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In today's Sprint:
🏈  Another one
🏀  A first
⚽️  Fond farewell
Trivia: Who are the only two NFL teams to never have a 4,000 yard passer since the 16-game schedule began in 1978?
  1. Chicago Bears and New York Jets
  2. Cleveland Browns and New York Jets
  3. Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars
  4. Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL
Lucky Number 17
The NFL and the team owners got together and decided to enter a new phase in their relationship - the 17 game regular season is official.
Now, not even the Cowboys can go 8-8.
What are the players saying?
It’s a mixed bag:
  • “We really let this happen…” - Adrian Amos
  • “As a whole this is great but adjustments have to be made.” - Torrey Smith
Ultimately, though, the players agreed to the change when they voted to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Per the agreement, the owners could expand the schedule as soon as a new media rights deal was agreed to. That happened last week.
The strategy: After missing revenue estimates by $4 billion in 2020, the NFL decided to aggressively grow the game. The move from a 16 to 17 game schedule increases revenue in two major ways.
  1. Additional game-related sales from tickets, merch, media rights, etc
  2. International expansion
Roger Goodell said, “One of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.” The league mandated each team play at least one international game between 2022 and 2030.
Zoom out: Between streaming and international growth, the NFL has made its big bets clear for the next ten years.
Bonus: Roger Goodell announced he’s expecting full stadiums this fall.

AROUND THE LEAGUES
Tuned In
Bucking the trend of lower sports viewership during the pandemic, Sweet 16 viewership was up 13% from to 2019. A few possible explanations:
  • Great matchups and close games
  • Society returning to a semblance of ‘normalcy’
  • Schedule change
Most likely, the move to air the Sweet 16 on weekend primetime - instead of the usual Thursday, Friday slate - was the biggest factor leading to the improved numbers. The question now? What Elite 8 viewership looked like on a Monday and Tuesday night.
(30-0) #1 Gonzaga 85 vs. (25-8) #6 USC 66
  • Gonzaga dominated from the tip, crushing a USC team that had just blown out both Kansas and Oregon.
  • Referee Bert Smith collapsed early in the first half. He was in stable condition after the game.
(22-9) #11 UCLA 51 vs. (23-5) #1 Michigan 49
  • Johnny Juzang (28 pts, 2 reb) scored 18 of the Bruins’ 27 first half points and more than half of their total points, helping them become the second team to go from the First Four to the Final Four.
Fun fact: The Men’s Final Four includes no teams east of the Mississippi River...for the first time ever.
College Basketball - Women’s Elite 8
For the girls, UConn versus Baylor specifically, the numbers are in and they are high. Nearly two million tuned in to watch the Huskies beat the Bears on Monday night.
(25-4) #1 South Carolina 62 vs. (21-9) #6 Texas 34
  • The Gamecocks kept the Longhorns scoreless over the final 12:30 of the game to reach the Final Four.
(28-2) #1 Stanford 78 vs. (26-3) #2 Louisville 63
  • Stanford rode a 30 point fourth quarter to complete the come from behind win. The Cardinal rule, never give up.
NBA
(24-22) Charlotte Hornets 114 vs. (17-29) Washington Wizards 104
  • Charlotte has now won four of five since losing LaMelo Ball to a fractured wrist, despite another huge effort from Russel Westbrook (22 pts, 15 reb, 15 ast) and this massive dunk.
(28-18) Denver Nuggets 104 vs. (32-14) Philadelphia 76ers 95
  • Without MVP candidate Joel Embiid, the 76ers couldn’t handle the Nuggets new four-headed attack.
NHL
(15-8-9) Montreal Canadiens 4 vs. (22-14-1) Edmonton Oilers 0
  • Montreal secured a much needed win as they prepare for a brutal stretch, playing 24 games in 42 days to make up for a series of recent postponements.
(17-5-5) Chicago Blackhawks 2 vs. (23-8-3) Carolina Hurricanes 1
  • The Hurricanes, surging recently, missed the opportunity to jump into first place in the Central division with a win.

WEDNESDAY WATCHLIST
NBA
Dallas Mavericks (24-21) vs. Boston Celtics (23-24) - 7:30 ET on ESPN
Milwaukee Bucks (29-17) vs. LA Lakers (30-17) - 10:00 ET on ESPN
NHL
LA Kings (13-14-6) vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights (24-8-1) - 10:00 ET on NBCSN
Tennis - Miami Open
Quarterfinals: #2 Naomi Osaka vs. #23 Maria Sakkari - 1:00 PM ET
Quarterfinals: #1 Daniil Medvedev vs. #7 Roberto Bautista Agut - 8:30 ET

WATER COOLER TALK
⚽️  Sergio Aguero, Manchester City’s record goal scorer, is leaving the club this summer after a decade of highlights, including this 2012 EPL winning goal.
🏈  The 49ers went to Mac Jones’ pro day instead of Justin Fields’ after trading up to the #3 pick. But, after the performance Fields put on, they may make the other choice come draft night.
🏈  Bruce Arians, the Tampa Bay Bucs coach, followed through with his promise and got an interesting Super Bowl tattoo.
🏀  Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot, secured $305 million in funding at a $2.6 billion valuation. Kevin Durant, Stefon Diggs, and other athletes were part of the round.
🏀  The Utah Jazz plane made an emergency landing after hitting a flock of birds.

TRIVIA ANSWER
A. Ironically, both the Bears and Jets have quarterback questions heading into the 2021 offseason.
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