The Latest: Pioneer League drops fall football amid virus

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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The Pioneer League will not play a fall football schedule, a decision that likely means there will be no FCS playoffs this season.

The 11-team Pioneer League spans from the Midwest to the West Coast. The conference said in a statement the challenges related to team travel, meeting state, local and institutional health requirements and COVID-19 mitigation strategies led to the decision. The Pioneer League said it would consider playing a football season at another point in the school year if feasible.

The NCAA this week announced it would not conduct championship events in sports where at least 50% percent of the participating schools do not play a fall regular season. Unless Pioneer League schools pursue a football season as independents, the number of FCS schools that have canceled fall football is 68 out of 127.

The Big Sky was also expected to announce soon whether it will play in the fall.

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The Southeastern Conference will require football players and others in direct contact with the program to be tested at least twice weekly during the season.

The league on Friday released its initial COVID-19 requirements for fall sports, including football. In football, the testing will typically come six days and three days before competition.

Coaches, staff and other personnel will be required to wear face coverings on the sidelines at sporting events this fall.

The initial guidelines include testing requirements, procedures for infections and contact tracing and protocols for quarantine and isolation.

The rules, which also apply to volleyball and soccer, were recommended by the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force.

The league expects the task force to release another report by Aug. 31.

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The Detroit Lions are preparing to host fans at all eight regular-season home games, although it’s uncertain how many will be allowed to attend.

The NFL club said Friday season-ticket holders can opt out of purchasing tickets for the 2020 season if they want. The team also is offering various incentives for fans who defer payments to the 2021 season instead of asking for refunds.

Fans and employees at Ford Field would be required to wear face coverings. Designated gates and entry times would be assigned to fans.

The team says the ability to host fans at a reduced capacity depends on local and state approval.

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What did cricket fans do when there was no live games to watch during lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic?

Watched replays. Lots of replays.

The International Cricket Council released figures Friday showing it had 1.65 billion video views on its Facebook channel in the first half of 2020, saying it “topped the rankings in terms of video consumption among leading sports bodies” on the social media platform.

Cricket was shuttered globally from late March until last month, when host England beat West Indies 2-1 in a three-test series that was played inside bio-secure venues in Southampton and Manchester.

The ICC, citing statistics from the CrowdTangle analytics tool, said daily video consumption on its Facebook page increased from 3 million minutes viewed to 15 million minutes per day during the lockdown.

“At a time when COVID-19 has severely impacted live sports, the ICC’s channels have gone from strength to strength,” the ICC said in a statement.

Cricket hit some highs in terms of viewership over the 12 months to June, including the 1.1 billion views for the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in February and March.

Online traffic from India helped. The final between Australia and India, which attracted a crowd of more than 86,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, set a single-day record for women’s tournament with 64.9 million views on the ICC Facebook page.

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Categories: National Sports

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