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Inside the turbulent journey to Ortega vs. Chan Sung Jung

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Angela Hill was sitting in the second row at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on March 7 as Joanna Jedrzejczyk was walking out to challenge women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili in the co-main event of UFC 248.

Out of the corner of her eye, Hill saw UFC featherweight Brian Ortega coming toward the area where she was seated with her husband, Adam Blair Pryde, who was on her left.

“I’ve seen him a few times in person,” Hill said. “So I did one of those embarrassing things where I thought he was coming over to me. I was like, ‘Hey.’ But he wasn’t coming over to me.”

No, Ortega was looking past Hill, to the man sitting to her right. Ortega asked the man if he was Jay Park, the Korean pop star who is also the co-manager — and sometimes interpreter — for Ortega’s rival Chan Sung Jung, aka “Korean Zombie.”

Park said he was, and as Park got up, Ortega slapped him across the face with his right hand.

“It was really loud,” Hill said. “He just smacked the s— out of him.”

Park stumbled, but then tried to lunge toward Ortega. Hill held Park back, while Blair Pryde attempted to restrain Ortega. UFC and arena security were quickly on the scene. As he was being pulled away, Ortega could be heard in a video published on TMZ saying in the direction of Park: “I told you I’d slap you like a b—-.”

It was the first — and so far only — physical salvo in one of the most extraordinary rivalries in the UFC, a feud that has spanned more than a year. It has included social media smack talk, an endearing cultural gesture, an injury withdrawal and the open-handed slap of a non-fighter.

The one thing it hasn’t included? An actual fight between Ortega and Jung. That will change Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi. Ortega and Jung are two of the best and most exciting featherweight fighters in the world. When they clash on “Fight Island,” the winner will land a title shot against champion Alexander Volkanovski, according to UFC president Dana White.

“If Zombie still has negative feelings for what Brian did — which he has a right to do — it [ means] more to him than [just a sport],” said Ortega’s longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, Rener Gracie. “If Brian, even though he squashed it, still feels like the disrespect that was thrown his way warrants a response, then it’s more than the sport. That’s kind of up to them. That’s what the world has to wait to find out.”


Jung knocked out Renato Moicano with a bomb of a right hand in just 58 seconds on June 22, 2019. The talk of a potential fight between Ortega and Jung started heating up thereafter. The matchup made sense as both men were jockeying for position near the top of the featherweight rankings.

On the day of Jung’s knockout win, Ortega posted on Instagram, “September ready,” indicating when he would be ready to return from injuries he suffered in a title loss to Max Holloway seven months earlier. On July 15, 2019, Jung responded with “Me too,” adding the flags of South Korea and Mexico (Ortega is Mexican American). Four days later, Jung posted an edited side-by-side shot of himself and Ortega with the caption “What are you doing?” and the hashtag #answerme. Park, who has more than 4 million Instagram followers, commented on the post and tagged Ortega. “im a fan but my guy is calling you out!!” Park wrote.

Ortega fired back on July 24, 2019, referencing Jung’s KO losses: “I’m the real zombie. I don’t go down with head shots.”

On Aug. 2, 2019, Jung posted a Photoshopped image of himself as a zombie on Instagram with the caption: “Are you still scared of me ??” and the hashtag #chicken.

In an interview with MMAFighting.com on Aug. 22, 2019, Ortega questioned Jung’s trash talk and where it was coming from. Jung had not been known for aggressive posts like that.

“I want to give the fans a main event fight somewhere,” Ortega said. “‘Korean Zombie’ sounds good, especially after the fact that he’s talking s—, which is not like him, so I’m guessing there’s something behind that.”

On Sept. 23, 2019, Ortega vs. Zombie was finally booked for Dec. 21 in Busan, South Korea. Ortega posted on Instagram: “Who’s scared? I’m coming to you.”

Ortega flew to Seoul, South Korea, for a media tour to promote the UFC Busan main event on Oct. 14, 2019. While waiting for the news conference to begin, Ortega was approached by one of Jung’s interpreters. The interpreter said Jung wanted to apologize for the social media posts. Ortega said Jung should come over and say it himself, which he did. Ortega accepted. The hatchet — for the time being — was buried.

“If a grown-ass man comes up to you, says sorry and shakes your hand, that takes a lot from where I come from,” Ortega told ESPN recently. “I take that respect and said, ‘All right.’ Brush it under the rug and don’t worry about it.”

That day, Ortega said he also asked a member of Jung’s team what had spurred the recent trash talk. Ortega said he was told that it wasn’t Jung but Park, who manages Jung in South Korea. Ortega made a mental note of that. But Jung apologized, and that was good enough for Ortega.

In fact, Ortega wasn’t content with just positive words during the news conference. After the two did their traditional staredown after the presser, Ortega made a gesture, putting his index finger and thumb together and held it up to Jung. The gesture is called a “finger heart” and is popular in South Korea as a sign of endearment.

“There’s no need to hype up the fight in a negative way,” Ortega said. “The Korean heart and the love, the respect — the whole world saw that Korean heart — that’s the way I wanted it to be. That’s why I did it that way. I said, ‘Let’s make this funny, let’s make this real, let’s make this respectable.’ Let’s have fun in there.”

