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Will The Power Five Try To Power Through?

We begin with the latest developments and/or setbacks in college football’s attempts to get off the ground. Players from the Pac-12 have posted a list of demands around player safety, racial justice and economic opportunity that they want met to ensure their participation; the SEC admitted on a call that positive coronavirus cases on their teams were “a given”; and programs continue to be hit by COVID-19-related closures. While there is talk of the Power Five conferences potentially breaking away and forming their own league — really, the United States’ second professional football league (our apologies to the XFL and The Rock) — we remain unconvinced that college football is actually going to happen this fall. We’re optimistic that the pandemic could be a catalyst for some of the changes the players are advocating, even if many of their demands appear a little too unrealistic to be realized without more economic pressure. But we agree that something needs to give for the long-term viability of college football as we know it, and the most likely time for that to happen is in a crisis.

Next, we finally get to talk about multiple live sports! Are there too many sports all of sudden? Maybe, but we love having the NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLS, the PGA Championship and MLB (for now) back on our television screens. We discuss the developments over the weekend in the major leagues: In the NBA, the Raptors suddenly look a lot better, but our RAPTOR still only gives them a 2 percent chance, so don’t get too excited too quickly in Toronto; the WNBA is full of drama, including the improbable success of the Washington Mystics, tied for best record in the league even though down four of their stars; in baseball, Sara’s Minnesota Twins look satisfyingly dominant, but the abbreviated season is so weird, will we need to talk about how well the Orioles are doing? (Probably not.) And hockey got off to a great start, with a truly buzzer-beating win by the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues, a good showing by the Carolina Hurricanes (at the New York Rangers’ expense), and even a fight. That EA Sports sound library the NHL is using to pipe in crowd noise is clearly doing its job. We’re all looking forward to different things, but it is very exciting to have enough sports to watch that it’s kind of overwhelming.

Finally, as we get all our sports back, Neil takes us down a Rabbit Hole of the best players who are sitting out 2020. Purposefully on the bench are several Washington Mystics; many midtier NBA players; Yoenis Cespedes, as of, like, Monday afternoon; and also a fair number of New England Patriots. It’s unclear if that means that Bill Belichick is up to something, but it is certain that we are going to think about these seasons differently because of all the talent that’s missing.

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.