Peyton Manning drops by University of Tennessee online class to surprise students

iStock(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) -- Football legend Peyton Manning surprised University of Tennessee students in an online class Thursday.

Students in a communication studies senior Capstone class were shocked to see Manning suddenly appear on their Zoom chat after their professor, John Haas, said, "Mr. Thompson, I think you're late for class."

The former professional football player, a two-time Super Bowl champion, then responded, "I'm sorry Dr. Haas. It's been a while. It's been at least since 1996 or 7 since I've been in a class."

Manning graduated from UT in 1997 and often shows off his pride for the Vols.

Manning then shared a message of hope and positivity for the students, who are completing their courses from home for the duration of the semester due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm just wanting to drop in and say hello to all the fellow communication students there, [I] realize this is a unique time and probably not the ideal way you guys expected to spend your senior year," Manning told the students.

"But I just encourage you to keep a positive attitude, keep working like you're doing and try to take advantage of the little bit of the extra time you have to accomplish something else or help out somebody in need -- a lot of people are hurting out there during this time," he continued.

He also encouraged students to "be thankful" for their blessings and reminded them that, "the University of Tennessee is proud of you and going to support you every way they can, and Dr. Haas and his department are going to do the same thing."

Ireland Rowe, a senior at UT, said she felt "like a 10 year old on Christmas morning."

"When you think of UT, one of the first things you think of is Peyton Manning," she said in a statement to Good Morning America. "He has remained connected to the university over the years which is inspiring to see. Him joining our Zoom class session was the boost of confidence we needed to finish the rest of our semester."

She added, "It's incredible to be able to witness moments of encouragement during a time like this, especially from a hero of every Volunteer."

Another student in Haas' class, Rachel Katzara, also expressed her thanks for Manning's surprise and her professor's part in it.

"All of us have adjusted to the online format and are trying to stay focused on the semester, and finishing strong," she shared. "That being said, I know a lot of us are sad. We are missing our friends and professors, and navigating through the crisis like all Americans, the best we can. Our faculty at the University of Tennessee has been outstanding in this time, and the fact that they are taking time out to think of ways to keep us all smiling has been just amazing!"

Manning and his former professor have a bond that goes way back.

In 2018, the former pro donated $1 million to his alma mater to create the John Haas Student Experiential Learning Endowment in honor of Haas.

"Exceptional teachers transform your way of learning by challenging and motivating you while teaching more than just a subject," Manning said in a statement at the time. "For me and so many others, that teacher was Dr. John Haas."

The respect is definitely mutual. Haas told GMA that Manning "truly represents what it means to be a Volunteer in every sense of the word."

"He’s always the first to step up and come to the aid of those who need assistance," Haas said in a statement. "As an alum, he has stayed connected to the University of Tennessee for more than 20 years now. He has such a positive impact on our students and campus community."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Former Miami Heat lawyer claims she was fired for going on maternity leave

iStock(MIAMI) -- A former attorney for the Miami Heat NBA team is suing the basketball organization in federal court, claiming she was fired in retaliation for taking maternity leave.

Vered Yakovee, who was a vice president and associate general counsel for The Heat Group, had been approved to become an adoptive parent in the fall of 2018 and received the news that she was selected to adopt a newborn baby on the evening of July 9, 2019, according to the complaint, filed earlier this month in the Southern District of Florida.

The next morning, Yakovee informed her immediate supervisor, The Heat Group's Executive Vice President and General Counsel Raquel Libman, of her immediate need for parental leave, to which Libman allegedly responded, "now I definitely won't be get to take a vacation," and "what am I going to do with [your Assistant Counsel]?" the lawsuit states.

Yakovee offered "multiple times" to go to the office for a few days for Libman's convenience, "to ensure she had transitioned matters in an organization and effective manner, and to address any other matter of importance," but Libman declined each offer, according to the court documents.

Yakovee then took formal leave beginning on July 11 and returned to work 12 weeks later on Oct. 3, as permitted by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

FMLA, a labor law, states that eligible employees can have up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth and adoption or to care for a close relative in poor health, which includes care for a new child, whether for birth, adoption or placement into foster care. FMLA requires 30 days' notice to the employer for "foreseeable" leave, "except that if the date of the birth or placement requires leave to begin in less than 30 days," in which the employee "shall provide notice as is practicable."

