The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday it will not play nonconference games in football and several other sports this fall, the most dramatic move yet by a power conference because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league cited medical advice in making its decision and added ominously that the plan would be applied only “if the conference is able to participate in fall sports.” “As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the league said. Besides football, the sports affected include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic,” the Big Ten said. The announcement came a day after the Ivy League called off fall sports and Stanford announced it was cutting 11 varsity sports as it struggles with the financial impact the virus outbreak is having on its budget. There was no immediate reaction from the other big conferences, though the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 have all indicated they intend to play fall sports, anchored by football, by far the biggest moneymaker. Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk was asked about the possible rationale for a conference-only schedule. “Probably, it’s a comfort level of how protocols are being enacted, how testing is done and then keeping it within that family, if you will — your expanded social circle or social pod,” said Sterk, whose Tigers play in the SEC. “You might be able to control things more that way, or feel like you can, anyway versus the unknown of people coming from outside our 11 states.” The marquee nonconference matchups in the Big Ten this season included Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin on Oct. 3 at Lambeau Field, home of the NFL's Green Bay Packers. A handful of teams were scheduled to play two Big Ten opponents, including Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois. The Big Ten said it would release detailed schedules later and continue to evaluate other sports. The league said its schools will honor scholarships for athletes who choose not to compete in the upcoming academic year because of concerns about the coronavirus. Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson said he and his Big Ten colleagues 'know that there remain many questions that still need to be answered, and we will work toward finding those answers in the coming weeks.” ___ AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee and Cliff Brunt contributed to this report.
New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman said he hopes recent anti-Semitic social media posts by Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson can be a teaching moment, not just for him but others as well. In a video posted to Instagram on Thursday, Edelman joined the Eagles, NFL and others who have condemned Jackson’s posts over the weekend in which he shared a screenshot of a quote widely attributed to Adolf Hitler, saying in part: “Jews will blackmail America.” Jackson apologized for the posts in a video on Tuesday, saying in part that they weren’t intended to demean the Jewish community and that he “never should have posted anything Hitler did, because Hitler was a bad person, and I know that.” Edelman said Thursday that he waited to respond to Jackson’s initial post because of the complexity of the issue. The MVP of the 2019 Super Bowl noted that he has communicated in the past with Jackson over social media and said he has “nothing but respect for his game” on the field. “I know he said some ugly things, but I do see an opportunity to have a conversation,” Edelman said in the video. “I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and for me it’s not just about religion, it’s about community and culture as well. … There’s no room for anti-Semitism in this world.” Edelman acknowledged that he didn’t identify as Jewish until later in life, but he has since learned how destructive anti-Semitism can be. “Whenever I encountered hatred, it never really felt like it was aimed at me,” he said. “It was only after I was part of this community that I learned how destructive hate is.” But this isn’t the first time Edelman has spoken out about anti-Semitic incidents. Following the shooting massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in November 2018 that killed 11 people and injured six others, Edelman wore an Israeli baseball cap in his postgame interviews after a Patriots’ win over Green Bay to show solidarity. Edelman later acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that he has heard anti-Semitic taunts during games. “A lot of guys have got to deal with a lot of stuff when it comes to name calling,” he said. “You get so wrapped up in football and your assignment that you brush stuff off and don’t let it get to you. ... You take the high road, and you go from there.” Edelman closed his more than 2-minute video by saying that while he was talking about anti-Semitism on Thursday, he didn’t want to distract from the country’s conversation on race and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, which he said was challenging everyone to have “uncomfortable conversations.' “It’s really hard to see the challenges a community can face when you’re not part of it,” he said. “So what we need to do is we need to listen, we need to learn and we need to act if we’re gonna have real change.” To that end, he offered to accompany Jackson to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and promised to attend the National Museum of African-American History and Culture with Jackson in return. “Afterwards, we grab some burgers and we have those uncomfortable conversations,” Edelman said. ___ Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/khightower ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Major League Baseball will open the 2021 season on April 1 and hopes to have every team play its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968. The league released the full schedule Thursday, two weeks before it plans to begin a 2020 season that's been delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. MLB intended to start this season on March 26, its earliest opening date ever except for international games. The league also hoped to have all 30 clubs play on the same opening day this season, but that was spoiled when Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended spring training in March. Instead, a 60-game regular season schedule is scheduled to begin July 23, with clubs set to play only division foes and regional interleague opponents — AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central, AL West vs. NL West — to limit travel. Clubs will resume full intraleague schedules in 2021, and interleague play will again align regionally. The New York Mets will host the cross-town Yankees at Citi Field on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the first time the Subway Series will take place on Sept. 11. The Yankees will host the Mets during Fourth of July weekend. Atlanta will host the 91st All-Star Game on July 13 at Truist Park. It's Atlanta's first All-Star Game since hosting in 2000 at Turner Field. MLB also tried to have every team play its first game on the same day in 2018, but two games were postponed due to poor weather. The last day of the season will be Oct. 3. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and http://twitter.com/AP_Sports