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Spartan Stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, Big Ten football returns this weekend. A sports columnist talks us through what collegiate football games will be like in a pandemic year. Also, a look at what life was like for African American people in Michigan prior to the Civil War. Plus, a Black family wonders whether they’re still welcome in their home in Cadillac.

football stadium signs for MSU and U of M
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Big Ten Conference opens its 2020 football season Friday night, but the games people care about in these parts are happening Saturday. Michigan State will host Rutgers in East Lansing in the afternoon. Michigan will visit Minnesota Saturday night.

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joined Morning Edition to discuss a season altered dramatically by COVID-19 before it even begins.

A person playing video games with screens showing games above him
Florian Olivo / Unsplash

Remember the first time you outraced your sibling in Mario Kart? Or, back in the heyday of arcades, the rush of seeing your name pop up on the high score board for Pac-Man? Well, the thrill of competitive video gaming isn't limited to living rooms and arcades anymore as esports teams take their place among traditional college athletics.

The Detroit Cubs at Hamtramck Stadium in 1935.
Burton Collection, Detroit Public Library

It’s been a long time since the historic Hamtramck Stadium has heard the roar of a crowd. One of the few Negro Leagues ballparks left in the nation, it’s stood empty and neglected for years. But in its heyday, back before professional baseball was integrated, it was home to the Detroit Stars. Legendary Black ballplayers like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson played there. Now, a local nonprofit wants to honor the stadium’s history and restore it to its former glory.

Spartan Stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University’s athletic director says it's “probably inevitable” that one or more Big Ten teams won’t be able to play a week or more during the conference’s 2020 football season.

EMMA WINOWIECKI / Michigan Radio

The Big Ten has reversed course. There will be college football this fall.

The Big Ten announced Wednesday that the fall football season will begin October 23. The conference has not said when or if other fall sports will also get the go ahead. 

aerial view of empty University of Michigan football stadium
Alex Mertz / Unsplash

Pop-up tents, coolers, and cornhole sets will be sitting, unused, in sheds and garages across the state of Michigan Saturday morning.

Unsplash

Today on Stateside, President Donald Trump placed a phone call to the Big Ten commissioner to discuss what might expedite the start of the season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A Sports Illustrated writer weighs in on the politicization of sports in 2020. Also, how U.S. presidents’ historical treatment of Black Americans informs the present moment. Plus, the thawing of the Great Lakes, as seen through the lens of a National Geographic photojournalist.

The Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions

The sports world almost stopped on a dime as NBA teams, and even some baseball teams, followed the lead of the Milwaukee Bucks and declined to play in recognition of the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot and paralyzed August, 23 by Kenosha, Wisconsin police.

The players have agreed to resume play tonight. But, it is an extraordinary moment in sports that brought attention to racial injustices and police brutality in America.

A black and white photo of Richard Austin
Public Domain

Today on Stateside, we talk to Detroit News sports columnist John Niyo about how professional athletes found their voice and their power as teams in Michigan and across the country protest racial injustice. Plus, Michigan's chief mobility officer joins us to talk about the changes coming to the way we get around.

University of Michigan Stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Update: August 11, 2020 at 3:16 p.m.

The Big Ten Conference has confirmed today that there will not be a fall sports season. It is the first of the college football's elite "Power Five" conferences to make the decision.

University of Michigan Stadium
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

It’s looking like this fall will be a quiet one at the Big House in Ann Arbor. The Big Ten Conference, which includes the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, has reportedly decided not to move forward with college football this season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While a formal announcement from the conference is not expected until Tuesday, Stateside spoke with Detroit Free Press sports reporter Chris Solari about what we know about the decision so far.

EMU's mascot, "Swoop."
Eastern Michigan University

The Mid-American Conference has become the first Division 1 league for college football to cancel its fall season because of COVID-19 concerns.

The conference includes Eastern, Western and Central Michigan Universities, as well as the University of Toledo.

It announced Saturday morning that all MAC schools will be postponing their fall sports programs hopefully until the spring.

Indiana Michigan football game
Creative Commons larrysphatpage

The Big Ten Wednesday became the first major college sports conference to announce its fall football schedule. But conference officials caution there is no certainty games will be played.

As protests over racial injustice in the U.S. continue, Major League Baseball is honoring an institution created 100 years ago because of its own racist past. The Negro Leagues showcased Black baseball players when they were banned from the big leagues.

