Justin Williams is a professional American cyclist, a celebrated national champion and a standout for another reason he wishes were not so: He is one of the few Black racers in the sport.
Now, he is bent on changing that.
After setbacks and a long journey through professional cycling, Williams formed his own team of professional riders in Los Angeles in 2019 with his younger brother Cory. The team, called L39ION (pronounced legion), has 14 riders, including 10 professionals, who race the full gamut of events — criteriums, road, gravel and cross.
“L39ION doesn’t force riders to conform to white norms,” or the expectations of what professional cyclists should look, act, or sound like, Williams said. He brought old rivals, former teammates and friends together to form the Los Angeles-based team, a roster that includes Black, Latino, Pacific Islander and white cyclists. “We wanted to win races while making the sport inclusive.”
This month, L39ION announced plans to form a squad that will compete in one of three tiers of racing overseen by the U.C.I., the governing body of cycling.
Williams said he aims to bring diversity to a sport in which few Black riders have cracked through. He is leading a new generation of bike racing that’s a far cry from the long tenured traditions of the Tour de France, circuits that have historically been filled with predominantly white, European athletes.
“I’ve been fighting all my life, why would I stop now?” said Williams, 31.
As one of the most successful riders in the country, Williams focuses on criteriums, or crits, which are short road races often looping around a city or neighborhood.
Getting to where he is today wasn’t easy. Williams charted a winding career path, one in which he repeatedly refused to conform to the mores in professional cycling.
ImageCredit…John W. Rutland
Williams, who is from South Los Angeles, got his first bike when he was 13, learning to ride from his father, Calman, an amateur racer. Biking was one of his few escapes from a rough neighborhood.
“I remember it being unpredictable. A lot of gang members in the community and kids selling drugs on the street,” Williams said. “Other than our time riding bikes, my parents kept us inside, focused on studying. They didn’t trust us to go out, which feels justified now. You could easily be caught in the wrong place and end up dead or in jail. I remember bullet holes in our street sign. I don’t know what I would have done without a bike.”
Near the end of high school, Williams’ cycling career started to take form. He focused on road racing, eyeing iconic European stage races with a dream of becoming the next Lance Armstrong. “But it was different for me,” he said.
“I was isolated, didn’t have support, and everything felt foreign,” Williams said. “Trying to develop as a young man and an athlete was impossible. It was so far from how I grew up.”
The numbers are stark. Only five of the 743 riders on cycling’s elite World Tour are Black. None of the 113 professional riders licensed by U.S.A. Cycling are Black. (In 2020, L39ION was not licensed by U.S.A. Cycling.) This year, there was one lone Black athlete, the French cyclist Kévin Reza, out of 176 riders on the start line of the Tour de France.
Williams got his start as an amateur at local crits, and in 2006, won the Junior Track National Championship.
Despite his promise in the closed circuit race scene, Williams continued to dabble in a mix of disciplines from time trials to multiday stage races, an anomaly for most riders who tend to specialize in one event.
With his race results improving, Williams moved to Europe in 2009, following the template for talented, young riders who dream of being the next great American cyclist. But even with moderate success, Williams frequently felt ostracized. “In Europe I was called ‘difficult,’” Williams said. “They called me a charity case and stereotyped me as an angry Black man.”
“I was written off faster than other riders and watched a lot of guys get on teams that never won a race. As a Black man from the ’hood, I was typecast before managers even got to know me,” he continued.
ImageCredit…Stephen Osman/Los Angeles Times, via Getty Images
Williams returned to the U.S. in 2010 after spending a year abroad, putting his cycling ambitions on the back burner to study graphic design at Moorpark College near Los Angeles. He would race again when he was ready, he figured.
When that day came in 2016, he exploded back on the scene as part of the Cylance Pro Cycling team, winning 15 races at the highest echelon of the sport in both road races and crits.
Despite his meteoric rise, Williams found himself frustrated with contracts that paid a minimum wage and did not allow for him to have any real say in his race calender or roles within the team. “I wanted a voice that wasn’t moderated,” he said. Without a predictable salary, he gambled on his own training, hoping it would pay off in prize money. He went on to win back-to-back national championships in 2018 and 2019, a feat that few have accomplished.
Williams believes the lack of diversity in cycling, and inaction, starts at the top, with team managers, race organizers, and cycling power brokers at the wheel. “Not one has spoken up about the racial justice movement because they don’t have to,” Williams said.
With L39ION serving as a bellwether, that may be beginning to change.
In April, Saint Augustine University became the first historically Black college to add a cycling team. The EF Pro Cycling team, a Colorado based team known for their pink jerseys and sustained success on the World Tour, recently started two cycling programs at H.B.C.U. and Tribal Colleges and Universities with support from Cannondale and U.S.A. Cycling.
“We took a hard look in the mirror and asked ourselves what type of role we would play in making change,” said Dennis Kim, global vice president for marketing at Cannondale, referring to the wave of social action spurred by the killing of George Floyd.
“We looked at everything from supporting youth teams to feeder teams to the World Tour, but after conversations with EF and U.S.A. Cycling, we decided working with H.B.C.U.s would create more impact. It would be amazing if this program one day created an Olympic champion, but a better sign of success is a graduate of the program returning to their community and starting their own team.”
On a similar timeline, two organizations have sprung up in the wake of social justice protests around the world. Bike Rides for Black Lives organizes mass rides around the country and Ride for Racial Justice creates access to cycling resources and education.
“We want everyone to feel safe on a bicycle. The fact of the matter is, that many don’t” said Massimo Alpian, a board member of Ride for Racial Justice. “Change only happens if we work grass roots with communities and top-down with brands and local governments. To make cycling more inclusive we must change social norms, offer education, and create more representation.”
The movements echo the work Williams has led with L39ION. The team has a partnership with Outride, a nonprofit that aims to get children on bikes through school programs and supports young cyclists who can’t afford travel costs or entrance fees to races around the country.
But there’s more to be done, Williams said. “As a kid, cycling freed me from so many things. It connected me with people from all walks of life and helped me grow,” he said.
“In terms of impact, we’re not making nearly enough, honestly. We’re not reaching the level we want yet.”
If she could travel back in time, before she was suspended from gymnastics after being accused of berating and mistreating her athletes, including an Olympic champion, Maggie Haney says she would change the way she coached.
