Guide to the 2021-22 Fantasy Football Season

by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021

Professional Sports

The 2021-2022 NFL season is just around the corner, and that means it is also fantasy football season. This season has the potential to be especially unpredictable and crazy, especially in fantasy football.

Fantasy football is all about risk versus reward. Players often find themselves weighing the risks of players; for example, they must consider the players’ injury history, team, and recent production while also considering what the player could produce. The name of the game is considering value.

When it comes to Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas, that value critically dictates where they should be drafted. Saqoun Barkley is coming off an ACL injury and is expected to work himself back into a primary back role.

He will likely play week one, but may not have all his touches just yet. It is also worth noting that he is coming off a significant injury in the ACL. Yet, Barkley is an elite athlete, one who is highly likely to bounce back from such an injury and produce given health and opportunity.

And provided he is a key piece in a team banking on offensive improvement and his rare combination of receiving/rushing skills, Barkley should still be a high first round pick.

Normally, he should be a second rounder, yet the value on running backs this year may be at an all-time high with so few key backs capable of being top end backs. This is causing large and early draft patterns where running backs are being drafted early and often.

The opposite is true of wideouts. And Thomas, coming off an unproductive season, a serious injury causing him to miss time, a new quarterback and drama with his coach, Thomas doesn’t seem poised to be a big producer this season. With such a large quantity of good receivers available, many other producers could be available as well.

Make sure you draft your wideouts one and two before taking Thomas on to sit the bench and hopefully push late in the season.

One of those other receivers that could really produce this season is Thomas’ teammate Marquez Callaway. Callaway, along with Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards, are two receivers that have not only impressed at camp this summer but seem to be in line for their respective teams’ number one receiver spot.

There has been a lot of talk about receivers so far, and for good reason because there are more receivers to be drafted than running backs. And while there are many good ones, there are certainly bad ones.

The trio of receivers in Pittsburgh, Juju Smith- Schuster, Chase Claypool, and Dionte Johnson are ones to stay away from. All three are playing in a run first system with an aging QB.

That is not to mention Smith-Schuster’s inconsistently producing as a starting wideout, concerns with Claypool’s numbers being touchdown dependent and Johnson’s drop issues. And the poor offensive line is a key reason to stay away from rookie running back Najee Harris.

This football season should be one to look forward to, and fantasy football is always a way to keep things interesting.

Friartown Features Hosts Williams and Burke

by Joshua Lopes on May 6, 2021

Professional Sports

Two Greats Share Valuable Pieces of Advice in Being Successful

Scott Jarosz ’21

Sports Staff

On April 26, professional tennis player Serena Williams joined Providence College alumna and NBA broadcaster Doris Burke virtually to take part in a conversation that was broadcasted to the entire PC community. This conversation was part of a series of virtual events hosted by PCe entitled “Friartown Features.” Throughout the conversation, Williams and Burke shared many valuable insights that made this event well worth attending.

Photo Courtesy from AP

A native of Saginaw, MI, Williams began playing tennis at a young age and has not looked back since. Now 39 years old, Williams has solidified herself as one of the best tennis players of all time. Throughout her professional career, which began in 1995, Williams has won a total of 73 matches, including 23 individual grand slams.

Her 23 grand- slam victories are the most by a player in the Open Era and are the second-most of all time. In addition to her on-court performance, Williams is highly involved in social activism and charity work. Her outstanding career on the court, as well as her efforts off the court, have established her as a premier role model for people across the globe.

Given her outstanding accomplishments, Williams’ conversation with Burke was an opportunitysomething that many members of the PC community could not pass up. The conversation was designed for Burke to serve as the interviewer and Williams as the respondent. Burke asked Williams a wide variety of questions, to which Williams responded with thoughtful answers. Burke also offered her own input following Williams’ responses.

Photo Courtesy from Getty Images

The conversation began with Burke asking Williams for her biggest piece of advice that has led her to have such an outstanding career. Williams responded, “You have to be willing to put in hours when other people are not. You have to be willing to miss out on something when other people are not.” 

