Mixed reactions from fans as Chiefs, Texans observe pre-game moment of unity


The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans made headlines before they kicked off the 2020 NFL season on Thursday.

The Texans elected to return to their locker room ahead of the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — Chiefs players locked arms in the end zone during what is known as the Black National Anthem — and returned after “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played.

During the national anthem, Chiefs players stood together on the sideline, with defensive end Alex Okafor kneeling while raising his fist in the air.

Both teams lined up along the middle of the field, linking arms for what was announced as “a moment of silence dedicated to the on-going fight for equality in our country.”

Mixed reactions from fans were heard on the NBC broadcast, with boos and claps from the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium — a limited number of patrons were allowed in to keep with social distancing protocols.

Players from both teams had “been in talks about a joint demonstration” before the game that “makes a statement on racial injustice and shows unity,” according to NFL Network.

It is likely far from the last form of social-justice messaging from players and the NFL this season. The police-involved deaths of several Black persons in recent months have caused several players to speak out and saw many of the league’s most prominent voices, including commissioner Roger Goodell, change their stances on the subject.

Before kickoff, the Miami Dolphins announced in a video that they would be staying in the locker room for both anthems before their Sunday opener against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

“Before the media starts wondering and guessing, they just answered all your questions,” coach Brian Flores stated. “We’ll just stay inside.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew a heavily mixed reaction when he kneeled for social justice reform during the 2016 season. Numerous players have revealed plans to do so this season.

This report originally appeared on NYPost.com.



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Tents fit for a wedding reception and artfully constructed wooden bandstands: Welcome to outdoor classrooms during a pandemic — and now for the bad news


It didn’t take a pandemic for Sharon Danks to recognize the benefits of outdoor learning.

In fact, she started researching the environmental, physical and mental-health benefits of outdoor learning more than two decades before founding the nonprofit Green Schoolyards America seven years ago.

Before the pandemic, Danks partnered primarily with individual schools in districts near Berkeley, Calif., where the organization is based.

The pandemic, she said, has only strengthened the case for outdoor learning nationwide, especially given the amount of scientific research suggesting that the outdoors is less hospitable to the coronavirus than indoors where air circulation is significantly more limited.

See:Two teachers face a difficult choice: One welcomes ‘normalcy,’ while another feels ‘rage,’ and COVID-19 has radically altered feelings about school for both

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that schools “consider using outdoor space, weather-permitting, to enable social distancing.” The agency specifically recommends having lunch outside in place of in a communal cafeteria or otherwise eating within classrooms.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also urged schools to find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. “Get as much outdoors as you can,” he said in a Facebook
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live event in August. “If you look at the superspreader events that have occurred, they’re almost always inside.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes Fauci’s views also urging schools to “utilize outdoor spaces when possible.”

Some schools have even built wood bandstand-like structures in the grounds to provide children with outdoor spaces.

Weather permitting, others have opted for tents that look more like they’re going to welcome wedding guests instead of children and teachers. Another school simply uses a circle of tree stumps.

“Nature is something that has been proven to decrease stress levels, and, during this pandemic, there has so much stress and trauma,” Danks said. What’s more, not all school buildings have enough space for children to maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.

“Outside not only do you have air that isn’t recirculating, but kids don’t have to stay in assigned seats all day and can actually move around,” she said.

Many schools recognized that back in March when they shifted to virtual instruction and reached out to Danks inquiring about how they, too, could create outdoor learning environments in preparation for the fall.

The overwhelming amount of inquiries she received led her to partner with three other nonprofits to form a National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative that provides schools with templates for how to construct an outdoor classroom, lesson plans and other tools with the support of more than 400 landscaping, design and educational volunteers.

One problem she noticed: “The bigger the institution, the longer it takes to change direction. Smaller schools such as single-district public schools and independent nonprofit private schools are doing this much more quickly because they don’t need to ask for permission.”

Not all schools have parent-teacher associations

But school size isn’t the only thing holding back schools from building outdoor classrooms in parts of the country where in-person learning is allowed to take place.

For children with special needs, for example, an outdoor learning environment poses a slew of problems, said Mindy Rosier-Rayburn, an elementary special-education science teacher at the Mickey Mantle School in New York City.

As of Friday nearly 800 schools in the city were approved to offer outdoor learning.

The New York City Department of Education did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment regarding efforts to level the playing field for lower-income schools that would like to offer outdoor learning, but can’t because they lack the funds to do so.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio gave city public schools the go-ahead in late August to offer outdoor learning in streets and parks near schools, Rosier-Rayburn recognized that there would be a “glaring equity issue” for schools in higher-income neighborhoods versus lower-income ones like the school district she teaches at, in Harlem.