She wouldn’t push some of her young gymnasts to redo a routine again and again after even the tiniest mistakes. To demand their focus, she wouldn’t yell at them. Instead she would learn to let some imperfections slide.
“I think my mistakes were that I cared too much, and wanted them to be a little too perfect every day, when maybe that’s not possible,” Haney, one of the most prominent coaches in the sport, said this month in an interview with The New York Times, the first time she has spoken publicly in nearly a year. “Maybe what used to be OK is not OK anymore, and maybe it shouldn’t be. I think maybe the culture has shifted.”
Haney has not coached at her gym in central New Jersey or anywhere else since February, she said, when U.S.A. Gymnastics, the sport’s national federation, temporarily suspended her before later barring her from coaching for eight years for what it called her “severe aggressive behavior” toward her athletes. She said she hasn’t even coached her own daughter, who is 11.
The athletes who have trained under Haney include Laurie Hernandez, who won a silver medal on the balance beam at the 2016 Olympics and helped the United States win the team gold medal.
Hernandez’s complaint to the federation was one of nearly a dozen that led to Haney’s ban, which she is appealing to an arbitrator. It was considered the harshest penalty for emotional and verbal abuse in the sport’s recent history.
The suspension was also viewed as a warning that coaches could now face stiff penalties for the mental and nonsexual abuse that was long accepted in the sport before the Lawrence G. Nassar sexual abuse scandal shed light on the toxic culture in gymnastics. Nassar was the longtime United States national team doctor who in 2018 was sentenced to prison for molesting more than 200 girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
Haney said the accusations against her — particularly those from Hernandez, whom she coached from age 6 — had come out of nowhere, and she vehemently denied them. More than 30 gymnasts at MG Elite, Haney’s gym in Morganville, N.J., and their families continue to support her and are awaiting her return to the sport, she said. Some have voiced their support for Haney in a YouTube video compiled by the public-relations firm she hired to help restore her reputation.
Haney, 42, said she was convinced that U.S.A. Gymnastics had used her as a scapegoat after its missteps in the Nassar case, in which the organization failed to protect its gymnasts from a sexual predator. The federation needed to do “something bold, something dramatic,” she said, to prove to the public that it cares about its athletes.
“I’ve dedicated my whole life to this,” Haney said, her voice beginning to waver. “To be out of the gym has been really hard. I feel like it was unfairly taken away from me.”
Haney’s accusers have not wavered. They say the ban is warranted, and some even wanted a permanent one. They claim that she bullied her gymnasts, publicly shamed them about their weight, encouraged eating disorders and forced them to train with injuries.
Hernandez, who is now training in California for the Tokyo Olympics next summer, told The Times in April that Haney’s treatment of her was “just so twisted that I thought it couldn’t be real.” She said the abuse included Haney calling her weak, lazy and messed up in the head and that the emotional abuse led to a continuing battle with depression.
ImageCredit…Charles Mostoller for The New York Times
Riley McCusker, who has a good chance of making the United States team for the Tokyo Games, filed a lawsuit against Haney last month. Among the accusations in the complaint was that Haney had forced McCusker to train through injuries, including while she had a painful, potentially serious medical condition called rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of muscle tissue that can happen from overexertion.
In a separate lawsuit filed last month, another gymnast, Emily Liszewski, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, accused Haney and an assistant coach of forcing her to perform an advanced skill on the uneven bars at the Arena Gym, a gym not far from MG Elite, and it led her to fall and hit her head. Liszewski was unconscious for three days, with multiple skull fractures, and had seizures because of the injury, the lawsuit said. The suit also claimed that Haney once picked Liszewski up from the floor by her hair after the gymnast had fallen.
“These situations are not at all the way I recall them,” Haney said, adding that Hernandez’s mother and McCusker’s mother were often in the gym — sometimes on the training floor — but never expressed displeasure over her demanding coaching style. (Neither mother returned a request made through a representative to comment for this article.)
Haney added: “I just think when money gets involved, people will say and do different things. I think a lot of this is about money.”
The arbitrator’s ruling on Haney’s appeal is expected in the coming days, said one of her lawyers, Steven Altman. He said he hoped that Haney’s suspension would be rescinded because U.S.A. Gymnastics’s hearing for the case had been biased and flawed, and “as a practical matter, a kangaroo court.” Seven of Haney’s accusers were not even coached by her, Altman said, and the gym offered a fun environment amid the intense training that is generally needed to master the sport’s daring moves.
“When they were doing gymnastics, it was serious,” Altman said. “They worked on life-threatening skills for hours a day.”
U.S.A. Gymnastics, in an emailed statement, said on Sunday that Haney’s hearing was “both fair and impartial, and adhered to the requirements” of the organization’s procedures, as well as the law that oversees Olympic sports in the United States.
Haney conceded she could be intense in the gym. But she said that most of the time “everybody is smiling and laughing and music is playing.” She carefully crafted the atmosphere at the gym, she said, knowing that parents had entrusted her with their children, at times from morning until evening. The program, Haney said, included closely monitored online learning, a certified teacher holding classes during the day and an emphasis on safety.
As a young gymnast herself, training in an elite program for a while, Haney worked with harsh coaches who screamed at the girls, she recalled, and had them step onto a scale daily, then listed everyone’s weight on a bulletin board in the gym. To make the girls lose weight, the coaches forced them to wear rubber suits or 20-pound belts and jog around the gym, she said.
“It didn’t faze me and didn’t bother me, but that kid next to me, it could’ve really bothered and scared them,” she said, adding that she never weighed her gymnasts or forced them to lose weight. “I think what I’ve learned over the last year is that so much of this comes down to perspective. Every person. Every athlete. Every coach. They have their own perspective of things.”
Some of the families whose children continue to train at MG Elite were drawn to her gym because of what they described as an exacting nature.
Henry Rivera, an engineer at a software company, moved his 12-year-old daughter to MG Elite last year so she could train with Haney. He said she had left her previous gym because her routines were getting sloppy and the coach there was pushing her to perform skills she didn’t feel prepared to do.
Rivera said he appreciated that Haney had made the gym a safe space for his daughter, yet never babied her.
“If I wanted her to come home happy and smiling every day, I’d send her to clown school; I’m serious,” Rivera said. “If my daughter has goals and her goal is to be an elite athlete, I need a coach to teach her the right things and safely, and to push them.”