She continued her answer by sharing some additional insights. “I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve wanted to do other things [instead of working] and now I’m so grateful that I spent my time doing what I had to do, not necessarily what I wanted to do.” Williams’ response to this question gave the PC community an inside look into what allowed her to have such a successful career, which was inspiring to hear.

When Burke asked her about what tennis means to her and whether she strives to earn the all-time record for most grand slam victories, Williams said, “At the end of the day I don’t really care if I’m known [for] how many grand slams I’ve won, I definitely want to be known more for things I did off the court and people’s lives I was able to influence.” An admirable sentiment, this shows how passionate Williams is about making an   impact on the world at large , and how she understands  that there is more to life than on-court achievements such as grand slam titles.

Overall, the virtual conversation between Doris Burke and Serena Williams was an amazing experience for the PC community. Both Burke and Williams have had outstanding careers as women in sports and hearing their input on a wide variety of topics was immensely valuable. 


Editor’s Corner

by Joshua Lopes on May 6, 2021

Professional Sports

European Super League

Liam Tormey

Sports Editor

On April 18, the European soccer community was shaken to its core when it was announced that 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe would be breaking away to form the European Super League, ending the competitive structure of the game all for the pockets of 12 greedy owners.

Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, Liverpool FC, Juventus FC, and seven more of the most well-known clubs in the world founded the Super League. Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, was due to be the chairman of the Super League, with owners from other clubs named vice-chairmen.

Talks of a European Super League have been rumored for decades. In theory, the top clubs across Europe would create a league in which they would compete against each other every week. Due to the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, these top clubs have been hit with large amounts of debt, giving the owners an excuse to finally propose this idea. 

Quickly following the news, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, and many other domestic leagues, condemned the formation of the Super League, issuing a statement that if the clubs went through with this proposal, there would be major punishments.

Television pundits, fans, and even players and managers took to the press and social media to express their disgust at the proposal. A Sky Sports commentator, Gary Neville, who played for Manchester United for 19 seasons, labeled the formation of the league as an act of “pure greed.”

In the end, the proposal of the European Super League is an act of “Americanizing” the European game. European soccer is so unique because of the opportunity for any team to win it all. The promotion and relegation system across European soccer is not seen within American sports, and it allows for teams’ successes to be rewarded and teams’ failures to be punished. 

After the upheaval from fans, many within the Super League, most notably the English clubs, were the first to apologize to their fans and withdraw from the proposal just three days after the news broke on April 18.

The Super League responded by saying they will need to reshape the project, as they still believe it will enhance the experience of European soccer.

Fans across Europe, particularly in England, have continued to express their disapproval of their owner’s wishes. Large protests outside stadiums have occurred, and on May 2, Manchester United against Liverpool was canceled due to United fans storming Old Trafford in protest of their owners.

This fiasco has shown the power that soccer fans still have in shaping the game. As the famous saying across Europe goes, “Football is nothing without fans.”


PCI: Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?

by Joshua Lopes on April 22, 2021


Providence College Investigates: The MLB

The New York Yankees

By Margaret Maloney ’23

Sports Staff

In 2020, the New York Yankees lost a tough battle against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, losing three games to two. The Yankees largely missed out on the World Series last year because of their weaknesses in pitching and hitting. These deficiencies have been accounted for in the offseason and will help lead the Yankees to victory in the World Series in 2021. 

On April 1, Yankee Stadium came alive again to watch the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays. The game went to 10 innings, and New York fell short with a 3-2 loss. But this first loss of the season does not reflect the potential that the team has to make it all the way. The Yankees’ starting pitcher for this game, Gerrit Cole, has won many games for the team in the past because of his unstoppable pitching.

Sarah Langs of puts Cole at the top of tier one in her 2021 starting pitcher rankings. “Cole has 696 strikeouts since the start of 2018, 61 more than any other pitcher in that span,” reported Langs. “He’s posted a sub-2.90 ERA in each of the past three seasons, including a 2.84 mark in 73 innings in his debut season with the Yankees in 2020.”

While Cole did not perform to the best of his ability on Opening Day, this does not mean the rest of his season will continue this way. Gerrit Cole has great potential to be the best pitcher in the league and to carry his team to the World Series in 2021.