On the morning of Yakovee's first day back to work, she was "immediately confronted with a lengthy email" from Libman that reportedly accused her of missing deadlines during her leave and misrepresented a project that Yakovee worked on before her leave, according to the lawsuit.

Yakovee says in the suit she was told via email by The Heat Group's president of business operations, Eric Woolworth, that Libman was "upset" about discussions Yakovee had with him about her leave. But, the complaint states, Libman had not talked to Yakovee about that until she got back to work. On Oct. 14 -- a week and a half after she returned to work -- Yakovee was told by Libman's executive assistant that Libman was upset about her maternity leave and that she should "tread lightly," according to the complaint.

From Oct. 3 to her "forced departure" on Dec. 19, Libman treated Yakovee with "disdain and hostility," according to the lawsuit, which also accuses Libman of berating her and making complaints about her FMLA leave both privately and in group meetings and emails.

Yakovee was a valued employee prior to taking parental leave, according to the complaint. In January 2019, Yakovee received her last performance review prior to taking her leave, during which Libman gave her "the highest rating possible" in all categories, the complaint states.

Yakovee received a bonus as a result of that review, and she had received an annual pay increase as well as merit-based bonuses twice a year during each year of her employment since 2015.

Libman handed Yakovee her first critical performance review on Nov. 27 (although reviews are typically given in January), according to the lawsuit. When Yakovee attempted to ask questions about "erroneous and unfounded critiques," Libman said "she could not discuss it without Human Resources present because there was an ongoing 'investigation,' and that Ms. Yakovee did 'not understand' the consequences of her actions," the complaint states.

On Dec. 4, the director of human resources emailed Yakovee to criticize her for not having provided "enough advance notice" for her maternity leave. She was fired on Dec. 19, one day after taking a sick day to take her baby to the doctor, according to the lawsuit. Before that, she had claims in the lawsuit to have never taken a sick day during her tenure with The Heat Group.

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 as well as attorney's fees, interests and costs. It also seeks for Yakovee to be reinstatement to a position comparable to her prior position with back pay plus interest, pension rights and all benefits. The Heat Group is listed as the sole defendant.

A representative for the Miami Heat did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. ABC News could not immediately reach Libman for comment.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ticket information released for Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant memorial

iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Ticket information for the public memorial service of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant has been released.

Tickets for the Feb. 24 memorial start at $24.02 or can be purchased for $224 each or two for $224, according to the NBA.

Similar to the date of the service, the prices have significance. Bryant wore No. 24 on his basketball jersey, while Gianna wore No. 2.

All proceeds will go to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Bryant and his daughter, along with seven others, were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Jan. 26. The two were heading to Gianna's basketball game, officials said.

Mourners and fans will have to register using Ticketmaster Verified Fan before purchasing tickets, according to the NBA. They will be notified on Tuesday if they've been verified and invited to participate in the ticket release, which will open on Wednesday at 10 a.m. pacific time.

If demand for tickets exceeds supply, fans will be selected at random to participate in the public sale.

The memorial, called "The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant," will be shown live on most local Los Angeles television stations, according to the NBA statement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Students from LeBron James’ school surprised with free college tuition for 4 years

iStock(AKRON, Ohio) -- Students from LeBron James' I Promise School in Ohio received the surprise of a lifetime that will make the next move in their education a slam dunk.

The LeBron James Family Foundation announced Wednesday that it will provide four years of free tuition for eligible students in the school's first graduating class in partnership with Kent State University.

 The group of high school juniors from the NBA superstar's public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, visited Kent State University where university officials spoke to the room of eager students.

"You are Mr. LeBron James' first class, his first love, it all started because of you," Melody Tankersley, interim senior vice president and provost at KSU, said.

Todd Diacon, KSU president, helped to reveal the big surprise, asking the students to retrieve an envelope that was under their chairs.

 Inside every envelope was a card from the school that read, "Kent State guarantees your tuition free for four years! You will also receive free room and meal plan for your first year."