Jung was clearly stunned by the gesture. He put his face in his hands and patted Ortega on his shoulder. The two put their arms around each other’s shoulders and took photos for the media in attendance.

“We were on good terms,” Jung recently told ESPN through an interpreter. “He had good manners — the heart sign he gave. I had no animosity for him. … That’s a Korean thing that a lot of Americans don’t know, the heart sign with the fingers. I thought it was cute.”


The fight fell apart on Dec. 4. Ortega was forced to withdraw with a partial ACL tear. The news was a huge blow to Ortega, who had spent almost all of 2019 healing from injuries. Ortega had not fought since a fourth-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage) loss — the first of his career — to Holloway in a featherweight title fight at UFC 231 on Dec. 8, 2018.

“It was like, we’re finally here,” Ortega said. “Like this took way too f—ing long [to come back]. And then right before the fight another injury happened. Story of my f—ing life. Really? This had to happen?”

Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, a man Ortega had already knocked out, filled in against Jung. It didn’t last long. “Zombie” finished Edgar at 3:18 of the first round via TKO.

With two straight first-round finishes, the surging Jung turned his attention to either Volkanovski, who was the current champ, or Holloway, the former champ. In an interview on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Feb. 10, Jung said he no longer had much interest in fighting Ortega.

“Ortega already ducked me one time,” Jung said via translation from Park. “I don’t need to fight a fighter that’s ducking me.”

That set Ortega off. He was frustrated by his injury and did not appreciate Jung — even assuming Park was the instigator — going back to trash talk after the two mended fences in Seoul. In the comments on the interview clip posted to the ESPN MMA Instagram account, Ortega commented: “Jay Park welcome to the fight game don’t be surprised if I slap the s— out of you when I see you.”

Ortega said Jung already had someone interpreting for him on the Helwani Show, Korean American Jung coach Eddie Cha. Ortega felt that Park’s role was to be an antagonist, and that ticked him off. With Park being one of Jung’s managers, along with Jason House in the United States, Ortega believed Park was trying to create some buzz.

“I feel like he knows that Korean Zombie is not going to do it,” Ortega said of the trash talk. “Which means, if you don’t stir up the pot, it won’t sell. If you don’t sell, [Park] don’t make money. He’s stirring up the pot, so [Jung] could get more attention, so [Park] could get more money. … It left a bitter taste in my mouth.”

Cha said it was his idea for Park to help with the interpreting on the Helwani Show. Park is a well-known musician worldwide and does have a flair for entertainment. But, Cha said, Park didn’t mistranslate anything that Jung had said. Cha said everything Jung writes on social media or says in interviews is Jung’s own words.

“It’s not gonna be a perfect translation any time you translate English to Korean and so forth,” Cha said. “It was literally the same thing. I think [Ortega] thought that [Park] was making him say those things and writing the script, which was totally absurd. I was right there. It wasn’t anything that Jay did. He was sitting there, just translating.”


play

1:04

Jay Park explains why he doesn’t understand Brian Ortega’s confrontation with him at UFC 248.

On March 7, 2020, Jung; his wife, Sun Young; Park; and House were sitting two rows from the cage for UFC 248. As the co-main event fighters entered the Octagon, Ortega made his way over to where Jung’s party was seated. Jung and his wife had stepped away, and Ortega made good on his Instagram promise — he confronted Park and slapped him across the face.

Security separated them and escorted Park to the greenroom backstage, where he met up with Jung, Sun Young, House and Cha. UFC executive vice president and chief business officer Hunter Campbell came into the room to see what was going on. So did Las Vegas Metro Police Department officers. Park was interviewed for an incident report. Jung sat there quietly, seething.

In an angry Instagram post, Jung wrote: “It was not a fight like real men would do. What you have done is same as a grown-up to beat a child. You should have attacked me. If so, I would have not been upset. You are such a coward for slapping a musician not a fighter … Now, your f—ing face stays in my mind and I will f— you up in the cage. I hope you won’t run away from me again.”

View this post on Instagram

My pride is my enemy, and over the last couple days I’ve been battling it. I hope you understand that I’m human and I’m flawed, in more ways than one. In the beginning, I justified my actions based on the series of events that led up to Saturday, but I now realize that what I did was wrong overall. My parents taught me dignity and respect, and I didn’t show that. My coaches have always taught me that martial arts are to empower the weak against the strong. On Saturday, that didn’t happen. _ When I make a mistake, I own the consequences. But in this case the negativity that I’ve caused has spilled over to the people closest to me, and that’s how I know that what I did was truly wrong. I’m sorry to you guys and my family. _ I apologize to @JParkitrighthere for my actions and the shit storm that followed, you deserve to enjoy MMA from outside the octagon just like any other fan. I apologize to @KoreanZombieMMA for dragging your friend into an equation that should start and end with the fighters.

A post shared by Brian Ortega (@briantcity) on Mar 11, 2020 at 2:41pm PDT

Jung’s team demanded Ortega apologize or Park would press charges. Two nights later, Ortega posted on Twitter that he was sorry for slapping the interpreter and the K-pop star but “I don’t apologize for slapping the ‘instigator.'” Ortega later deleted that post and tweeted a more formal apology March 10.