Another key player for the Yankees this season is starting second baseman, DJ LeMahieu, who has been their most valuable player for two years running. LeMahieu signed a six-year, $90 million deal with New York in January. He is coming off a season in which he led the American League with a .364 batting average, a .421 on-base percentage and a 1.011 OPS, also pacing the league with a 177 OPS+. 

LeMahieu, so far in 2021, has a batting average of .300, a .382 on-base percentage, and a .799 On-base-plus-slugging-percentage, which predicts a very promising season for him as a baseman and as a batter. LeMahieu will play a crucial role in leading the Yankees to the World Series, and considering his performance so far, he will execute to his full potential.

There is much talk of the Los Angeles Dodgers winning for the second year in a row and continuing on their hot streak. However, the Yankees have a retooled roster of talented players, which will allow them to take home a World Series win.

The Philadelphia Phillies

By Ben Bilotti ’23

Sports Staff

The common picks to win it all this season are the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Braves, Mets, and White Sox. While these are all strong choices, I am going to go a different route. My pick to win the Fall Classic this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, a true “dark horse.”

Simply put, the Phillies were not great last season. In a shortened 60-game season, the Phillies finished below .500 with a 28-32 record. However, this was largely due to a flawed bullpen. Last season the bullpen was historically bad, posting a 7.06 combined earned-run average. That is the second-worst bullpen ERA in Major League history. 

The Phillies’ front office recognized this was a clear problem and took action. In the offseason, they acquired Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler, who are all relief pitchers who have had success in the past. The bullpen was not the only area improved, as key pieces were added to the starting rotation as well, such as veterans Matt Moore and Chase Anderson.

It is still early in the season, but, so far, all offseason acquisitions have contributed in a positive manner. These new additions, paired with rotation staples Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Elfin, make up a very serviceable rotation. If all goes well, it could be one of the best in baseball.

The pitching staff is well-rounded and improved, which brings us to the lineup. When everyone is healthy, the Phillies’ lineup is prolific. Players such as Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen are all looking to bounce back and contribute. Gregorius and Hoskins have already shown their power strokes are back. The Phillies also have the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, who is a top-tier defensive catcher and the best hitting catcher in the game. He can also move down the base paths, proving that he truly impacts the game on all levels.

The Phillies also have Bryce Harper. The narrative over the years is that the $330-million man is overrated. I believe the opposite. Advanced statistics (as well as the eye test) prove that Harper is an above-average player. His average exit velocity, walk percentage, and advanced metrics such as expected batting average all put Harper in the 90th percentile or higher. These statistics are impressive and prove that Harper is going to be a key contributor to the Phillies’ offense.

In the end, even though the Phillies’ odds of winning the World Series to begin the year were very low, I believe they have what it takes to pull it off. Their starters can get quality starts and go long into games. The bullpen has also significantly improved, and the team’s role players look to be filling their spots just fine. When all is said and done, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the 2021 World Series champions.

Lake Tahoe: Hockey in the Great Outdoors

by Joshua Lopes on March 4, 2021

Professional Sports

NHL Heads West For Outdoor Games

By Ryan Carius ’21

Sports Staff

On Feb. 20, the NHL returned to its roots: hockey on an outdoor stage. That stage was Lake Tahoe, the United States’ largest alpine lake, in close proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event was a two-day matchup featuring two top opponents in the MassMutual East Division and two cup contenders in the Honda West Division.

Christian Petersen/ Getty images

The first game of the two matches, on Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday, occurred on Feb. 20 and featured the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche. The Vegas Golden Knights started the season red hot and continued to maintain a top spot in the West Division leading up to puck-drop, but faced a very talented Avalanche team that was only a few games behind the Golden Knights for first place.

The anticipation for this game ensured an exciting first period filled with breathtaking views. Upon completion of the first period, though, the NHL called for a delay to protect players and referees from the hazardous condition of the ice, as the heat made it difficult to maintain a smooth surface. Several holes appeared throughout the rink, causing multiple players to trip and fall.

The NHL decided to delay the game until midnight, giving the players about an eight-hour break between the first and second periods. Once the game restarted, the teams arguably played in the greatest outdoor setting and on ideal conditions. The true masterpiece of a setting was a dream for hockey players and fans alike. Ultimately, the Avalanche were victorious, but it was a close game that showcased the talent of both teams and some of the most highly skilled players in the NHL.