MLB had to reschedule a celebration of the leagues' centennial originally set for June because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of Negro Leaguers left to celebrate is dwindling. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., estimates there are about 100 players still living.

Michigan State football
User: spartanjoe / Flickr

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) has given the green light for some fall sports to get underway. Golf, tennis and cross country can begin competition August 19 and 21. The decision for football, volleyball and soccer isn't expected until August 20.

The experiences of professional and collegiate athletes bring up more questions about resuming competition than answers. John U. Bacon is Michigan Radio's sports commentator. He has been keeping an eye on professional and student athlete's return to the field.

ice hockey game at Yost Arena
Courtesy of Michigan Photography

The University of Michigan has put voluntary summer workouts for four sports on hold.

In a statement, the U of M athletic department says it made the decision because of positive COVID-19 test results and contact tracing protocols.

Michigan football stadium
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been vocal about her decision to only reopen schools if public health officials agree it is safe.

What are the discussions happening between the Governor and the Republican led legislature regarding schools and education funding? Plus a conversation with former Detroit Institute of Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit employees about systemic racism in art institutions. Also, we spoke with the reporter who wrote about University of Michigan football star Jon Vaughn’s story of survival in “an ecosystem of abuse.”

Positive COVID-19 tests are affecting Michigan’s two largest college sports programs.

Michigan State University says all members of the East Lansing school’s football team will quarantine or isolate for 14 days. That's after a second staff member and one student-athlete tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

entrance to Comerica Park
Cacophony / Wikimedia Commons

One prediction about the Tigers' 2020 season is a sure thing. It will be like no other season baseball fans have ever seen. 

Detroit will play its first game of the shortened campaign Friday night in Cincinnati against the Reds.   

In addition to a schedule cut from 162 games to 60, the Tigers will be playing under a host of new rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. They include limited seating in the dugouts, and a ban on spitting and high-fives.

Michigan radio sports commentator John U. Bacon says MLB is getting it right when it comes to safety.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

If there is football played in the Big House this fall, most Wolverine fans will find themselves having to watch the games from home.

The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced its preliminary football ticket plans Wednesday. Under the ticket plan, students and current season ticket holders would be given the opportunity to purchase single game tickets.   There will be no tickets available for the general public.

But whether there will be games played remains a question.

Paw Paw school district

After decades as the "Redskins,” Paw Paw schools will now be the Red Wolves.

On Monday, school board president Brent McNitt joined other school board members in voting unanimously to approve the new nickname and logo.

Indiana Michigan football game
Creative Commons larrysphatpage

The Big Ten Conference won't play nonconference games in football or other sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” says the Big Ten said in a statement.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, a minor league baseball league is scheduled to begin play in West Michigan.

A dozen workers spent the weekend prepping the ballpark for Wednesday’s season opener between the Kalamazoo Growlers and Kalamazoo Mac Daddies.

empty baseball stadium
Simon Johnson

For a time with very few sporting events, it's been a very busy week for sports news. Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon shared his thoughts on bringing back sports during the COVID-19 crisis and the Detroit Lions' ownership change.

Root, root, root for three northern Michigan baseball teams this summer

Jun 21, 2020
Baseball player holding baseballs
Jose Morales / Unsplash

A couple of brand new baseball teams will be calling northern Michigan home this summer.

The Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears will join the Traverse City Pit Spitters at Turtle Creek Stadium this year.

waving michigan flag
Courtesy Michigan Photography

Two University of Michigan student-athletes and one at Michigan State University have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent tests.

Between them, U-M and MSU have tested more than 300 student-athletes as the Big Ten schools prepare to return to athletic competition.

Two other MSU athletes previously tested positive for COVID-19.

U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel says the testing is part of the Ann Arbor university’s plan to restart its athletic program.

john u. bacon running with friends
Christie Bacon

Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon had Monday April 20, circled on his calendar for a long, long time. Before COVID-19 hit, that was the date of the Boston Marathon, and John was supposed to be in it. The marathon is on hold, so John came up with an alternative: he drew up his own 26.2 mile course in Ann Arbor and invited people to cheer him on – at a distance – over the weekend.

comerica park
Gary Shear / Unsplash

Comerica Park sat silent and Opening Day for the Detroit Tigers passed un-celebrated as the city grapples with the COVID-19 crisis. Major League Baseball postponed the start of its season, following the cues of several other pro sports leagues. Detroit-based reporter Bill Shea covers the business of sports for The Athletic. He talked to Stateside about the ripple effects empty sports venues could have on Detroit's downdown economy. 

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