A former world champion has had to pull out of a competition. Injury? Illness? Nope. Poor Wi-Fi. Welcome to sports in 2020.
Darts has an advantage over other sports at a time like this: The players don’t interact with one another. So it’s very possible to host events with each contestant in a different location.
Top players from around the world have been convening for hastily arranged competitions that are among the few world-class sports events still going on anywhere.
The Professional Darts Corporation, the top organization in the sport, announced a 128-player tournament starting Friday — the P.D.C. Home Tour, featuring many of the world’s best players.
But Gary Anderson, a two-time world champion, won’t be participating. The Wi-Fi at his house in Somerset, in southwest England, just isn’t up to the task of streaming his throws.
“I was up for it, but when we did tests of my Wi-Fi, it’s just not reliable enough,” Anderson told The Sun. “It doesn’t surprise me. I struggle to pay bills online in my house; it’s really frustrating.”
Also out of the tournament is the top-10 player Daryl Gurney of Northern Ireland, who says he just doesn’t have the space. “Most of the leading players have a proper room kitted out for the job with fancy lighting,” he told the BBC. “My dartboard is on the back of my bedroom door. I stand in the hall at the top of the stairs and I have one foot in the bathroom and one in the hall. So if someone needs to go to the bathroom I can’t throw.”
Athletes Raise Concerns About Returning to Play
Just about every sport is eager to get going again. But will the athletes be just as eager to participate? A few have started raising concerns about rushing back into the arena.
Willian, the Chelsea midfielder, said merely keeping fans out of the stadium, as many leagues have suggested, might not be enough to reassure him.
“If we restart playing without fans but there’s contact on the pitch … maybe we can spread the virus between us,” Willian, who is currently in his native Brazil, told The Associated Press. “I play against someone and I get the virus, then I go home after the game to stay with my family and pass the virus to my wife or daughters. So we have to be careful about that.”
The Tour de France has been rescheduled to start on Aug. 29, two months late. But at least two teams have said they are not ready to commit without reservations.
“We would want to see proper mitigation techniques before the event,” Jonathan Vaughters, the manager of the Education First team, which includes several American riders, told The Guardian. “Maybe by July or August the virus has abated to the point that it’s not such a risk, but I can say that if there is a risk of a second wave that the Tour might be part of, then we would demand that there would be major mitigation before the event.”
“We would reserve the right to withdraw the team should we deem it necessary,” said Dave Brailsford of the Ineos team, which includes the defending champion, Egan Bernal. “Whilst the race is on, we will plan to participate, but equally we will monitor the evolving nature of how things play out.”
Yielding to the French Open
The trouble with rescheduling a major sporting event is that the new dates you pick probably already have other sports on the schedule.
When the French Open tennis tournament moved from its usual dates in late May and early June to two weeks beginning on Sept. 20, it did not go unnoticed that this would clash with the Laver Cup, an annual men’s team event pitting Europe against the rest of the world.
The conflict led to concern that Roger Federer, a co-creator of the Laver Cup and no lover of clay-court events, would skip the French this year.
But in the end, the Laver Cup blinked. It will skip its 2020 edition and return in 2021, with Boston still the host.
N.B.A. Protective Gear, Anyone?
You have the jerseys, the hats, the T-shirts. Now, fans have a new way to rep their favorite basketball teams … on their faces.
Multiple states are now requiring people to wear masks when out in public to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And soon, fans will be able to have masks with N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. logos on them.
The masks cost $14.99 each at the N.B.A.’s online store, or $24.99 for a pack of three. Proceeds will be donated to charity. DANIELLE ALLENTUCK
Backyard Baseball and a Broken Window
Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly set up a target in his in his backyard, as well as a net to catch the balls as he went through his training program. Seemed like a good idea, until he threw too far to the right and broke a window.
“Wondering how quarantine is going?” his wife, Ashley, asked in an Instagram story. “Joe is working on a changeup.”
“That’s cool,” she said as she showed the damaged window. “Rad.”
Nick Solak, a utility player on the Texas Rangers, and his fiancée, Roxanne McVey, built a mini ballpark in their backyard, complete with an on-deck circle. Solak used a Wiffle ball machine to practice hitting, and McVey used a tennis racket to send him fly balls.
Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, a top Orioles prospect, recently took the long toss to a new level. He showed off his arm strength by throwing across a small lake, calling it the East Texas long toss in a tweet. DANIELLE ALLENTUCK