The next matchup, on Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday, was also pushed back to a later time in the day to ensure that the NHL could repair the ice and avoid the conditions experienced the previous day. The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers both wore their retro jerseys to honor this distinct opportunity. David Pastrnak started off red-hot, scoring within the first minute, demonstrating why the Boston Bruins offense is a force to be reckoned with.

Even against a formidable Flyer defense and a young star goaltender in Carter Hart, the Bruins offense was too much to handle. As the game carried on, Philadelphia seemed to unravel and the Bruins were able to net an additional six goals, dominating the Flyers 7-3. Although this second game was not as close as the previous matchup, the conditions of the ice were at least not problematic.

Over the previous years, the NHL has been able to push the limits of where ice hockey can be played. This year, the NHL certainly gave the fans an experience like no other. Although this game was unfortunately not able to allow fan attendance, some spectators were lucky enough to watch from Lake Tahoe on their own boats. Even so, the aesthetic between the ice, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada background created an unconventional yet amazing viewing experience for the fans watching from their couches at home.

Despite the delays, the two games were successful, and the NHL can certainly learn from the weather conditions of this experiment with outdoor hockey. One can be optimistic that once hockey returns to normal, the NHL will increase the number of outdoor games at various locations. These Lake Tahoe games displayed that the NHL has evolved past just one annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic, to a league featuring multiple matchups at breathtaking locations.

Brady vs. Mahomes: The Past Takes on the Future

by Joshua Lopes on February 4, 2021

Professional Sports

by Ryan Carius ’21

Sports Staff

The first NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic will come to a close on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay. The main story headed into the matchup is the two quarterbacks under center as Super Bowl LV will feature arguably the two most renowned quarterbacks competing in the league. This competition between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes has more than the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line.

Patrick Mahomes throws football.

Although neither quarterback will admit it, this game is for bragging rights. Brady’s route to the Super Bowl was not easy. After dispatching Taylor Heinicke of the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card matchup, Brady defeated two legends in both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to get to the big game. If Brady can complete this run by defeating Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, it will add yet another impressive accomplishment to his unmatched resume. Although, he certainly has enough on his resume regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl LV.

For Mahomes, facing Brady in the Super Bowl should be enough motivation for the star QB to play his best. However, this game also serves as revenge for the 2019 AFC Championship Game, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 37-31.

Mahomes’s rise to stardom has taken a much different path than Brady’s, but ever since starting for the Chiefs in his second season, Mahomes has been one of the best players in the entire NFL. In just his third year as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs, Mahomes is now in his second Super Bowl and is favored to collect his second Lombardi Trophy. Although two Super Bowls would not be enough for Mahomes to compete with Brady’s legacy just yet, the potential is there. Indeed, if Mahomes continues at this pace, it may very well be enough to ask the question: will Mahomes someday replace Brady as the Greatest of All Time?

One day, when Mahomes’s career is over, there will be much comparison between the two quarterbacks’ career statistics. If one measures greatness by career titles, it is hard to imagine supplanting Brady’s six, and potentially soon seven, Super Bowl titles. However, given that Mahomes could win his second title in just three seasons as starting quarterback, he is on pace to pass Brady if he has a successful 20-season career.

It is also worth examining statistics like passer rating, passing yards, or touchdowns in one’s pursuit of naming the GOAT. Although Brady has thrown for the most TDs in NFL history, he is not the number one quarterback in passer rating or passing yards. What makes Tom Brady stand out is his tremendous success during the postseason. Tom Brady is 30-11 in the postseason with a win percentage of 73.1%. He’s also thrown for 73 touchdowns. In comparison, Patrick Mahomes has played in only seven playoff games with a record of six wins and one loss, about a winning percentage of 85%. During that span, he threw 17 TD passes, a number which will surely increase during this Super Bowl and his many playoff games yet to come.