“I don’t want to take this dude’s money,” Park said March 9 on the Helwani Show. “I don’t want him to go to jail or anything like that. I don’t wish anything bad about him. It was just really weird. I don’t know what other way to put it. I don’t know what he was thinking. He needs to get his act together. Real talk.”

Per Las Vegas Metro PD spokesperson Larry Hadfield, Park has a year from the incident date to decide whether to pursue charges against Ortega. Because of that and the potential for a lawsuit, Ortega said he’d rather not speak in detail about what happened.

Ortega understands the backlash, though. What he did to Park seemed the polar opposite of how he has been viewed during his UFC run. Ortega is one of the UFC’s most popular fighters — he’s in Modelo commercials, is active in charities and rubs elbows with the likes of Robert Downey Jr.

“No one expected that from me,” Ortega said. “No one has ever seen that, no one ever expected it, from a media perspective. People who know me, they know me. They understand how I work and how I move. To the media, it’s always: I win, and I have positive things to say. But I’ve also said it in the media — none of these guys have ever tried to piss me off. I don’t have any reason to be mad. The guys I’m fighting are all respectful or they’re not talking s—. Why would I get mad at someone? I’m not gonna get mad unless you poke the bear. Understand? You poked the bear.

play

1:23

Brian Ortega describes the timeline of when he started to want more from his training camp and ulimately why he decided to make a change.

“You want to f—ing be a Chihuahua and walk around a pit bull and start barking loud, don’t be mad if they f—ing nip at you. There’s a reason why [fighters] walk in the room — you can be a celebrity, you can be anyone — when we walk in the room, there’s a certain sign of respect, because they know what we do. There’s no games involved, and it’s real blood, real sweat, real tears and real f—ing physical pain.”

Ortega grew up in San Pedro, California, the hard-scrabble Harbor area of Los Angeles. In a way, Gracie said, the slap was a bit of a reminder that Ortega didn’t have the easiest upbringing.

“There’s definitely a different code of human interaction that Brian was used to growing up,” Gracie said. “Which is why he doesn’t go there. Up until now in his career, we’ve known nothing like this of him. It’s just happy, smiling, super chill, loving his fans, super interactive. But when you provoke him, you get his past and to some degree the core of who he is — not by choice but by circumstances. When you trigger that, you deal with the consequences. There’s no doubt.

“You want Brian on your team. You don’t ever want Brian against you. Because if he’s on your team, he’ll die for you. And if he’s against you, there’s no limit. That’s what it is.”

Jung’s team, though, saw it differently.

“[Park] isn’t a fighter,” Cha said. “He’s a pop star, he’s a rapper. He’s a businessman. He’s 130-something pounds. It’s just a bully move. It’s like a reporter, if you translate something and a No. 3 fighter in the world goes and hits you, that’s some punk s—.”


On March 11, Ortega posted a more robust apology on Instagram, writing that “I now realize that what I did was wrong overall.” Jung accepted the apology in his own post and said he was also sorry.

“It’s not about Jay or anything else. [Jung is] just focused on Brian. He knows what’s at stake. He’s never once brought that up, used it as fuel or anything else. It’s already motivation enough to win when you get in the top five and there’s a potential title shot [on the line].” Eddie Cha
Chan Jung Sung’s Korean American coach

“I too, apologize for trash talking,” Jung wrote. “I thought my fans were enjoying it but what happened taught me to be more careful. Also, I realized this was not the person that I really am. We have only one more thing left between us and that is the fight. I will fight you and I will beat you, I really will.”

Ortega said he definitely has regrets about how things transpired.

“One hundred percent I wish it played out differently,” Ortega said. “I didn’t want this. I always try to have a good rep in the UFC. I always wanted a good name for myself, and I didn’t want to mess it up. I have a good record with the UFC and these guys. I’ve been doing good, I’ve been on good behavior.

“We all need reminders in life. ‘You’re acting this way, you’re doing that.’ That was just a reminder that I cannot act the way I used to act. Like, ‘Brian, you can’t just be going around and slapping people and doing s— like that and checking people.’ You’re getting to a spot where you’re being recognized. People look up to you whether you like it or not. You’re a role model to people, whether you like it or not.”

Jung and Park are also ready to move forward. Park declined to be interviewed for this piece and will not be in Abu Dhabi this week, Cha said, because he wants the focus to be on Jung.

“Now, it’s all business,” Cha said of Jung. “We’re focused on the fight. It’s not about Jay or anything else. [Jung is] just focused on Brian. He just wants to go out there and compete. He knows what’s at stake. He’s a professional. He’s never once brought that up, used it as fuel or anything else. It’s already motivation enough to win when you get in the top five and there’s a potential title shot [on the line].”

ESPN has Ortega ranked No. 3 and Jung at No. 8 in its featherweight rankings.

The stakes are very high, and the bad blood might be on the back burner, which is kind of ironic, considering the real violence is about to commence.

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
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Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

play

2:00

Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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