Rivera said if Haney ever was abusive to his daughter, he would have noticed because he monitors what she is going through “emotionally, mentally and physically,” considering it his job as a parent.
“As parents, we need to be vigilant,” he said. “And if you don’t like it, get up and leave.”
In a telephone interview with her parents standing by, his daughter, Hezly, said Haney just wanted her gymnasts to be the best and was tough on them, “but not like to the point where it was horrible.” She said that she was sad to see Haney go and that she missed her.
“She never crossed the line,’’ she said.
Another parent at the gym, Charisse Dash, is a sports agent who recruits athletes from the Dominican Republic to play in Major League Baseball. Her 10-year-old daughter has worked with Haney since she was 6.
“You’re not there to play, you’re there to work,” Dash said, describing that type of gymnastics as “a 9-to-5 job.”
She added: “Do I classify the rigor of the training as abuse? I think you really have to see it on a case-by-case basis.”
Dash said she and her husband ran “a very tight ship” at home with their five children, where screaming, not coddling, was common. So, to them, Haney’s demanding style was a great fit.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that Maggie is an abuser, by all means,” Dash said. “It depends on how much any child or any person can tolerate.”
Haney’s U.S.A. Gymnastics hearing in February and March was held by telephone, and Haney listened to weeks of it while huddled in a closet so her two children would not interrupt her. About a half-dozen parents testified in support of her, but not all of the parents who wanted to testify were given the chance to, she said. Even when Haney herself testified, she said, she felt that her side of the story didn’t matter. She was sure the three-person hearing panel had already made up its mind.
Some of the gymnasts who accused her of abuse, she said, had been asked to leave the gym because they could not physically keep up. The part she remembers as the worst, though, was sitting through Hernandez’s live testimony. Haney considered their relationship strong, so it was inconceivable to her that Hernandez felt mistreated.
Hernandez often slept at Haney’s house and was considered a part of the family, Haney said. Haney took Hernandez to the beach, to restaurants, to get her nails done, and gave her a tuition break at the gym. When she and Hernandez returned from the 2016 Olympics, Haney said, she helped organize a parade in her town, in Hernandez’s honor.
When Hernandez was competing on the television show “Dancing With the Stars” soon after the Rio Games, Haney said, she spoke to her one night for three hours. The coach remembered their talking like old friends, about makeup and music and how Haney, with her perfectionist’s eye, noticed that Hernandez’s foot had slipped during an earlier dance, but that she had covered the mistake well. Haney recalled telling Hernandez to enjoy her break from gymnastics.
ImageCredit…Tim Clayton/Corbis, via Getty Images
“You’re a star now,” Haney said she told her.
Within days, Laurie Hernandez’s mother, Wanda, called Haney to say that they were cutting all ties. Though Wanda Hernandez told The Times in April that she had severed the relationship after learning that Haney had mistreated her daughter, Haney said she was blindsided by the move and now thinks it was financially motivated because the Hernandezes first offered her a cut of Laurie’s income after the Olympics, but then did not follow through.
“For me, it was never about the money,” Haney said. “I just remember being so confused and not understanding any of it.”
Neither Wanda nor Laurie Hernandez responded to interview requests made through Laurie’s agent, Sheryl Shade.
The situation left Haney wondering what she had done wrong. She said she had been protective of her gymnasts, even when it came to food, as she watched other coaches at meets hover over the meal table to control their athletes’ consumption.
“My kids were never the ones stuffing bread into their pockets,” she said, describing how some athletes felt compelled to sneak food back to their rooms.
She said she encouraged her gymnasts to make smart choices, though McCusker’s lawsuit said Haney promoted unhealthy eating and weight-loss habits.
Haney acknowledged that there had recently been a change in how some gymnasts expected to be treated by their coaches, especially since this summer, when hundreds of them worldwide began speaking out about the abuse they endured from tyrannical coaches.
Many coaches, Haney said, now don’t know when they might cross the line or upset an especially sensitive child or parent, so they “are just letting the girls do whatever because they don’t want to get in trouble.”
The culture has shifted perhaps too far, she said, and she expects the sport, going forward, to be filled with underachievers. She said she thinks coaches will not push their athletes as hard.
Haney blames parents for that. They have become too invested in their daughters’ success, she said, and now are emboldened to lash out at anyone — and potentially crush anyone — who stands in their daughters’ way.
“I feel that somebody needs to stand up for coaches,” Haney said. “If I don’t stand up and fight for the truth, then other coaches aren’t going to, either. I know if this can happen to me, I think it can happen to anyone.”
CINCINNATI — After the Giants lost their starting quarterback, they held off a late rally by the Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati Bengals.
Daniel Jones went out with a hamstring injury in the second half of the Giants’ 19-17 win on Sunday. The team’s third straight victory moved the Giants (4-7) into a first-place tie with the Washington Football Team in the woeful N.F.C. East, and comes after they lost the first five under first-year head coach Joe Judge.
It remains to be seen when or if Jones will back for next Sunday’s meeting with the Seattle Seahawks. He is scheduled to have a magnetic resonance imaging test on Monday.
“I won’t say I’m optimistic at this point right now,” Judge said after the game. “No, I don’t want to go ahead and say yea or nay because I don’t have the medical information. You know, I’m sure he’s going to try everything he can.”
Jones went down after completing a short pass in the third quarter with the game tied, 10-10. He returned for two plays on the next series but then was relieved by backup Colt McCoy.
“I’m certainly not discouraged,” Jones said. “You know, I think it’s tough to tell exactly what it is right now.”
Running back Wayne Gallman ran for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter, giving him a touchdown in five consecutive games, the longest such streak for the Giants since Saquon Barkley scored in five straight games in 2018. Gallman, who secured the starting job after Barkley and Devonta Freeman went out with injuries, scored three total touchdowns in his first three seasons. He finished with 24 carries for 94 yards against Cincinnati.
ImageCredit…Joseph Maiorana/USA Today Sports, via Reuters
Brandon Allen, who was promoted from the practice squad, started at quarterback for the Bengals (2-8-1) in place of the dynamic Burrow, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week’s loss to Washington.
