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Sports column: COVID is shaping football playoff picture – The Vicksburg Post

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The news that Starkville High School’s football team was dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak shook up the Region 2-6A championship picture. It will force the Yellow Jackets — who were ranked No. 1 in the state before losing their last game — to forfeit a key game against Warren Central next week and might wind up costing them a playoff berth when everything shakes out.

It was a stunning development, but also one that hardly came as a surprise. It was more of a ticking time bomb that finally exploded.

The COVID-19 protocols in place for both the Mississippi High School Activities Association and Mid-South Association of Independent Schools require teams with more than a certain number of positive tests to quarantine all of their players for two weeks. That means shutting down practices and workouts, as well as games, and it seemed inevitable that at some point a championship contender was probably going to go down not with a loss on the field but one in the testing lab.

Starkville got lucky in that it has an open date this week. It will only have to forfeit one game and has banked a few wins to put itself in a good position to still reach the playoffs, provided it can play and win its final regular-season game against Clinton on Nov. 6. Several other teams around the state have not been as fortunate, and their forfeit losses have effectively killed their playoff chances.

As long as we’re living in daily fear of the COVID-19 virus and insisting on lockdowns, mask mandates and quarantines, this is an unavoidable situation that no one takes joy in. Even Warren Central coach Josh Morgan, whose team benefited the most from the Starkville situation, was somber when talking about it on Wednesday. Morgan seemed to realize that his team could be next, and had a “There but for the grace of God go I” attitude rather than a happy one.

“I hate for any team to have to go through that, because we’re all dealing with it,” Morgan said.

Starkville was not the first team to be affected by the COVID-19 protocols, and might not be the last as we approach the final weeks of the season. Important region games and even playoff games might have to be forfeited because of quarantine measures.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens if a participant in the playoffs or championship games has an outbreak. Will the MHSAA and MAIS award byes or state championships by default? Will they be able to postpone the games until the all clear is given? Will whoever lifts the championship trophies in November and December forever have an asterisk by their names if a couple of forfeit victories in the playoffs helped get them there?

We all knew the “COVID season” was going to be a strange one, where the team that wins it all might literally be the last team standing. So far, our local teams have been fortunate to largely avoid the coronavirus’ wrath. St. Aloysius and Warren Central have had postponements caused by other teams’ outbreaks, but all four Warren County schools have avoided their own outbreaks.

Let’s all hope there aren’t any more surprises coming in the next few weeks, both for the health and safety of everyone involved and to avoid cheapening an achievement so many people are striving for.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post’s sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post’s sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper’s 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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Sporting KC to host Minnesota United FC on Dec. 2 in Western Conference Semifinals

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Major League Soccer announced today the schedule for the conference semifinal round of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, which will feature a showdown between regional rivals Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United FC on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at Children’s Mercy Park.

The highly anticipated Western Conference Semifinal is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT with national coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app. A very limited number of tickets for the match are available at SeatGeek.com with stadium capacity reduced to 18% and comprehensive health and safety protocols in place at Children’s Mercy Park.

Following the Round One elimination of No. 1 seed Philadelphia Union and No. 2 seed Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas now holds homefield advantage in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs through the 2020 MLS Cup as the top seed in the West.

The winner between Sporting and Minnesota will advance to face No. 2 seed Seattle Sounders FC or No. 6 seed FC Dallas in the Western Conference Final on Sunday, Dec. 6. If Sporting reaches the Conference Final, Season Ticket Members will have access to an exclusive 24-hour ticket presale for the game beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Dec. 3. Remaining tickets will then go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. CT on Dec. 4 via SeatGeek.com.

Sporting Kansas City and No. 4 seed Minnesota United FC will enter their conference semifinal matchup on the heels of momentous victories in Round One. Sporting prevailed 3-0 on penalties after battling the San Jose Earthquakes to a wild 3-3 draw on Sunday afternoon, while Minnesota collected their first-ever playoff win later that evening with a 3-0 home result against the Colorado Rapids.

