve missed since American public life was upended.

NFL players vote yes on league’s new collective bargaining agreement 

On March 15, the NFL Player’s Association voted yes by a margin of 1,019 to 959 to approve a successor to the league’s current collective bargaining agreement. The new agreement could take effect as soon as next season and will remain in place until 2030. 

As expected, the terms of the new CBA are controversial. Owners will benefit from an added regular season game and an expanded playoff format that includes two additional teams. These provisions should entice media companies to sign more lucrative broadcasting contracts with the league, which would significantly benefit the coffers of the league’s owners and executives. 

Some players, on the other hand, are a lot less satisfied. Many, such as All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, have opposed extending the regular season out of concern that the additional game will lead to a rise in injuries.

On Monday, former pro-bowl safety Eric Reid released a statement through his lawyers alleging that changes were made to the CBA after the NFLPA’s approval. According to the statement, Reid argues that the changes made to the new CBA reduces payouts to the league’s disabled former players. 

So, regardless of where you stand on the agreement’s merits, it’s clear that the controversy surrounding the deal will not end anytime soon.

NFL free agency changes the league’s landscape

Only days after the new CBA was approved, what is perhaps the most exciting period of the league’s offseason — free agency — kicked off, and it was no disappointment. 

Household names such as wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Todd Gurley found new homes with the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons, respectively. Stars such as Calias Campbell and Stefon Diggs also joined new teams, with Campbell traded to the Baltimore Ravens and Diggs traded to the Buffalo Bills. 

Did I forget to mention that DeForest Buckner, Dante Fowler Jr., Robert Quinn and Nelson Agholor all signed with new teams as well? If all of this player movement is too much for you, avert your eyes from the screen now because I haven’t even gotten to the 2020 quarterback carousel.

Former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota is now a Las Vegas Raider. The Super Bowl legend that is Nick Foles has signed with the hapless Chicago Bears. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton is unemployed. 

Also, Tom Brady now plays for a team whose mascot goes by the name of Captain Fear. 

If that doesn’t brighten your day, I don’t know what will. 

Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer buys The Forum 

I know you’re probably very preoccupied with the activities of a certain billionaire that is running the country, but if you’re a resident of Los Angeles or you’d just like a brief reprieve from our Schmuck-in-Chief, I’d recommend you focus your attention on another billionaire: Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and currently the wealthiest owner in the NBA. 

Ballmer’s Clippers bought The Forum in Inglewood for $400 million last week, effectively removing the last remaining obstacle in the way of constructing a new billion-dollar basketball arena for Ballmer’s team. 

For Clippers fans, it must feel great to finally have a place to call their own after two decades of playing second-fiddle at Staples Center.

Still, it remains to be seen if the new arena will have any impact on the Clippers’ miserable history of shortcomings and mediocrity. Until then, Lakers fans such as myself will take comfort in 16 NBA championships and 26 Hall of Famers. 

Stay healthy everyone. 

Stuart Carson is a junior writing about the intersection of sports, politics and American society. He is also a sports editor at the Daily Trojan. His column, “The State of Play,” typically runs every other Wednesday.