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Now that Major League Soccer has re-started, a group of Black Major League Soccer players is using the moment to call attention to systemic racism across sports and society.

Black Players for Change was formerly the Black Players Coalition of MLS, but changed its name this week while joining forces with the Players Coalition, the NFL players group founded by Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins.

Black Players for Change made its first public demonstration since coming together last month at Wednesday night’s opening game of the MLS Is Back tournament in Florida.

Players stood, fists raised, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time that has become a symbol of police brutality, after a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck when he died. More than 170 Black players, some wearing “Silence is Violence” T-shirts and Black Lives Matter face masks, took part in the pregame protest.

“Really this protest is about fighting for racial equality and human rights,” organizer Justin Morrow of Toronto FC said. “We’re standing with all of our brothers and sisters across the world — definitely across the North American sports landscape, but we see what’s happening over in Europe as well, how soccer players are fighting against racism there. We’re standing with all of our brothers and sisters to fight this fight.”

Black Players for Change sprung from an Instagram group started by Morrow after the death of Floyd. The death sparked protests worldwide against racism and policy brutality.

Portland’s Jeremy Ebobisse, Chicago’s CJ Sapong, Nashville’s Jalil Anibaba, NYCFC’s Sean Johnson and Colorado’s Kei Kamara are among some of the other players involved. The group has the endorsement of both MLS and the players’ association.

“It was very powerful to put my fist up and to be there on the field with so many people that are trying to make a change in this country. And that’s what we need to do,” Inter Miami’s Juan Agudelo said.

The group has called on the league to increase diversity hiring in coaching, front office and executive positions, appoint a chief diversity officer, implement implicit bias training and expand cultural education.

It has also discussed developing the game in black communities and partnering with charities, and has already secured $75,000 in charitable contributions from the MLS Players Association.

“This moment for us as a black player pool, is that we can stand up, we can make this statement that’s come completely from us. It was so important that it was player led, it couldn’t have worked the other way around,” Morrow said. “This moment of solidarity with our brothers and sisters fighting this battle for racial equality and human rights is so important. And we want to make sure that the narrative was player led, player driven in coming strictly from us.”

The Players Coalition partnership allows the two groups from different sports to share resources in a common goal. The NFL group, which aims to address social justice and racial inequality, was started in 2017 after team owners objected to players kneeling during the national anthem.

“The commonalities and goals of both our organizations presented a natural opportunity to align,” Boldin said in a statement. “I am excited to continue the growth of Players Coalition as an opportunity for all athletes across all professional sports leagues to make a significant impact in our communities.”

Players Coalition reached out to the MLS players upon hearing about their group.

“All of these people are reaching out to us, wanting to help us, and that just gets to what we’re doing here, Morrow said. ”We’re putting together something really solid, an organization that is here for future generations, here to make lasting change in Major League Soccer and in our communities.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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CHICAGO (AP) — The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field. The tricky breeze in San Francisco. The heat in Los Angeles.

The weather is important business in baseball. But what kind of business is still being decided.

Weather Applied Metrics has a contract with Marquee Sports Network to develop graphics that show the effect of the weather on the flight of balls for home games for the Chicago Cubs this summer — assuming there is a season amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is planning to install weather stations at Wrigley Field by the end of next week.

It had a pilot program for Red Sox broadcasts last year. But it’s also heading into the third season of a deal with another major league team it declined to identify that decided to keep the information internal.

“The biggest thing that they’re doing with it is they’re positioning their outfielders,” said John Farley, the chief technology officer for Weather Applied Metrics. “Their thing to us was if you can get us 20 extra outs a year this is well worth whatever it costs because they can factor in that they can win x number of games because of that.

“But we think we’re getting them many more than 20 outs a year.”

One of the biggest keys to Weather Applied Metrics’ modeling is computational fluid dynamics, which uses software to help analyze the flow of gas or liquids, or how flowing gas or liquids affects objects.

Think of computational fluid dynamics as “having a wind tunnel on a computer,” said Jani Macari Pallis, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

Wind tunnels are “somewhat time consuming and you have to build lots of models,” Pallis said. “So now what we can do with computational fluids is we can make these models on a computer. We can try lots of things out, and then the models that look the best on the computer, those are the ones that we put in a wind tunnel.”

Computational fluid dynamics has played a role in several innovations in sports, beginning with early adopters like motor sports and yachting in the mid-1990s and then extending to Olympic and ball sports. It could take on a more prominent role in the coming years.

“I see more and more CFD being used to simulate real world scenarios in races/games before they happen, that is in training scenarios so that CFD becomes a training tool for elite sports people — when coupled with modern virtual reality simulators,” Keith Hanna, an executive with MSC Software, wrote in an email.

“Indeed video games and sports have merged in many sports for elite and normal sports people. In addition, we are all different as human beings and the need to produce customized equipment and sporting experiences is an area where CFD is being applied to more and more.”

Weather Applied Metrics has a connection to baseball in former Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Brett Jackson, who is the director of operations. Jackson’s father, Pete, helped come up with the idea for the company.

Farley, who also works as the chief meteorologist for the ABC affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina, said it has had conversations with Major League Baseball about the competitive advantage aspect of its work.

“In our meetings with Major League Baseball, they seem to be directing us toward the broadcast (side) at first and then it’ll go from there,” Farley said. “But they do know about this one team that is using it and doesn’t want it on their broadcast, and we just, you know, we’re a company selling stuff and we’re happy to sell to people who buy.”

Asked about Weather Applied Metrics and its work, a spokesman for Major League Baseball declined comment.

Farley said they think there will be a market for the company’s broadcast product and private data for team analysis.

“Depending on the weather situation, there are certain times that we can predict this thing five days in advance,” he said.

“There are a lot of opportunities that we see,” he continued. “You might even decide whether to send a guy from third because we can tell you that weather near the ground is going to impact the throw by this much and the fielder might not be aware of it. So there’s a lot of things that we think can be done with this.”

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Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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(Reuters) – The New England Patriots have completed the signing of veteran quarterback Cam Newton, the NFL team said on Wednesday.

ESPN reported last month that the former NFL Most Valuable Player had agreed a one-year deal with the Patriots following six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay.

Newton spent nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, taking the team to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos. The Panthers released him in March.

“The New England Patriots officially announced the signing of veteran QB Cam Newton today,” the Patriots said on their website https://www.patriots.com/news/patriots-sign-qb-cam-newton.

Newton, the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, underwent foot surgery in December after injury limited him to two games in 2019. The league’s official website https://www.nfl.com/news/cam-newton-officially-becomes-a-new-england-patriot said the deal could earn Newton up to $7.5 million.

The 31-year-old holds the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season with 14 in 2011.

He is also the only NFL player to have at least six seasons with 3,000 or more passing yards and 500 or more rushing yards at any point in his career.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


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