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Was The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Too Good To Win (In Court)?

This week, we have the pleasure to be joined once again by The Athletic’s Meg Linehan, who walks us through the latest ruling in the U.S. women’s national team lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The judge threw out a large portion of the USWNT’s case, citing differences in the men’s and women’s collective bargaining agreements. We talk about what makes the situation more complicated — that the American men may have actually helped the federation’s case by being mediocre, and the American women may have hurt their case by being phenomenal. The USWNT has said they will attempt to appeal the judgment, but Meg thinks this ruling might clear a path for the two sides to negotiate a settlement. While the timing of the case itself may not have been fortuitous, U.S. Soccer’s change in leadership (and continuing PR nightmare in appearing to disrespect its most popular product) has come at perhaps exactly the right time.

Next, we take a look at where leagues around the U.S. are in their plans to (re)start playing. The NFL, which benefited the most from the timing of the outbreak and is the least equipped to handle social distancing, is planning for everything to be more or less normal in September. But unless things get really bad, there are probably going to be states across the country that will be motivated to get us ready for some football. The NBA, meanwhile, is scrambling just to get players practicing again, but it has gamed out how to finish its regular season in only 88 days — both for the sake of fairness and for the sake of television contracts. The NHL and WNBA may go to Vegas to make their seasons happen, while MLB may simply wait out any outbreaks and play a bunch of doubleheaders. Of these plans, we think that basketball has the most incentive to return and baseball the best shot of playing first. Also, we accidentally fix golf.

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil walks us through the precipitous fall in quality of sports video games. Why? The rise of microtransactions that some consider predatory has something to do with it. But monopolies among the developers of FIFA, Madden and NBA 2K dampened their incentives to build more than just “good enough” games. Sports games may have always been rendered secondary to the Fortnites and Animal Crossings of the world, but they didn’t do themselves any favors.

What we’re looking at this week:

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.