Next Wednesday’s win-or-go-home encounter will mark the first time Sporting and Minnesota have met in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The Midwestern rivals have squared off 13 times across all competitions since Minnesota joined MLS in 2017, with Sporting owning a 7-4-2 record overall and a perfect 6-0-0 mark at home. The Loons have been outscored 15-1 in their six previous visits to Children’s Mercy Park.

Sporting ended the 2020 regular season by going 6-1-1 down the stretch, claiming their fourth first-place conference finish since 2011, before ousting San Jose in Round One. Meanwhile, Minnesota boasts a league-best nine-game active unbeaten run after going 4-0-4 in their last eight regular season games and defeating Colorado in their Round One contest. The Loons haven’t lost since Sept. 23.

The Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will conclude with the league’s 25th championship game on Saturday, Dec. 12, as the Eastern and Western Conference champions meet in the 2020 MLS Cup.

Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs: Conference Semifinal Schedule

  • Sunday, Nov. 29: (4) Orlando City SC vs. (8) New England Revolution
    2 p.m. CT | ABC, ESPN Deportes, ESPN app
  • Sunday, Nov. 29: (3) Columbus Crew SC vs. (7) Nashville SC
    7 p.m. CT | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN app
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1: (2) Seattle Sounders FC vs. (6) FC Dallas
    8:30 p.m. CT | FS1, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports App
  • Wednesday, Dec. 2: (1) Sporting Kansas City vs. (4) Minnesota United FC
    8 p.m. CT | FS1, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports App



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DICK’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack Stepping Down After 36 Years – CBS Pittsburgh

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(CNN) — Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack is stepping down after 36 years, a tenure in which he transformed his family’s small business into a national presence, took the company public, and enacted a strong stance on the US gun debate.

Stack, 65 years old, will take on the role of executive chairman and continue as a chief merchant, the company announced Tuesday. Dick’s President Lauren Hobart will ascend to the CEO role on February 1, becoming the company’s first female chief executive.

Stack’s father founded the company in 1948, and Stack has served as chairman and CEO of Dick’s since 1984 when he and his siblings bought his father’s two small sporting goods stores in upstate New York. Under Stack’s leadership, the company now has more than 850 stores and nearly $9 billion in annual revenue.

Dick’s became part of the US debate over guns when Stack took a bold stance after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Shortly after the shooting, Dick’s announced it would stop selling semi-automatic, assault-style rifles as well as high-capacity magazines that hold several bullets for semi-automatic weapons. The company also stopped selling weapons to customers under 21.

Stack, a gun owner who believes in the Second Amendment, said he decided to make the changes after he learned the teen charged with the shooting had bought a shotgun at a Dick’s store, though that gun wasn’t used in the attack. Dick’s had sold guns since long before Stack started working there in 1977.

Now he will pass the reins to Hobart. “She has proven herself to be a capable, innovative and respected leader who has helped drive our business and our culture,” Stack said in a press release.

Hobart will inherit the company in a strong position: Even during the pandemic, Dick’s stock is up nearly 19% from this time last year. “There has been a greater shift toward athletic apparel and active lifestyle [products] with people spending more time working and exercising at home,” Stack said on a call with analysts in August.

Dick’s reported solid earnings Tuesday, with sales at stores open for at least one year growing 23.2% last quarter.

The company announced earlier this year that it will close its stores on Thanksgiving Day.

Correction: Ed Stack is a gun owner, but does not hunt. A previous version of this story misidentified Stack as a hunter.

The-CNN-Wire
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Virginia Beach City Public Schools cancels some sports seasons

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VBCPS also said it is changing how it will make decisions about bringing kids back to the classroom.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach City Public Schools is changing how it will make decisions about bringing kids back to the classroom.

Instead of looking at data over 14 days, it will look at seven-day metrics.

In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday, leaders said just one week gives them enough time to confirm data trends and communicate with staff and families about what will happen next.

Right now, all students are back home because the metrics entered the “red zone.” Things need to improve — and stay that way — for seven days before Option 1 students go back to school.

VBCPS also gave an update about school sports. The Virginia Beach Middle School League canceled Season 1 activities such as basketball and Academic Challenge. All winter junior varsity sports are also benched.

Varsity teams are going ahead with Virginia High School League restrictions.


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