PHOTO COURTESY Of Associated Press

With these impressive numbers in just three postseasons, Mahomes will be compared to Tom Brady throughout the remainder of his career. For this reason, the argument of whether or not Patrick Mahomes will replace Tom Brady as the GOAT is yet to be determined. There are also other factors to consider, such as who had the better coach, better team, and tougher opponents throughout their respective careers. However, if Brady can win this game and prove that his success did not just come from a partnership with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he will permanently cement himself as a true winner, regardless of what organization he plays for.

On the other hand, what makes Patrick Mahomes so appealing to most football fans is the possibility of him being a generational player that can also compete for the title of the Greatest of All Time at the quarterback position. While it might be nice to believe Mahomes can capture this accolade, it will take a very long and successful career to catch up to Brady, a pursuit which will make the NFL entertaining to watch for years to come.

Editor’s Corner

by Joshua Lopes on February 4, 2021

Professional Sports

Remembering Baseball’s Best

By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-editor

Two weeks ago, the baseball world lost its former home run king, Henry “Hank” Aaron, marking the ninth baseball Hall of Famer to pass away within the past calendar year. Aaron’s passing calls us back to a much different time, when baseball was America’s National Pastime and the best players were icons. Baseball reigned during the ’50s and ’60s, and with each death of aging legends, the further we move from baseball’s golden era.

Each of the Hall of Famers were giants and represented what was once great about the game. Aaron’s chase to break Babe Ruth’s long-time home run record captivated the entire country in 1973. Less than 30 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, Aaron becoming baseball’s home run king was another victory for the Black community.

The late Bob Gibson pitched three complete games for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1967 World Series and won all three starts. For comparison, not one pitcher made it past the sixth inning in the 2020 World Series. Instead, the country got to see journeymen relievers come out to pitch a single inning at a time on baseball’s biggest stage. In the NBA, you want your best player taking the last shot. In the NFL, you want your quarterback taking deep passes down field as the clock ticks down. For the fan’s sake,  would it not be more exciting to see a team’s best pitcher on the mound when the game is on the line?

The late Los Angeles Dodger manager, Tommy Lasorda, had a personality that is completely devoid in the game today. The longtime manager was never shy to get after an umpire for a bad call and brought more energy to the dugout as a 70-year-old than most players show today. His love for the game led him to working in LA’s front office well into his 90s. Don Sutton, another popular Dodger who passed away, established himself at LA’s ace during the 1970s and went on to be one of the few men who have won 300 games in the major league.

Tom Seaver, Al Kaline, and Joe Morgan were the faces of their franchises in New York, Detroit, and Cincinnati respectively. Each won the World Series and were the top performer on their teams for the majority of their careers. Lou Brock set the all-time steals record temporarily and helped St. Louis to multiple titles. Whitey Ford was a crucial part of the New York Yankees dynasty, winning a total of six World Series titles.

Baseball may not have the same pull that it once did, but that should not diminish the significance of those who came before. The men that we lost were more than just great players. They were  household names, heroes to many, and in Aaron’s case: an activist. They were the bridge that connected us to our ancestors who watched them play over 50 years ago.

PCI: Tainted Titles

by The Cowl Editor on November 12, 2020


Should There Be an Asterisk on Recent Championships?

Yes, Too Much Missing

by Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. The sporting world has faced many difficulties as well. After the initial COVID-19 shutdown in March temporarily paused the NHL and NBA seasons and postponed the start of the MLB season, all three sports resumed their seasons in the summer. The NHL and NBA resumed in “bubbles,” while the MLB severely cut down its schedule to only 60 games. These shortened seasons created longer periods of rest, prompted far less travel, and contained either none or a very small amount of fans. All of these reasons show why champions should have an asterisk next to their titles this year.

As an example, take the newly crowned MLB champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had been continually struggling to get over the hump the last few years and finally did so this year. However, this may be in part due to the COVID rules the MLB had in place. The Dodgers managed to stay healthy through all 60 games, earning them a top seed in the playoffs. The lessening of games allowed the Dodgers to travel and play less, meaning that their oft-injured pitchers were more well-rested heading into the postseason.