“The comments I heard early on were that PTAs can help pay for these things,” she said, “but my school doesn’t even have a PTA, and there are so many others that don’t.”

“We are a Title 1 school,” she said. This type of school typically has a high concentration of children from low-income families and receives federal grants. All students attending Mickey Mantle School qualify for free lunch, she said.

When Rosier-Rayburn started teaching science remotely in the spring, she said, “I didn’t even feel comfortable asking parents to get supplies to do science experiments. If the experiment involves something I think they had at home, I tried to do that.”

Even if Rosier-Rayburn’s school had access to funds to purchase tents and other outdoor items, it would be a nightmare for her and her fellow teachers.

“We have several children who are runners, and that terrifies us. In a building you can control the situation, but outside you can’t,” Rosier-Rayburn, who has been a special-education teacher for nearly 24 years, told MarketWatch.

“We’re always on guard — just like when people enter a room they look for the exit and nearest bathroom, we constantly have to think: What could a student possibly hurt themselves with? That’s why outside learning is the worst idea.”

Additionally, she said several autistic students “could have sensitivity to sounds like honking horns.” Another concern: Some children “tend to put everything in their mouths.”

Plans are still up in the air for the upcoming school year, which in New York City is slated to begin on Sept. 21 after the school date was pushed back when the United Federation Teachers, a labor union composed primarily of public school teachers, threatened to strike over safety concerns relating to in-person learning.

For all of the above reasons, Rosier-Rayburn said she’ll continue teaching remotely, since she has received a medical accommodation to do so.

(The UFT did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.)


Cara Sclafani, a parent of two children who attend P.S. 185, a New York City Title 1 public elementary school, also located in Harlem, has health-related reservations about even sending them back for partial in-person learning certain days each week during an ongoing public health crisis.

As co-chair of the District 3 Green Schools Group, a coalition of parent volunteers who represent Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of central Harlem, advocating for outdoor education, Sclafani has advocated outdoor learning as much as possible.

Over a year ago, she successfully received two grants from New York City nonprofits to transform a deserted lot on school grounds that was “pretty much overrun with weeds,” she said, into a school garden and outdoor learning area.

Pictured is one of the outdoor learning areas at P.S. 185 which was previously a vacant and overgrown lot.


Cara Sclafani

Last year, she said, it was always a challenge to get teachers to wander outside of the classroom, “even though we set up this nice area for them with a tree canopy, benches and a reading library.”


And now? “The teachers are going to bring their students outside at least once a day,” Sclafani told MarketWatch. “Whether it’s just to read a book, paint or have physical education outside.”

She considers these types of activities “easy wins” to accomplish. Ultimately, however, she and other members of D3GSG are working on a “long-term vision” of having a “full-blown outdoor learning program” by the spring of 2021.

Sclafani said she was directly inspired by a Green Schoolyards America workshop she attended in June about constructing an outdoor learning environment. The organization, she said, has helped redesign P.S. 185’s outdoor learning space. She is on the infrastructure team at Green Schoolyards and is helping advise other schools across the county.

”Having outdoor learning at P.S.185 is a key factor for my family in determining whether or not my kids will attend in-person learning. We don’t have the school schedule yet, but I am hopeful my kids will be getting outside for at least a couple hours every day.”




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Colin Kaepernick will take the field again in EA’s ‘Madden 21’


Colin Kaepernick is back on a football field. Kind of.

The quarterback, who has not played in the NFL since 2016, will be playable in Electronic Arts Inc.’s
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popular “Madden 21” videogame through a software update. Though Kaepernick is still not on any actual NFL team’s roster, he will be available to add to any team in the game.

“The team at EA Sports, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game,” EA Sports said Tuesday on Twitter. “Knowing that our EA Sports experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football. We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today.”

Since he’s no longer part of the NFL Players Association, EA reportedly negotiated directly with Kaepernick to add his likeness, which will include a “Black Power” salute when he scores a touchdown.

Kaepernick, then with the San Francisco 49ers, kicked off a social-justice movement in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and inequality in America. He faced backlash from many, including President Donald Trump, and has not played since that season. He later sued the league, claiming teams colluded to keep him from playing again. That suit was settled in 2019 for reportedly less than $10 million.

Earlier this year, the NFL admitted it should have supported Kaepernick’s protests at the time. “We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a video in June. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”

Goodell recently said he has “encouraged” NFL teams to sign Kaepernick, though none have.

Kaepernick, now 32, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, and for a while was one of the league’s most dynamic players. And though he hasn’t seen action in four years, EA Sports gave him an 81 overall rating — a elite number that’s better than Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (78) and young Cardinals star Kyler Murray (77).

