College Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Dodgers take a stand against racial injustice

Ten Los Angeles Dodgers players have spoken out against racial injustice in a video released July 16 and committed to use their platforms to amplify the voices of Los Angeles social justice organizations.

“For centuries, the Black community has lived in a different America,” pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. “Instead of addressing racism, inequality, and injustice, many of us simply look away.

“Silence is no longer an option. I’m fighting for my teammates, their families, and their communities.”

The other Dodgers speaking on the video were Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Kike Hernandez, Gavin Lux, Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, Ross Stripling, Justin Turner and Alex Wood.

The players said they also will match funds raised from the “In This Together” special edition T-shirts benefiting the California Funders for Boys & Men of Color Southern California: Our Kids, Our Future Fund.

The Dodgers wore the “In This Together” T-shirts during a workout at Dodger Stadium last week. The T-shirts are available for purchase at Dodgers.com/Together.

The group is a coalition of 13 organizations including the Children’s Defense Fund of California, Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition and the Community Coalition.

Kershaw, Pederson, Stripling and Turner participated in a listening session last week with leaders of four of the organizations comprising the California Funders for Boys & Men of Color Southern California who shared the history of racial and social inequities in Los Angeles and how their respective organizations have been working for decades to seek change.

The players discussed how they want to use their platforms and resources to support the coalition’s efforts and be allies for the Black community.

Additional sessions are planned.

A member of the Los Angeles Angels made his own social justice statement this week.

Angels relief pitcher Keynan Middleton evoked the names of Jackie Robinson and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in explaining why he took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the Angels’ home exhibition game July 20.

“Racism is something I’ve dealt with my entire life,” Middleton wrote on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. “As a Black man in this country it is my obligation to want to better the future for generations to come.

“Over the past few months I’ve been out in the community taking part in peaceful protests and having the difficult conversations that are needed for change.

“Before pioneers like Jackie Robinson, a Black man didn’t have a voice in the game of baseball. The foundation laid down and sacrifices made by Jackie and others is the reason I have the platform I do.

“I will not allow that to go to waste. Kneeling for me is one way I can use my platform for change in a peaceful way. I have the utmost respect for all the brave men and women that served this country.

“We must all take this fight against racial injustice seriously. Until things start to change in this country and my brothers and sisters don’t have to live in fear I will be using my platform to implement change.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Cancel that USC season opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, Sept. 5. Ditto for the season finale against Notre Dame in the Coliseum.

The Pac-12 Conference has announced conference-only schedules for football and several other fall sports this year.

The decision limiting the conference’s football teams to playing only Pac-12 opponents means the cancellations of three games for each team.

The decision means USC’s scheduled games against Alabama Sept. 5 in Arlington, Texas, Notre Dame Nov. 28 and New Mexico Sept. 12 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum are canceled, as are UCLA’s scheduled games against New Mexico State Aug. 29 at the Rose Bowl, Hawaii Sept. 5 in Honolulu and San Diego State Sept. 19 in San Diego.

The Pac-12 is developing a series of potential fall sport scheduling models including conference-only schedules and delayed season starts. The decision also affects men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The conference made clear that it hopes to play football and all other fall sports, provided the conference can meet the health and safety needs of its athletes and obtain appropriate permissions from state and local health authorities.

The conference is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators, which have recently trended in a negative direction, provide sufficient positive data to enable a move to a second phase of return-to-play activities.

Pac-12 athletes who choose not to participate in intercollegiate athletics during the 2020-21 academic year because of safety concerns about COVID-19 will continue to have their scholarships honored by their universities and will remain in good standing with their teams.

“Confronted with an unprecedented global pandemic, in going to a conference-only schedule for fall sports in 2020, the Pac-12 Conference is acting responsibly on behalf of the health and safety of all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff while trying to do everything possible so we can compete this year,” USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said.

Bohn said he has communicated with the athletic directors as Alabama, Notre Dame and New Mexico “and there is no additional information to share at this time.”

The cancellation of the season opener drew mixed reactions from USC fans. Most were happy to hear the Alabama game was canceled, fearful of a repeat of the 52-6 beat down Alabama laid on the Trojans in 2016.

Some fans were hoping the Trojans could surprise Alabama in the season opener, since Alabama lost several standouts from last season to the NFL and is breaking in a new quarterback.

The cancellation of the Notre Dame game is news because it will mark the first time since 1945 that the two schools haven’t met in football during the season.

The USC-Notre Dame series, which began in 1926, has been contested every year except 1943-45 during World War II when travel was limited.

UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond said his university “fully supports” the decision “to delay the start of mandatory athletic activities and to limit fall seasons for several sports to conference-only competition.”

“The health and safety of our student-athletes, staff and fans is paramount, and this move affords us the greatest level of flexibility to adapt and evolve in real time, in the midst of a very fluid situation,” Jarmond said.

MORE CANCELLATIONS: The Los Angeles Rams told season ticket holders July 21 that the team anticipates the NFL canceling preseason play, making their first game at SoFi Stadium the Sept. 13 “Sunday Night Football” game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The team also told season ticket holders if fans are allowed to attend games at SoFi Stadium during the 2020 season, the capacity at the 70,240-seat stadium would be limited to approximately 15,000 to allow for social distancing. Wearing a face covering would be required.

The first NFL preseason game at SoFi Stadium was scheduled for Aug. 14 matching the Rams and New Orleans Saints. The Rams other home preseason game was scheduled Aug. 29 against the Denver Broncos.

The Rams were also scheduled to play a third preseason game at the Inglewood stadium, Aug. 22 against the Los Angeles Chargers in what would have been a Chargers home game.

The Chargers confirmed in an email sent to season ticket members that if they are able to have fans at their games it will be at a reduced capacity to accommodate state and local social distancing guidelines and mandates.

Single-game tickets that have been purchased have been canceled due to the reduction in capacity, and full refunds will be sent in three-to-seven days per the Chargers and Ticketmaster.

SOCCER TOURNAMENT: The opening stage of Major League Soccer’s MLS Is Back tournament ends July 23 with Los Angeles Football Club expecting to move ahead to the second round and the Los Angeles Galaxy gtetting ready to fly home. With one game left in group play, LAFC is in second in Group F with four points behind group leader Portland, which has six points.

LAFC is 1-0-1 so far in the tournament, defeating the Galaxy 6-2 July 18 after playing Houston to a 3-3 tie in the tournament opener.

The Galaxy is 0-2, losing to Portland, 2-1 in its opener.

The Galaxy plays Houston July 23 and LAFC plays Portland. If LAFC defeats or ties Portland, the club will advance to the second round.