"We are doing this because we know of the transformative power of a higher education and a college degree, but most of all we're doing this because you guys have demonstrated over the past several years that you have the grit, that you have the determination, that you have the dreams to succeed," Diacon said.

The Lakers star retweeted multiple videos from the I Promise School and his foundation to help share the good news.

James first opened the public school in 2018 through the LeBron James Family Foundation to help at-risk youth.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Female sportscasters reflect on their love for the job for Black History Month

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Four sports broadcasters whose names have been celebrated everywhere from the sidelines to the studio have a few things in common when it comes to their rise through the ranks of sports journalism and what they have learned along the way.

Pam Oliver, Lisa Salters and Maria Taylor joined ESPN SportsCenter host Sage Steele for ABC News' Black History Month speaker series to discuss of how each has navigated the intricacies of the sports broadcasting landscape and honed their craft.

Oliver, a Fox NFL sideline reporter who is widely considered to be a trailblazer in sports media, started as a reporter covering agriculture and science before tackling football.

"I just wanted to be a reporter; not necessarily a sports reporter," Oliver said. "Plus I took the jobs that came along -- for the first nine years of my career -- and I wouldn't change anything about that."

Oliver remembered a former news director who told her the move from news to sports would be "the biggest mistake" of her career. Looking back now, she said, "it worked out perfectly for me."

Similarly, Salters said that after she made it to the network for ABC News before turning 30 years old, people would tell her that a switch to sports would be "career suicide."

"ESPN kept calling saying, 'Hey we’d like you to come here,' and I kept saying 'no,'" she said. "Two years go by and I thought, 'OK I'll give it a try. If I don't like it I'll go right back to ABC' -- I kick myself now for waiting those two years to not make the move sooner."

Salters continued, "It was the best decision that I ever made and I have never, for a second, regretted it," Salters continued, adding that she'd only wished she'd done it sooner.

Taylor, who was a dual sport Division 1 athlete at University of Georgia, rose through the ranks to become an analyst and host for ESPN and the SEC Network rather quickly. She said, in part, that women like Oliver and Salters had paved her path to success by creating a "tangible" blueprint.

"Growing up saying I wanted to be a sideline reporter wasn't out of the ordinary," she said.

Taylor said she "really felt like it was possible" despite the fact that professors would tell her she'd "never make money in sports. It'll never work out."

All three broadcasters spoke about how they've learned to stay grounded, especially given the current atmosphere in which both positive and negative feedback fill social media feeds almost constantly.

Taylor, who started with ESPNU calling college football games, admitted that she failed in her first on-camera report due to a mishap with a button on the microphone.

"I just have to leave them thinking, 'yeah, she messed up, but she bounced back really well,'" Taylor said. "The biggest thing was just not letting that one mistake define the rest of the entire game."

Steele and Salters both added that they always have to think about the next game and bounce back.

"There's no such thing as a perfect broadcast or perfect report," Steele said, adding that it's about staying ready and level for what's to come.

"We don't have time to think that we're cute," Salters said. "Because if I'm thinking about what the last game was like -- 'Oh, I rocked that game' -- I would be humbled in a heartbeat."

Oliver explained that she doesn't rely on outside influences to keep her humble.

"I'm grateful to be in this position to do something I've always wanted to do," she said.

Taylor shared an inspirational quote that she said has stuck with her through her grind: "If you live for the sound of applause then you'll die from the lack of it."

"When that stops happening, we won't be good at our job or we might get depressed or fall into a place that we don't want to be in," Taylor added. "We're so internally motivated and the external factors can't affect you that much. But we are black women on TV and people are looking at us, so there is a level of responsibility."

Salters, who has been on some of the most memorable football and basketball game sidelines throughout her career, also said that what they do "is not unlike what the athletes do" and that "the preparation is always the same."

"One motto that I've always had is 'don't believe the hype.' You're never as good as they say you are and you're never as horrible as they say you are," Salters explained. "You know who you are. There's no need for me to read Twitter or Instagram."

And while there will always be circumstances beyond their control -- such as inclement weather -- Oliver said it has never deterred her from appreciating her love for the job.