Allen couldn’t keep the Bengals moving. He was 17-for-29 for 136 yards, and Cincinnati mustered just 155 total yards of offense. It wasn’t all his fault: Passes were dropped, and with Joe Mixon on injured reserve, the Giants didn’t have to worry about a Cincinnati running game. The Bengals went three-and-out four times and killed drives by fumbling twice.
Nonetheless, the Bengals had a chance late. A one-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Tee Higgins — set up by a pass-interference penalty in the end zone — got the team within two points with 2:33 remaining.
Cincinnati got the ball back, but Allen fumbled while being sacked with 57 seconds left to seal it for the Giants.
“We never got our rhythm, our first-down efficiency is really where it got us,” Cincinnati Coach Zac Taylor said. “We were in a lot of second-and-8s, second-and-9s, second-and-10 it felt like, and that’s not a great recipe against that defense.”
One of the few Bengals highlights came in the first quarter after Gallman scored, set up by a 53-yard pass from Jones to Evan Engram. On the ensuing kickoff, Brandon Wilson took the ball from three yards deep in the end zone, found a seam in the middle and rumbled for a 103-yard touchdown, the longest in franchise history.
Before he departed with the injury, Jones was 16-for-27 for 213 yards. Engram caught six passes for 129 yards.
“I don’t think you can compare this year to any other year,” Judge said. “However, I am proud of our players, of the way our players are working. I’m proud of the improvement they’ve made. I’m proud of how they come to work every day.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes while starting in place of the injured Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins beat the Jets, 20-3, on Sunday.
Tagovailoa was inactive with an injured thumb on his throwing hand, so Fitzpatrick, 38, stepped in against one of his many former teams.
He didn’t need to do too much against the lowly Jets (0-11).
Fitzpatrick was 24 of 39 for 257 yards with touchdown throws to tight ends Mike Gesicki and Adam Shaheen, helping the Dolphins (7-4) bounce back after having their five-game winning streak ended last week.
The Jets got their starting quarterback back, as Sam Darnold played after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury. But he could not get much going for the offense, with Coach Adam Gase appearing to reclaim play-calling duties after Dowell Loggains, the offensive coordinator, had them for the last three games.
Darnold was intercepted twice and the Jets twice couldn’t take advantage of takeaways by their defense. Darnold was 16 of 27 for 197 yards.
The Jets’ latest poor offensive showing had speculation swirling again over whether the team could part ways with Gase, whose Jets were outscored 44-3 in two losses this season to Miami, his former team. The 11-game skid is the second-longest in team history, one game short of the losing streak by the 1995-96 teams under Rich Kotite.
After Miami went three-and-out to open the second half, the Jets moved the ball down the field — thanks to an impressive 27-yard grab by Breshad Perriman. But Darnold tried to make too much happen on third down at the Dolphins’ 32, throwing across his body on the run into double coverage, and Nik Needham made an easy interception.
The Jets didn’t muster much the rest of the way — although they had some chances.
The Dolphins began chewing up clock late in the third quarter by focusing on the run, but it cost them when Quinnen Williams popped the ball out of Matt Breida’s hands and Harvey Langi recovered to give the Jets the ball at Miami’s 45 with four minutes, nine seconds remaining.
But the Jets couldn’t do anything with the takeaway, going three and out.
The Jets’ defense came up big again on the Dolphins’ next drive, with Jordan Jenkins knocking the ball out of Patrick Laird’s hands and Neville Hewitt scooping it up and returning it to Miami’s 26.
But again, the offense stalled. The Jets went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 17, but Frank Gore was stuffed by Elandon Roberts for a 1-yard loss.
Fitzpatrick drove the Dolphins down the field and sealed the win with a 7-yard touchdown toss to Shaheen to make it 20-3 with 6:54 left.
Gesicki had given the Dolphins a 10-3 lead with 8:56 left in the first half when Fitzpatrick threw a fade into the right corner of the end zone. Gesicki, at 6 feet, 6 inches, used his height advantage over the 6-foot-1 rookie safety Ashtyn Davis to grab the touchdown.
The drive was prolonged by a disputed call when DeVante Parker was credited with a 19-yard catch despite not appearing to ever fully control the ball before Javelin Guidry knocked it out of his hands. Gase challenged the call — and television replays seemed to support the Jets’ argument — but it was upheld and the Dolphins scored four plays later.
The Dolphins will host the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday, while the Jets will remain at home for the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
The authorities searched the home and offices of Diego Maradona’s personal doctor on Sunday as part of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the soccer star’s death last week.
Prosecutors requested a search warrant for the doctor, Leopoldo Luque, after collecting evidence and interviewing Mr. Maradona’s relatives, according to a statement by the prosecutor’s office in San Isidro, Buenos Aires Province. The statement did not provide more details.
It was the latest soap-operatic turn since Mr. Maradona, 60, died on Wednesday, plunging Argentina into three days of national mourning. Widely perceived as one of the game’s best players, Mr. Maradona had a rags-to-riches story which took him from a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires to global celebrity and which resonated with many Argentines.
Tens of thousands gathered in lines that were 20 blocks deep on Thursday to pay their last respects as Mr. Maradona’s body lay in state at the presidential palace.
Representatives said Mr. Maradona had died from a heart attack at his home in Tigre, north of Buenos Aires. The star had been plagued with medical problems and underwent brain surgery this month.
ImageCredit…Juan Mabromata/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
But for many his death remained a surprise, and theories, scandals and suspicions of foul play began emerging afterward.
An ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, Matias Morla, a lawyer for Mr. Maradona, said Thursday, calling it “criminal idiocy” and adding that he would request an investigation into the death. Prosecutors have disputed that timeline and said the ambulance arrived in 12 minutes.
Another former doctor for Mr. Maradona, Alfredo Cahe, called his death “unusual,” adding that a doctor should have been stationed in his room and that Mr. Maradona should have stayed in the hospital after his operation.
More intrigue built after sources told the media that a nurse who wrote in a report that she checked on Mr. Maradona the morning of his death did not actually do so.
The searches of Dr. Luque’s home and offices were carried out early Sunday after Mr. Maradona’s daughters asked for a review of medications prescribed by Dr. Luque and his team, according to the newspaper Clarín.
Mr. Maradona was famous for leading Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, scoring an iconic goal in a quarterfinal against England. But beyond his sporting accomplishments, he was known for his leftist politics and his honesty over his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction.