Perhaps the MLB did make the season a little challenging by not giving any teams byes in the extended postseason, but the Dodgers were initially matched up with a Milwaukee Brewers team that had been struggling all year. The Dodgers then only had to beat the young and inexperienced San Diego Padres, an inconsistent Atlanta Braves team, and finally a Tampa Bay Rays team who paled in comparison talent wise. Also, the Dodgers had to travel far less during the postseason because of the MLB neutral sites that popped up later in the playoffs. They further benefited from the lack of fans. While the electrifying MLB postseason atmosphere can be exciting, it can also put pressure on players like Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who has been known to choke in past playoffs.

In the NBA and NHL bubbles, the rosters of playoff teams leagues clearly got extended rest. Players were given extra time to heal and even injured players expected to miss the playoffs were able to return. Then, both leagues had seeding games, which allowed teams already in lower seeding positions to quickly move up the standings to usurp teams with better records. And again, no travel and no home court advantage definitely took away from the atmosphere. This is not to say the NBA Finals champion, the Los Angeles Lakers, and NHL Stanley Cup-winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, were not good teams. But, much like the Dodgers, the Lightning have struggled to get over the hump recently, and it is hard to imagine that the bubble did not help.

While the return of professional sports in the middle of a pandemic is a strong achievement, this year’s champions should have an asterisk next to their titles given the abnormalities of their respective seasons.


No, Too Many Sacrifices

by Scott Jarosz ’21

When sports came to a halt in March, both athletes and sports fans worldwide lost the ability to connect with their communities through the comradery of sports. However, when sports resumed this past summer, it was as if people were finally brought back together. Even though fans could not be in attendance, the return of sports brought back a familiar sense of comfort and unity. Athletes dedicated countless hours of training to prepare for the sudden resumption of their seasons and could not wait to get back on the courts and playing fields. Some athletes, such as basketball and soccer players, even had to live in a “bubble” for the duration of their seasons. Given the sacrifices athletes made to play with their teams, the championships won during the pandemic should not be marked with an asterisk.

Beginning with the NBA, the sacrifices that players had to make to continue the season were unlike anything that athletes had done before as players had to leave behind their friends and families. Once they entered the bubble on July 7, players, coaches, staff, and all other personnel could not leave the premises or see anyone outside of the bubble until their season was complete. Ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals four games to two over the Miami Heat. With the win, the Lakers tied with the Boston Celtics for the most-ever championships won with 17 total franchise titles.

Major League Baseball was also significantly impacted by COVID-19. Because of the sheer number of players and staff for each team, a bubble format was not realistic for the MLB. Instead, each team played their regular season home games at their own stadiums with no fans. The normal 162-game schedule for each team was reduced to 60 games, which were played in a tight window. In addition, numerous teams dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks, which led to the postponement of more than 40 games. With this in consideration, players were competing under high stress and on limited rest. Despite this, players and staff powered through and completed a successful season, which concluded with the Los Angeles Dodgers defeating the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2020 World Series.

To put an asterisk next to the 2020 NBA champion, the 2020 MLB champion, or any other champion crowned during this time would undermine the efforts made by the players and personnel of these organizations. Each of these championships were earned through hard work and dedication and are arguably even more valuable than any previous championships. Although the circumstances may have been different this year, players and personnel alike deserve to have their championships recognized as legitimate.

NFL Mid-Season Update

by The Cowl Editor on October 16, 2020

Professional Sports

COVID-19 Outbreaks Lead to Scheduling Fiascos

by Liam Tormey ’22

Sports Staff

It is now a couple weeks into the National Football League (NFL) season, and there have been both surprises and concerns for many teams in the league.

It goes without saying that COVID-19 is going to be the biggest issue this season. Going into Week Four, the Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to travel to Tennessee to face the Titans, but, due to an outbreak of cases in the Titans camp, the game was rescheduled to Week Seven. The Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game was moved to Week Eight. Both the Steelers and Titans went into Week Four undefeated and have proven to be playoff contenders.

The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots were supposed to face off on Oct. 4 but had to reschedule to a Monday night game after Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. With Newton in quarantine, Brian Hoyer got the starting job. Hoyer played a terrible first half before being replaced by second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the second half of the game.

Photo Courtesy of Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

With both rosters at capacity, the Chiefs and Patriots have been two of the more impressive teams in the league. Surprisingly, the Chiefs are the first team ever to start 4-0 for four consecutive seasons. Their impressive display against the Ravens in Baltimore has many believing they have a good chance to repeat winning the Super Bowl.