"It's kind of 'do what you love and the rest will follow,' but we're very, very lucky women," she said.

Success and game faces aside, Steele also explained how the human aspects of their world can have a heavy impact on their reporting, such as the death of Kobe Bryant.

Salters spent the formative years of her career covering, working with and watching the Los Angeles Lakers legend from the sidelines. She admitted that when she heard the tragic news 15 minutes before her Pro Bowl broadcast, she couldn't handle it well.

Although Salters went on-air, she said "it was really hard."

"I've never been on television in tears before," she said. "I've never had to have an athlete console me before and after an interview before like Drew Brees had to do. It was just really difficult."

Salters said Bryant was one of the first to congratulate her after she'd gotten assigned to work from the NBA sidelines. Before a Miami Heat vs. Lakers Christmas Day game, she said she'd gone to the Lakers practice-turned-holiday party to "get the lay of the land." Bryant, who was dressed as Santa Clause, had asked to speak to her.

"I went over and he said, 'I'm really happy that they picked you for this job. I mean...they could've picked a lot of people and they did the right thing. You're gonna be great at it.'"

Taylor, who wrote a personal essay on Bryant's involvement with the Mamba women's and youth basketball teams, fondly remembered that Bryant "always came to women's basketball events. He was like the guy who validated our game."

"Just the outpouring of love and support, she added, "you can't make up how much this man was loved."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Kobe Bryant honored at memorial by his Philadelphia-area high school

iStock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Kobe Bryant was honored Saturday at his former high school in a packed gymnasium, nearly a week after his shocking death.

Around 1,600 people, including Bryant's cousin and former high school teammates, showed up for the tribute at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, in the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium.

Kevin Grugan, one of the NBA legend's high school teammates, who is now the assistant coach for the school's boys basketball team, thanked those who have shown an "outpouring of love and support."

Grugan also announced that Bryant's legacy would be commemorated in the gym, with his high-school jersey framed on a wall.

"We will welcome Kobe home in a small way," Grugan said. "As the jersey that belongs here is finally here."

A video montage of Bryant's life and career was also played, including a final image of him smiling court-side with his arm wrapped around his 13-year-old daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant. The two were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

The other victims were identified as college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli, their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, basketball coach Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan.

The tribute took place between the varsity girls and varsity boys basketball games.

Bryant graduated from Lower Merion, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, in 1996 and went straight to the NBA.

Gregg Downer, who was Bryant's coach throughout high school, was in attendance at the ceremony but did not publicly speak. Bryant's cousin, John Cox, who plays French professional basketball, also attended the ceremony but did not publicly speak.

"Aces Nation has lost its heartbeat," Downer said in an earlier statement, referring to the school's nickname for its basketball team.

The high school memorial is among the countless that have poured in since his death. On Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the court for their first game since the tragedy. Bryant spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.

"Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the last three years," James said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Racism in soccer is an ‘epidemic’ that mirrors disturbing trends in Europe: Advocates

iStock(LONDON) -- Late last month, in the 63rd minute of one of the highest profile games on the English soccer calendar between Chelsea and Tottenham, officials were forced to stop play.

It wasn't a yellow card or even a red card.

Racism had apparently reared its ugly head once again -- a scourge that has been resurfacing in a number of professional sports in recent years.

Antonio Rudiger, a black Chelsea defender, was seen complaining to the referee, with a gesture putting his hands under his armpits, to indicate that he believed he had been subjected to racist monkey chants from rival Tottenham supporters. The referee, Anthony Taylor, used a new protocol from UEFA, European soccer's governing body, to stop play. The new protocol, introduced in October 2019, allows for the referee to abandon the match if racist behavior continues after two warnings, issued by a stadium announcer.

Three stadium announcements saying that “racist behavior among supporters is interfering with the game” followed in the remaining half hour, a surreal, confusing and sad spectacle for soccer fans watching on television and in the stands.

“It is really sad to see racism again at a football match, but I think it's very important to talk about it in public,” Rudiger posted on Twitter after the incident. “If not, it will be forgotten again in a couple of days (as always)… When will this nonsense stop?”