It’s quite a turnaround for EA, which controversially deleted a reference to Kaepernick in song lyrics featured in “Madden 19,” a move it apologized for at the time.

While Kaepernick’s NFL future is unclear — Packers legend Brett Favre, for one, says he still has the skills to play — his backstory will be made into a Netflix
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series directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay.





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Moving? What you should know about doing it in a pandemic


Moving is stressful enough without throwing a pandemic into the mix.

Many Americans may be forced to consider moving as some federal foreclosure and eviction moratoriums have expired. In the first week of July, 32% of Americans did not make a full, on-time housing payment, according to a nationally representative survey by the website Apartment List. Others may relocate to save money, be closer to loved ones or simply leave a densely populated area.

If you’re considering moving, here’s what to know from a financial standpoint, as well as tips to make moving day safer.

Budget for extras

Aside from the usual expenses like buying boxes, renting a van or hiring movers, plan for extra costs because of the pandemic.

You may need to buy heavy-duty supplies to deep-clean your old place, for example, or to sanitize your new accommodations. If you are moving out of a rental unit, some landlords may ask you to pay for professional cleaners or take the cost out of your security deposit.

The Big Move: I work in Silicon Valley, but my job is now remote. I can finally live somewhere cheaper. Where should I go?

Moving across county or state lines? Check what the quarantine requirements are in your new location, says Jean Wilczynski, a certified financial planner and senior wealth adviser at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You may have to pay for quarantine accommodations like a hotel or Airbnb if your new apartment or home is not move-in ready, she says.

If you are receiving unemployment benefits, check the rules on how your benefits carry forward in your new location and what the taxes are if it is a new state, Wilczynski says. You can typically find this information on your state’s Department of Labor website, she says.

Also see: Relocating? Ask these 6 questions to find the place that’s right for you

If you are unemployed or your income has dropped as a result of the pandemic, you can also check whether you qualify for moving assistance by calling 211.

You might not be able to really get to know your new place until you’re living there, so prepare yourself (and your wallet) for surprises like leaky faucets or broken appliances. Landlords and real-estate agents may offer only virtual tours. And if you can see the new accommodations in person, you may be required to sign a waiver, wear a mask and avoid touching anything while in the house.

Stay safe during the move

How to move safely depends on whether you are doing it yourself or using movers. Current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the main way the coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets, says Lindsay Slowiczek, pharmacist and drug content integrity manager at Healthline.com. That’s why wearing a mask and staying away from people is important to slow the spread of the virus, she says. Sanitizing surfaces is also an extra precaution worth taking.

Moving yourself

If you’re renting a moving truck, companies like U-Haul offer contactless pickup and drop-off options. Slowiczek suggests sanitizing the door handles, steering wheel, radio and the metal tongue on the seat belt in the rental van.

Using movers

Before picking a moving company, check its website or call and ask about its safety practices in response to the pandemic, Slowiczek says. Ask whether the movers wear masks and gloves during the move.

On moving day, she suggests being prepared with a plan to limit interaction with movers and maintain social distancing. This includes packing as many things as you can yourself, or consider using a self-pack moving container as Slowiczek did for her own recent move.

The Big Move: I’m tired of renting in Manhattan, but love living in New York. Is now the time to buy if the city is supposedly dead?

If the movers will pack the truck, create a schedule for the movers. For example, ask them to start with a particular room as you stay in another. This is also particularly useful if you live with family members who are vulnerable or immunocompromised, she says. Try to limit their involvement with the move as much as possible.

“Plan out the way [the movers] are going to move through the house,” says Slowiczek. “If possible, move all of [your boxes] to one area in your home so they don’t have to come throughout your house as much.”

Keep hand sanitizer or soap handy during the move so that you and the movers can use it periodically, she says. (Check on the FDA website that your brand of hand sanitizer is methanol-free, Slowiczek adds). After the move, use disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean surfaces or furniture.

“Just using the product as-is is not enough — read the instructions on how long it should be wet on the surface,” Slowiczek says.

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As Big Ten and Pac-12 cancel their football seasons because of COVID-19, college sports programs are facing a financial apocalypse


While millions of fans are lamenting the looming disappearance of college sports this fall, the coronavirus pandemic is also exposing financial fault lines and a broken governance model that may trigger an opportunity to irrevocably transform big-dollar college athletic programs.

COVID-19 has cast a harsh spotlight on some painful truths about high-revenue college football in particular—notably, that the billions generated by lucrative media contracts and conference-owned networks have warped the mission and incentives in this educational not-for-profit model, resulting in years of overspending on coaching salaries and gilded sports facilities.

The absence of significant reserve funds to cover these costs, due to a “spend what we make” mentality, is evident in the painstaking and   splintered decision-making process on whether to play football in the fall and keep the TV money flowing.