For the New England Patriots, Newton looks like he has found his new home. The Patriots hope to get him back for their Week Six matchup against the Denver Broncos, a game that was moved from Week Five following more positive cases in New England. Newton’s arm and his ability to run the ball have added a new dimension to New England’s offense. And with Bill Belichick as the coach, anything is possible for the Patriots this season.

Credit must be given to the other undefeated teams in the American Football Conference (AFC). The Buffalo Bills are the leaders of the AFC East, and quarterback Josh Allen looks ready to lead his team to a successful playoff run. Head coach Sean McDermott has continually given Buffalo a sound defense since coming from the Carolina Panthers as a defensive coordinator.

In the National Football Conference (NFC), the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers are at the top of the list for impressive teams thus far. Russell Wilson, who has never received an MVP vote, has been at the top of his game, proving how he has become one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league. Not many people believed in the Packers before the season started, but Aaron Rodgers has proven the doubters wrong, giving his team one of the best starts to the season.

The Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans have been the disappointments of the season. Atlanta blew back-to-back leads against the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears in games they looked certain to win. The Texans have had problems all over the board after trading star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Both teams have now fired their coaches, Dan Quinn and Bill O’Brien, after winless starts to the season. 

The unpredictability of this football season mirrors the unpredictability of 2020. Although there have been surprises, disappointments, and league-wide challenges, it has been exciting for fans just to have football back on their televisions.

State of the Olympics: Tokyo 2021

by The Cowl Editor on October 4, 2020

Professional Sports

International Competitions to be held in Summer 2021

by Leo Hainline ’22

Sports Staff

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, there was an eerie point in time when the entire sporting world went on pause. While many sporting events were canceled altogether, some major events were postponed to the summer of 2021. This includes the quadrennial Olympic Games and the European Championships (Euros) for soccer. 

Although no one knows when stadiums will be packed with fans again, both of these competitions are expected to take place regardless. Even without fans, watching both of these historic competitions will add some quality entertainment to next summer. 

Indeed, the Tokyo Olympics will happen next year under any circumstances. According to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), the opening events are planned for July 23, while the closing day is set to be Aug. 8. The IOC is branding it as the “Games that Conquered COVID.” All eyes will be on Japan to see what measures will be implemented in order to host the Games successfully. 

Officials have yet to determine whether spectators will be allowed to attend. They are also considering simplifying the opening and closing ceremonies in addition to reducing the number of staff and delegates from each nation. Over 200 countries intended on participating in the Tokyo Olympics prior to the pandemic, but Japan still has strict travel restrictions on most foreign nations. 

The 11,000 foreigners entering the country will certainly require constant testing, but the fact that the Games are held in one city will be an advantage logistically. The Olympic Games have a tradition of being held regardless of ongoing global challenges, with the only cancellations in its history due to World War I and World War II. 

As for the Euros, one of the biggest tournaments in the world of soccer, the competition is expected to take place from June 11 to July 11 in 12 different host cities. These cities include London, Baku, Munich, Rome, Saint Petersburg, Amsterdam, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, and Glasgow. Usually the tournament is hosted by one or two European nations, but this year it was originally intended to be hosted across the continent to honor the tournament’s 60th anniversary. 

Soccer has seen all of its major leagues restart amid the pandemic without a bubble system akin to the ones used in the United States. The Euros are expected to proceed smoothly without one as well. 

20 of the 24 teams participating have already been decided, with the remaining qualification games occurring on Nov. 22 for the final four teams. Italy is set to play Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the tournament’s opening match on June 11. Like the Olympics, the status of fans at the stadiums has yet to be determined. While most soccer matches have been played without any fans in attendance, some countries have recently begun to allow in-person viewings. 

Even with the United Kingdom being one of the hardest-hit countries during the pandemic, Wembley Stadium in London is set to host the finale of the tournament. The Premier League was planning on reintroducing fans in early October, but a recent uptick in the U.K.’s case counts has pushed back that initiative indefinitely. 

While still many months away, it will be interesting to see how both of these major sporting events will be impacted by the ongoing pandemic.