Isabella Kwai reported from London. Mark Walsh contributed reporting from London, and Daniel Politi from Buenos Aires.
During the three years Jamie Andries spent as a member of the University of Oklahoma cheerleading team, she cheered at two Big 12 championship football games, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Rose Bowl and the 2016 Final Four.
And while the star football and basketball players in those games — including the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield and the future N.B.A. guard Buddy Hield — were forbidden to make money from their athletic fame beyond what the university provided to cover their attendance, Andries was receiving thousands of dollars through sponsorship deals with Crocs, L’Oréal, American Eagle and Lokai.
“Coming to OU for college was a big milestone for me but it has given me so many amazing opportunities like being able to cheer for the Sooners,” Andries said in an Instagram post in February 2016 that shows her wearing her cheer uniform and holding up her left wrist to display two Lokai bracelets. “This month I support @livelokai and the Alzheimer’s Association.”
The lucrative opportunities for Andries came because of her fame and a social media following in the cheerleading world — she is one of the top “cheerlebrities,” as such stars are known — and because the N.C.A.A. and its universities do not regulate cheerleading in the same ways they do other sports.
Long-held rules governing amateurism among college athletes do not apply to cheerleaders, meaning they can sell autographs, appear in commercials and wear their cheer uniforms while promoting products as social influencers, without fear of being disciplined. In sports governed by the N.C.A.A., athletes risk their eligibility to compete if they engage in similar activities, and their teams and universities can also be punished.
In 2011, for example, a scandal erupted at Ohio State when several football players sold awards, bowl-game memorabilia and other Buckeyes swag to the owner of a tattoo parlor, resulting in the resignation of the team’s coach, a skipped postseason and the loss of nine scholarships for the program.
The rules have also challenged some superstars to choose between college sports and the commercial markets. Simone Biles, the Olympic gymnastics champion, gave up a scholarship offer from U.C.L.A. when the financial reality of turning pro made participating in college sports seem like too much of a sacrifice.
The N.C.A.A. has long fought attempts to loosen its rules, but is now on a path toward allowing athletes to earn money from some endorsements, including through social media deals. The shift followed pressure from legislation in California and several other states, enacted by lawmakers who said the N.C.A.A.’s stance was no longer tenable given the significant growth of college sports as a moneymaking enterprise.
New rules are expected to be adopted by January and to take effect at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, creating a new market.
Andries said in an interview that she understands why the current restrictions for college athletes exist, but thinks that the rules can be changed in a way that is still palatable to universities — even if the athletes ultimately don’t get as much latitude as cheerleaders.
“I do think it’s a good way for players to benefit themselves and help other brands grow,” Andries said.
VideoTexas Tech cheerleaders executed a full-up while working on their partner stunts during practice.CreditCredit…By Ilana Panich-Linsman
Since its inception in the late 19th century, cheerleading has evolved from yelling encouragement on the sidelines to a competitive hybrid of gymnastics, dance and acrobatics. Advanced tumbling skills and the ability — plus courage — to perform gravity-defying stunts are the norm at the collegiate level, where top cheerleaders can reach a level of fame akin to that of star quarterbacks, especially on Instagram.
The most popular cheerleaders draw crowds seeking autographs and pictures at cheer competitions, and develop large followings through impressive tumbling, high-flying basket tosses or displays of extreme flexibility.
In the early 2010s, Andries became one of the first cheerleaders to achieve social media stardom, building her following while competing with a club team in high school. Her first deals were with small companies that peddled cheerleading gear, including one that sold hair bows that she designed and autographed. She now has 429,000 followers on Instagram, and her account has been verified for the past five years.
As Andries’s follower count grew, so did the deals. She has been in partnerships with Nissan, Amazon, FabFitFun, Colgate, SmileDirectClub and Urban Decay.
Andries said that her coaches in college had no problem with her promoting products while wearing her cheer uniform; their main rule was that she wasn’t allowed to miss practice for outside appearances.
“Their only concern was anything that would affect the team,” she said.
Mackenzie Sherburn and Shannon Woolsey, who are now at Texas Tech, were featured in the Netflix documentary series “Cheer” while they were teammates at Navarro College, a Texas junior college. They were able to turn that buzz into financial gain, unlike the college football players who gained fame while appearing in another Netflix documentary series, “Last Chance U.”
VideoMembers of the team warmed up their back-handsprings.CreditCredit…By Ilana Panich-Linsman
Woolsey, who has a verified Instagram account with 255,000 followers, has posted sponsored content for the apparel company Reebok, the study-aid website Course Hero and the cosmetics company Vanity Planet. She can earn more than $5,000 per post through deals with larger companies, and sometimes receives $200 to promote smaller boutiques.
“A lot of companies like stories of me sitting and talking about the product and making it seem like it’s not an ad,” Woolsey said.
Sherburn said that along with free apparel, the entire Texas Tech cheer team gets discounts from local salons for services like tanning and manicures. “We have to post about it and say, ‘Thank you for taking care of me,’ in return,” she said.
Woolsey and Sherburn said they did not consult their Texas Tech coaches about posting sponsored content because they saw no need to ask for permission.
“I don’t think they really care, because it’s such a big thing in the cheerleading world now,” Woolsey said.
Cheerleading does not qualify as a sport, at least not in the eyes of the N.C.A.A. and federal regulators, in part because some universities have tried to circumvent gender-equality rules by granting varsity status to cheer teams at the expense of conventionally competitive opportunities for women. Yet some cheer teams get perks from universities that are similar to those provided for other athletic programs.
Some universities offer meal plans, small scholarships, access to athlete housing, tutoring services, early class registration and waivers of out-of-state fees. Taryn Burke, a former cheerleader and current assistant coach at the University of Central Florida, said that the team there gets “access to the same exact things as any other sport would have” and awards scholarships based on a cheerleader’s skill level, grades and seniority.
Cheerleaders may also receive free or discounted products as a result of companies’ sponsoring their teams. Jessica Pak, a former U.C.L.A. cheerleader, recalls receiving Vera Bradley bags and NARS makeup through sponsorships that were specifically tied to the spirit squad. The sponsors expected the gifted products to be used by the cheerleaders during games and to be promoted on the spirit team’s social media account.
“I don’t really understand why that rule is a thing,” Pak said of the N.C.A.A.’s restrictions.
Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media marketing expert and the co-author of “The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users,” said brands have focused on college cheerleaders for two particular reasons: The cheerleaders can directly reach a target demographic (people in their late teens and early- to mid-20s), and they present an opportunity for companies to tap into the excitement of college sports without N.C.A.A. interference.
“The image of a cheerleader is kind of like Chevrolet and hot dogs and apple pie,” Fitzpatrick said.
High school cheerleaders are also cashing in, with no risk of voiding their eligibility to cheer in college. Ryan Cummings, a 16-year-old from North Carolina, gained fame and 437,000 Instagram followers after a GIF of her making a sassy expression during a cheer routine in 2018 became an internet meme. She gets money for posts on TikTok and, like other cheerleaders, sells autographed bows and has hired an agent to help her negotiate deals.
Her teammate, Kenley Pope, 15, has had Instagram partnerships with Casetify, Novashine, Ivory Ella and Crocs, which paid her $2,000 for posts. Pope’s mother and coach, Courtney Smith-Pope, helps her determine which products to promote.
Smith-Pope owns Cheer Extreme Athletics, a gym in Kernersville, N.C., that has produced multiple cheerlebrities over the years. She said she doesn’t need to dictate the endorsements her athletes accept. “These kids own their own talents and their own abilities,” she said, a sentiment shared by many coaches.
Universities are preparing to assert more influence in an expanded market for college athletes. Texas, Nebraska and Louisiana State have partnered with marketing agencies to perhaps help broker some deals for student-athletes once the rules change.
Woolsey and Andries independently hired agents while in college to help manage their endorsement deals, and Andries, now a social media manager for the apparel company Rebel Athletic, still makes extra income from deals related to her popularity from her cheer days.
She said she had realized in college that she got “the best of both worlds” at Oklahoma.
“I was like, ‘Wow I get to cheer and I get to have this sort of side job that I get to focus on,’” she said, “‘and I get to make some money that I can save up for myself to use after college.’”
It was nothing more, really, than a ruffle of the hair and a kiss on the cheek. There was no pomp or circumstance that day in 1994, no words of wisdom whispered in the ear or sweeping gesture made for the crowd. Diego Maradona left the field, and Ariel Ortega replaced him on it. But that was all it took. The torch, it was decided, had been passed.
Ortega was not the first player to be labeled the new Maradona. That honor, according to common consensus, fell to the former Boca Juniors forward Diego Latorre, and he certainly would not be the last. For a couple of decades, at least, a new pretender came to Maradona’s throne seemingly every year.
There would be short Maradonas and tall Maradonas, slender ones and squat ones, quick ones and slow ones. Sometimes the parallels were obvious: Pablo Aimar and Juan Román Riquelme and Andrés D’Alessandro played in the same position as him, in the same way as him, on the same team or bearing the same jersey number as him.
And sometimes they were not. There were new Maradonas who turned out to be jet-heeled wingers or elegant, deep-lying midfielders or languid target-men or elfin goal-poachers.
ImageCredit…Daniel Garcia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Often, Maradona himself would anoint his successor, though his favor was uncertain, shifting. For a while, it was Javier Saviola, though it pained Maradona to say it, “because he plays for River Plate,” the great rival of Maradona’s beloved Boca Juniors. A few years later, Maradona decreed that D’Alessandro was the “only player who amuses me.” He cast Carlos Tevez as “an Argentine prophet for the 21st century.”
Mostly, the new Maradonas were Argentines, though by no means exclusively. There were Maradonas all over the world, on every continent, in every mountain range. There was a Maradona of the Carpathians (Gheorghe Hagi), a Maradona of the Caucasus (Georgi Kinkladze), a Maradona of the Alps (Andi Herzog) and a Maradona of the Andes (Roberto Merino).
Some were given an entire country: Krishanu Dey was the Indian Maradona, Ali Karimi the Iranian version. Others had to share their territory. There have been, according to some lists, at least four Maradonas of the Balkans.
Some were given a much more precise geographical location. Fabrizio Miccoli was the Maradona of the Salento, the area in the south of Italy from which he hailed. Turkey’s Emre Belozoglu was the Maradona of the Bosporus. At one point, there was even a Maradona of Basingstoke, an unremarkable commuter town southwest of London, though that one, at least, was a knowing joke.
Some players leaned in to the comparison: Miccoli, a gifted but mercurial forward with Juventus, Fiorentina and Palermo, bought a pair of Maradona’s earrings at auction and would later acquire a tattoo of Che Guevara’s face, just like the one on his idol’s shoulder. Tevez acknowledged that he had based his style of play on his idol; they would go on to become close friends.
Others found the pressure implicit in the comparison suffocating. When Saviola signed with Barcelona in 2001, two decades after Maradona had done so, he was asked what he made of the parallels. “As I never tire of saying, there will not be another player like Maradona,” Saviola said. He was 19, and he already felt like he was repeating himself.
There were some who came close to living up to the name, in the same way as boarding a commercial flight is close, in some respects, to going to the moon. Aimar, Riquelme and Tevez enjoyed long and successful careers in which they played in World Cups, lifted league title trophies and defined their own legacies rather than being condemned to the coda of another player’s.
Hagi carried Romania to a World Cup quarterfinal and remains a symbol of his country’s soccer culture in the same way Maradona, more than anyone, represents Argentina’s. Dejan Savicevic, one of Maradona’s many Balkan apostles, became one of the finest players in Europe, an inspirational part of the great A.C. Milan teams of the early 1990s.
ImageCredit…Daniel Garcia/Agence France-Presse
Others never did quite enough to escape Maradona’s shadow, Ortega prime among them. Perhaps that was unavoidable: nobody, not even Riquelme and Tevez — the two players tasked, willingly or not, with living up to Maradona’s name at Boca Juniors — felt the white heat of expectation quite so much as the boy who took the field to replace him that day in Salta in 1994.
That game — a 2-1 win against Morocco — had been a warm-up for the World Cup set to start a few months later. At Argentina’s base that summer in Wellesley, Mass., Ortega shared a room with Maradona, the team captain. When Maradona was thrown out of the tournament after testing positive for ephedrine, Ortega would be tasked with replacing him for Argentina’s remaining games.
