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HuskerOnline – Nebraska, Big Ten still navigating season COVID-19 protocols

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INDIANAPOLIS – After instituting strict league-wide policies for how to navigate a year of collegiate athletics through the COVID-10 pandemic, the Big Ten Conference is taking a more hands-off approach entering the fall seasons of 2021.

During his press conference at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday, commissioner Kevin Warren announced that the conference still had not finalized its COVID-19 protocols, with the opening football game between Nebraska and Illinois just 37 days away.

Warren said the Big Ten’s university chancellors and presidents voted in June to create “a decentralized process” to handle COVID issues, leaving much of that up to the schools to craft their policies and procedures.

The league expects to announce its final conference guidelines in early August, Warren said.

“One of the things I did learn last year is to make sure that we are methodical and thoughtful – that we bring people together,” Warren said. “And so we’re right where we want it to be.

“As soon as we gather all the information from our schools in early August, we’ll finalize our policies to make sure that we pressure-tested as much as we possibly can, and then we’ll make sure we release it to everyone in the media and in the public.”

It’s not just the Big Ten that is still trying to finalize its COVID-19 protocols. Each of the seven head coaches who spoke during Thursday’s Media Day had different answers about their respective programs in establishing their guidelines.

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost said the Huskers were still waiting to get more clarity from the conference regarding its policies and requirements before implementing their plan.

“We’re prepared, I think, to handle it if the conference tells us it’s going to be handled on each campus,” Frost said. “I know I’ve had conversations with that, and conversations are going on above my head about ways to handle things like that.

“We are doing the best we can to educate our guys about vaccinations and trying to let them understand that it’s safe. Vaccination gives us the best chance to have a football season that’s uninterrupted.”

Athletic director Trev Alberts said many of the COVID-19 decisions would be assisted by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, which would work side-by-side with NU’s administration.

“It’s really a collaborative effort,” Alberts said. “Ronnie Green, our chancellor, has policies on our campus that our policies have to fit within. All those collective assets will come together with the proper protocols in place.

“Then what we’re all going to do is we’re going to be submitting those to the Big Ten, which then they can aggregate those results and ultimately come up with some policies that will work for all of us.”

With COVID-19 numbers surging again throughout the country, other Power Five leagues have already announced detailed plans for managing the upcoming football season. In some cases, like in the Big 12 and SEC, teams that cannot play a game due to a COVID-19 outbreak would potentially have to forfeit rather than postpone to a later date.

“I don’t have an opinion on that, and I won’t,” Frost said when asked about the idea of forfeitures. “We fought hard for football last year because we thought it was the right thing. I’m really grateful to the people that helped make it happen so that we could get a chance to play last year.

“Where we landed last year was a good place. I thought the season came off well with the Big Ten and was managed well. We’re going to trust them to make those types of decisions.”

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Premier League: Headers in training to be limited

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New regulations are to be introduced that will limit the number of headers professional footballers practice in training per week.

Over the last few years, heading within football, especially among children, has become a hot topic.

A study conducted in 2019 found that footballers are more likely to suffer from degenerative brain diseases Dementia compared to people whose jump doesn’t involve frequently heading a ball.

In February of last year, the practice of heading in training sessions was banned for all children aged 11 or under in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at all levels.

What are the Premier League VAR changes for the 2021-22 season?Read More

Several high-profile former footballers such as Sir Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and Jeff Astle have all died within the last few years after suffering brain disease, with Charlton suffering from Dementia before his death.

In order to protect players, they will be limited to 10 ‘high force’ headers per week in training at ever level of English football including the Premier League.

“Our heading guidance now reaches across all players, at all levels of the game,” said FA chief executive Mark Bullingham.

“We are committed to further medical research to gain an understanding of any risks within football. In the meantime, this reduces a potential risk factor.

“It is important to remember that the overwhelming medical evidence is that football and other sports have positive impacts on both mental and physical health.”

What has the reaction been?

Former Arsenal, West Ham and England central defender Matthew Upson told Sky Sports he is in favour of the rule change.

“I 100% back the research and the studies that have gone into making this step,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes, researching the impact of heading the ball and it seems a very reasonable request if I’m honest.

“The key words are the ‘high impact’ contact. You can still practice heading, technically, as let’s be honest, heading is a real art – a matter of timing, technicality towards it.

“Those big ones when you’re heading from a goal kick or from a corner – it just makes sense in training not to expose yourself to that impact.

“Save it for opportunities in matches when three points are on the line. In training, it just makes perfect sense, so I fully welcome the change.”

Studies have shown that it can have an impact on your health

When asked whether he looks back on some training sessions in the past and worries about his own health, Upson admits he wouldn’t agree to them now.

“I sometimes cast my mind back to some of the sessions that I’ve done over the 20 years as a professional footballer, and looking back, you wouldn’t entertain a training session like that,” he continued.

“You wouldn’t head a number of large balls into the box. When as an apprentice practicing those big, headed clearances and getting your head on kicks from the halfway line.

“There isn’t really a need to practice that in mass numbers. Studies have shown that it can have an impact on your health.”

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Boston Bruins among 4 free agent destinations for Ryan Getzlaf

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The Boston Bruins are looking to bring in a veteran center for their next playoff push and Ryan Getzlaf is one of the leading options.

NHL Free Agency opened on Wednesday and has already kicked into full gear with signings and rumors flying in. The latest comes from TSN’s Pierre Lebrun as the Boston Bruins are one of the top destinations for Ryan Getzlaf if he leaves the Anaheim Ducks for the first time in his 16 year career.

The Bruins join the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens among the potential destinations.

The move makes a lot of sense for the Bruins, who are still looking to get another Stanley Cup with their main core before the window closes. A potential Bruins-Getzlaf signing feels reminiscent of when Boston brought in David Backes during the 2016 offseason. While that partnership didn’t ultimately work out for either side, it did give them another center and more leadership for the team.

What could Ryan Getzlaf bring to the Boston Bruins?

Getzlaf is an interesting addition for anyone this offseason. The 37-year-old is far from his prime anymore and had the worst statistical season of his career during the 2020-21 season. In 48 games, Getzlaf totaled career lows in goals, assists, and points with 5-12-17. To be fair to him, however, the Ducks were terrible this season. The only team to finish worse than them was the Buffalo Sabres.

A better assumption of what Getzlaf could bring to the table this season would be to look back at the 2019-20 season. He totaled 13 goals and 29 assists, good for 42 points overall. Seeing that the Bruins are looking for secondary scoring and overall solid play from their third and fourth lines, Getzlaf feels like the perfect fit for them this season and maybe even beyond.

The former Stanley Cup champion could channel his former linemate, Corey Perry, by leaving the Ducks as Perry has found success and has made it to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals. Seems like a good fit if the Bruins and Getzlaf can come together on a deal.

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2021 FFA Cup preview: Is Adelaide City primed for an upset?

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In less than a months’ time, the 2021 FFA cup Round of 32 off kicks off including a qualifier between A-League clubs Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, with the winner of that match to travel to South Australia for a potential banana skin of a fixture against Adelaide City. (more…)

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