These big-revenue programs are part of the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) — 130 football teams in all, whose athletics department budgets ranged from $16 million to $207 million in 2018. This 10-conference subdivision includes the only college football teams that still might play this fall — a number that dwindles by the day, with news Tuesday that the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences have cancelled the fall season.

The disjointed decision-making, with emergency
meetings of each conference’s governing board of university presidents, may
leave the viability of fall football in limbo for days or weeks. That muddle stands
in contrast to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, and all of
Division II and III, whose 600-plus colleges and universities have already
cancelled their fall championships, including football.

The Big Ten and Pac-12, along with the ACC, Big
12 and SEC, are members of the TV-revenue
rich “Power 5” conferences that ultimately control the decisions for FBS college
football.


The Power 5 would collectively lose more than $4 billion in football revenues from a mass cancellation, with each of its 65 programs losing an average of $62 million.

Adding to the turmoil, Power
5 football players are split about playing this fall. Hundreds of players from the
Pac-12 and Big 10 are demanding that their conferences meet
their safety and other concerns, while others have started their own campaign
to support playing this fall.

Black athletes account for more than half of football players in the Power 5 conferences, and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are roughly five times higher among Black Americans than white Americans. Given the disparate impact of the pandemic and emerging questions about the potential long-term health complications of COVID-19, athletes are raising critical questions about the priority of racial equity, health and safety.

The lack of unifying
leadership in making decisions about a fall season underscores college
football’s broken and fragmented governance system. Unlike the NCAA’s March
Madness basketball tournament, the FBS’s 10 conferences manage their lucrative postseason championship—the
College Football Playoff—independent of the NCAA
.

Last spring, the NCAA canceled
March Madness in one board meeting. By contrast, the presidents and
commissioners of each of the Power 5 conferences are making the call on fall
football on their own.  

Outside of the Power 5
conferences, the vast majority of 1,200 non-profit educational institutions in
the NCAA’s three divisions do not view athletics programs as money-makers. Colleges
and universities fund athletics as enhancements to student life, much like providing
opportunities for students to participate in dance, theater, debate, or other
development and civic engagement activities. At the more than 400 schools in
Division III, one
out of every six students participates in varsity sports.

While the absence of fall
sports at most NCAA institutions will not result in significant revenue
shortfalls in ticket sales or media contracts, the impact may be seen
in reduced tuition revenues for many small colleges that depend on athletics as
an enrollment tool for recruiting students.

At the other end of the
spectrum, the Power 5 football programs have created a financial structure that is “too big to fail.” The pandemic
should propel a radically reorganized way of doing business.

Twisted
incentives in FBS football

A crude sense of the
financial apocalypse that could result from cancelling football for all of the Power
5 conferences (as opposed to postponing football to the spring) can be gleaned
from institutionally-reported data collected for the Knight
Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics
, an independent group on which we serve that
has a legacy of influencing NCAA policy change.

Patrick Rishe, director of
the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, used our
database and other sources to project that the Power 5 would collectively lose more
than $4 billion in football revenues from a mass cancellation, with each of its
65 programs losing an average of $62 million.

Looking at fixed expenses, our database shows
that 54
of the public Power 5 institutions (data for private institutions is not available) hold $7.4
billion in total athletics debt for which they pay a combined $578 million in
annual debt service
.

These same institutions also have contracts with highly paid
coaches that, in many cases, don’t have “force majeure” clauses allowing for
reductions during a crisis, such as a pandemic. In 2018, these same 54
institutions spent more
than $2.4 billion
in coaching, administrative and staff salaries.

The other half of the FBS conferences outside the Power 5 have programs that face different financial realities. Two funding sources under severe strain during the pandemic—student fees and institutional support—make up 56% of these programs’ budgets.

Adding to their financial woes is the cancellation of early season non-conference road games against Power 5 football teams. In past seasons, these games have provided guaranteed million-dollar payouts, often accounting for 10% of the budgeted revenues for the entire athletics department of these lower-resourced programs.

With
important meetings to come, it is not yet clear if any FBS football games will
be played this fall or spring, but what is clear is a new model for college
sports should emerge.

For too long, Division I and its FBS football
model have been shaped by distorted non-educational incentives to simply win
games and boost television market share. At this moment of crisis, Division I
college presidents have an opportunity to demonstrate bold leadership. A
post-pandemic model for college sports should address excessive spending and
promote fiscal sanity, while creating incentives and new governance structures
that do more to prioritize college athletes’ education, health, safety and
success.

Nancy Zimpher is chancellor emeritus for the State University of New York and Jonathan Mariner is the former executive vice president and CFO of Major League Baseball. Both are board members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.



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