It made sense. Both were stronger than their stature would suggest. Both had a low center of gravity, almost flawless technique and a burst of acceleration that carried them past opponents. They even shared a passing physical resemblance, right down to the shock of raven-black hair.
Their similarities did not end there. Ortega had a flash of his mentor’s temper; one of the things Maradona most admired about him was his defiant, self-possessed, renegade streak. Ortega was sent off in a World Cup quarterfinal, and later punished with a worldwide transfer ban after walking out on his contract at the Turkish club Fenerbahce.
To an extent, too, his fate and Maradona’s were entwined. Ortega struggled with an alcohol addiction — Maradona himself would, at one point, advise that his old friend “needed help” — that first derailed and then curtailed his career. It is dangerous to psychoanalyze from a distance, but it is hard not to wonder if, perhaps, the torch he was passed that day in Salta was too hot for him, for anyone, to handle.
Argentina has not anointed a new Maradona for more than a decade now. The rest of the world has moved on, too. The quest to find an heir had grown too quixotic to be taken seriously by the middle of the last decade. When the tag was bestowed on Lionel Messi sometime around 2005, it no longer felt quite so onerous.
ImageCredit…Juan_Ignacio_Roncoroni/Pool, via Reuters
Messi did what none of his predecessors ever could: He managed not only to build his own career, to establish his own name, but to do so emphatically enough to dull the urge to compare. He neither embraced nor rejected the parallels with Maradona; he simply rendered them irrelevant.
Whether his greatness matches or exceeds Maradona’s will never be easily quantified. For all the similarities between them — small, left-footed, Argentine — the differences are stark. Messi does not possess Maradona’s penchant for self-destruction. Maradona never benefited from the rigorous professionalism of the game Messi has known.
Perhaps we will find out only with time. More than a decade elapsed between that moment in Salta, when Ortega stepped onto the field and Maradona walked off it, and the emergence of Messi. The search for Maradona’s heir had spanned every corner of the globe, every country, every mountain range.
Perhaps, then, we will know the scale of Messi’s greatness by the time it takes to find his successor. There is already a Thai Messi and an Indonesian Messi and a Japanese Messi. There is a new Messi every year in Argentina. And there will be, just as there was with Maradona, until someone who can be known by their own name comes along.
As any parent overseeing homeschool knows: Zoom P.E. is hardly a hard-driving Peloton class. It’s more like your kid lying on the floor of the living room doing halfhearted leg-lifts by the light of her laptop.
Many students, particularly tweens and teens, are not moving their bodies as much as they are supposed to be — during a pandemic or otherwise. (60 minutes per day for ages 6 to 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) A March 2020 report in The Lancet offers scientific evidence as to why your kids won’t get off the couch: As children move through adolescence, they indeed become more sedentary, which is associated with greater risk of depression by the age of 18. Being physically active is important for their physical health as well as mental health.
Yet with many organized team sports on hiatus and athletic fields, playgrounds and climbing gyms closed or restricted to smaller groups during shorter hours, what’s an increasingly lazy child to do? More accurately: What’s a mother or father of an increasingly lazy child to do?
Many parents are taking charge, finding informal and creative ways to entice their isolated tweens and teens off their screens and outside — with others, safely. To get your own younger ones moving, here are a few ideas from families around the country, all almost-guaranteed hits, even with winter coming.
A SENSE OF CAMARADERIE
Start a small running club.
In San Francisco, under rain, fog or blue skies (or even the infamous orange one), a group of sixth graders have been gathering in Golden Gate Park two times a week to run two miles. Their unofficial motto: “Safe Distance, Minimal Distance.” Masks are required and photo breaks are frequent, as is post-run ice cream. Started on a whim by local parents in late-August, the club has been such a hit, attracting anywhere from six to 20 kids each run, that some occasionally call for a third afternoon per week, even a 7 a.m. before-school meet-up (in which case they serve doughnuts). But treats are not the ultimate draw.
“I like the experience of being with my peers and actually doing something, all at the same time,” 11-year-old Henry Gersick said. “Instead of just sitting there.”
IT’S COOL ON TIKTOK
Jump! Jump! Jump!
One of the most accessible, inexpensive, socially distanced sports is something you may not even realize is a sport. Since the pandemic began, jump-roping has become “a TikTok craze,” according to Nick Woodard, a 14-time world-champion jump-roper and founder of Learnin’ the Ropes, a program designed to teach kids and adults the joy of jumping. “All you need is time, some space and a $5 jump rope, and you’re good to go,” Mr. Woodard said.
Based in Bowling Green, Ky., Mr. Woodard and his wife, Kaylee (a six-time world champion in her own right), have been leading virtual workshops for children as young as 6, from Malaysia to Germany. A 30-minute class costs $35 for one child, and includes spiderwalk warmups, instruction, and challenges. (How many jumps can you do in 30 seconds?)
“They have so much fun, they don’t even realize they’re getting exercise,” Ms. Woodard said. But a selling point right now is that jumping rope — unlike team sports — is something you can do together, apart.
A DOSE OF ADVENTURE
Take a hike with family and a friend.
“My kids are reluctant to do anything outdoors, unless we’re meeting up with another family, then they’re totally into it!” said Ginny Yurich, founder of 1000 Hours Outside, a family-run Instagram account with over 112,000 followers that challenges youth to spend an average of 2.7 hours a day outdoors per year. “Make sure you have food, a first-aid kit and friends — friends are the linchpin,” she said. (Masks, too.)
Ms. Yurich, a Michigan mother of five, drags her children on day hikes, yes, but also on evening lantern-lit hikes, rainy hikes and snowy walks. She was inspired, she said, by the 2017 book “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather,” by the Swedish-American author-blogger Linda McGurk, who espouses the Scandinavian concept of friluftsliv, or “open-air living.” For Ms. Yurich and Ms. McGurk, experiencing the outdoors is paramount to children’s development and well-being.
If you prefer not to pod during the pandemic, follow the lead of Dave Rubenstein, a father of two in Lawrence, Kan., by enacting “Forced Family Fun Time.”
“We call it F.F.F.T.,” Mr. Rubenstein said of the weekly activity. “It usually involves a hike around the lake in town, but it could be any outdoor activity teenagers typically hate. And if they complain, the punishment is more F.F.F.T.”
EXPERIENCING COMMUNITY — AND FREEDOM
Form a friendly neighborhood bike gang.
“Kids are biking like never before,” said Jon Solomon, a spokeman for the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, the nonprofit’s initiative to help build healthy communities through sports. Over the year, leisure bike sales grew 203 percent year over year, he said.
In one neighborhood in Denver, one neighbor has opened up a half-mile dirt bike track on his property to all the kids on the block. Wyatt Isgrig, 14, and his friends tackle it often by mountain bike, scooter or motorized dirt bike.
Ali Freedman, a mother of two in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood, has loved watching children of all ages on her street playing together. “Every day around 3:30 p.m., kids we never knew before Covid come biking by our house asking ‘Can you play?’” Ms. Freedman said.
The young crew all wear masks — “Moms have a text thread going to check on enforcement when masks become chin diapers,” said Ms. Freedman, who peers out the window every so often — and best of all: “They stay out until dinner.”
CREATING SOMETHING NEW, TOGETHER
Invent your own game.
In a September survey conducted by the Aspen Institute and Utah State University in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 71 percent of parents said “individual games” (like shooting baskets solo) were the form of sport with the highest comfort level for their kids, followed by classic neighborhood pickup games like basketball or tennis.
But inventing your own game has its own rewards. One otherwise boring day in suburban Maryland, Mr. Solomon and his son, 11, came up with something they call hock-ball. It involves a hockey stick and a tennis ball and an empty sidewalk or street.
Mr. Solomon attempted to explain. “You roll the tennis ball like a kickball — it could be smooth, or slow, or bouncy — and the person with the stick tries to hit it past the pitcher, then runs back and forth to home plate.” There are points and innings and it’s apparently fun for all ages. “Only problem is, the ball inevitably rolls under a parked car, ” Mr. Solomon said.
A (COLD) SURGE OF HOMETOWN PRIDE
Bundle up for snow yoga.
In Milwaukee, where daily high temperatures in winter often hover below freezing, Kendra Cheng said her seventh grader will be doing much of the same as she did over the summer, only wearing more clothes: kickball, trampoline tag or even “water-skiing on land” — which calls for two kids, a broken hammer, a rope, and Rollerblades (or cross-country skis).
But the hot new thing in Ms. Cheng’s neighborhood, she said, will be snow yoga, led by a certified yogi friend. Once it starts snowing, 10 to 20 people will gather twice a week at a safe distance in a private backyard with a backdrop of Lake Michigan. “In Wisconsin, we love the cold,” Ms. Cheng said. “We love snowpants. We love barely being able to move because we have five layers on. And we’re all excited to do downward dog outdoors to create our sweat.”
If all else fails, bribe them.
Pay your kid — a dollar, a quarter, a penny — per minute to walk the pandemic puppy you just got.
“It gets them out of the house and out of my hair — and they earn some money,” said Murray Isgrig, parent of Wyatt in Denver. “Even though they don’t have anywhere to spend it.”
Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play during a regular-season game in one of college football’s Power 5 conferences by booting a kickoff on Saturday for Vanderbilt to start the second half against Missouri.
Fuller, a senior and the starting goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, was tapped to play football this week after every member of the Commodores’ kicking squad was forced to stop practicing when at least one of them came into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Fuller wore the No. 32 — the same number she wears on her soccer jersey — and a helmet with the phrase “Play Like a Girl.”
“Let’s make history,” she posted on Twitter on Friday night.
CHANGING THE GAME 👏
Sarah Fuller just became the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game. @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/Qq3U6jtica
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 28, 2020
Fuller helped Vanderbilt clinch its first Southeastern Conference women’s soccer title since 1994 with a 3-1 victory over Arkansas last Sunday. She was planning to head home to Wylie, Texas, for the Thanksgiving holiday when her soccer coach called her with the opportunity to kick this weekend, she told the school’s athletics site. Her parents watched the game on Saturday from the stands as her kickoff traveled to the Missouri 35-yard line.
“I was just really calm,” she said about making the kick. “The SEC championship was more stressful.”
She added, “Honestly it’s just so exciting that I could represent for all the little girls out there that they can play football or any sport, really.”
Vanderbilt football Coach Derek Mason said on Nashville’s 102.5 The Game on Wednesday that he was impressed with how Fuller made the quick transition from soccer to football after the SEC tournament. “Talking to Sarah, she’s a champ. No pun intended,” he said.
Fuller is not the first woman to play college football in Division I: Katie Hnida was the first woman to score in a Division I game as a place-kicker for New Mexico in August 2003, and April Goss scored while playing for Kent State in 2015. Becca Longo became the first woman to receive an N.C.A.A. football scholarship to a Division II school when she signed to Adams State as a kicker in 2017 (she never kicked for the school because of injury, transferring to the Gila River Hawks of the Hohokam Junior College Athletic Conference in 2019).
Vanderbilt was blown out by Missouri, 41-0, and Fuller did not have an opportunity to attempt a field goal. Vanderbilt is 0-8 this season.
Fuller’s hasty addition to the team was one example of many of the virus’s impact on college football this season. The Commodores were originally supposed to play the University of Tennessee, but that game was postponed to accommodate for several postponements elsewhere in the SEC as teams struggle to contain the virus. Other conferences, like the Big Ten and Mountain West, have simply canceled games amid outbreaks, while the Ivy League halted fall and winter sports this year altogether.
“Contact tracing continues to be the biggest contributing factor to game interruptions,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a news release about the schedule on Monday. “We will continue to manage the remaining weeks of the football schedule to allow for as many games to be played as possible.”
The virus has surged across the country in the past few weeks. In Tennessee, where Vanderbilt is located, hospital leaders published an open letter to residents on Wednesday urging them to limit gatherings and wear masks. The letter, signed by Dr. Wright Pinson, the chief health system officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said that over the past month, hospitals in Middle Tennessee have had a 72 percent increase in Covid-19 patients and that they expected only more increases in weeks to come.
“If this trend continues, our hospital systems could soon be overwhelmed, and that would compromise the ability to serve all patients, not just those with Covid-19,” the doctors said in the letter.
Football players and female athletes alike offered Fuller words of encouragement posted to social media, among them Billie Jean King, Dak Prescott and Nick Folk, a New England Patriots kicker.
“Be as confident as you can, don’t worry about anything,” Folk said in a video posted to Twitter by the Patriots.