Eventually, Tottenham and the police said they could find no evidence that Rudiger had been subjected to the taunts -- although a Chelsea fan was arrested for racially abusing a Tottenham player, Son-Heung-Min. Chelsea has not commented.

The incident closed out a year in which levels of racism in European soccer, described by anti-racism advocates as an “epidemic," reached new heights.

If this was the first time the new protocol had been used, it certainly does not look like it will be the last. Over the course of the 2018-19 season, which ran from September to July, England's anti-racism and pro-inclusion group for the sport, Kick It Out, released statistics saying that reports of discrimination, on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, religion and race, had increased by 32% from the previous season -- from 319 to 422.

Racist incidents constituted 65% of those reports, the data shows.

The problem has not just been racist abuse directed at players. Alongside racist incidents, anti-racism charities have long criticized soccer’s governing bodies for limp responses to these incidents and weak punishments, paying lip service to problems without showing leadership in stamping them out. Both FIFA (the world's soccer governing body) and UEFA have pushed back on those assertions, blaming the rise of nationalism and reaffirming their commitment to fighting racism.

"UEFA's sanctions are among the toughest in sport for clubs and associations whose supporters are racist at our matches," the organization said in a statement in October.

Among the highest-profile incidents was a match between England and Bulgaria in October, which saw Bulgaria fans’ allegedly directing Nazi salutes and monkey chants at England’s black players, forcing the game to stop twice. Bulgaria was already halfway through a partial stadium ban for previous racist incidents, which saw 5,000 fans blocked from entering a 46,000-seat stadium in October.

Kick It Out issued a statement saying it was “sickened” by the incident, and that serious action was needed in order to tackle discrimination in the game.

After the match, the president of the Bulgaria Football Union resigned “as a consequence” of the “tensions” surrounding the match, although the organization did not specifically mention racism in its statement.

UEFA fined the Bulgarian soccer association $83,000, and hit the team with a two-game stadium closure, meaning no fans were allowed inside the stadium during the game.

Iffy Onuora, the equalities coach for the Professional Footballers’ Association, the trade union for soccer players in England and Wales, told ABC News that that match, given what he described as Bulgarian soccer’s history of racism, was a “seminal moment in recent years.”

"How did that happen when it was widely anticipated?” he said. “I think the profile of the game, an England international involving the very best players in the country, I think that’s when it really threw everything into sharper focus.”

Perhaps the best example on the European continent of the failure of institutions to tackle the problem was in fact an anti-racism campaign in Italy, considered by many to be historically one of the worst offenders.

The "No-to-Racism" posters, officially sanctioned by Serie A -- Italy’s top soccer league -- featured images of monkeys' faces and were displayed at the Serie A headquarters in Milan in December at a presentation. Serie A eventually apologized after a public backlash, as just a month earlier the Italian striker Mario Balotelli was left visibly distraught on the field after being subjected to monkey chants in a match against Hellas Verona.

Christos Kassimeris, a professor of political science at the European University Cyprus, who is authoring an upcoming book entitled "Discrimination in Football: isms and phobias," told ABC News that the incident “speaks volumes of the kind of ignorance that best describes many” across the continent.

“Simply put, acknowledging that racism in football exists is certainly not enough to either support football players or equip them with the necessary tools that would enable them to make a difference,” Kassimeris said.

Piara Power, the executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, an anti-racism umbrella group that includes supporters’ groups and NGOs, told ABC News that the Italian example was particularly bad, although some of the problems are common across the continent.

“There’s no question that mimicry is part of this -- people see it happening in one part of Europe and think that’s a good thing to do,” Power said. “That reflects the demographic of individuals involved, often young men who will follow and copy each other.”

Yet soccer, by far the world’s most played and watched sport, does not exist in a bubble. Indeed, the first point many anti-racism campaigners point to in discussing the issue is the political developments that have emerged in Europe since around 2015. The “epidemic” of racism is impossible to understand without grasping the continent’s shifting politics, according to Power.

“People are now saying things that perhaps even five years ago they would have hesitated to say in a public space,” he told ABC News. “Across Eastern Europe you can look at Hungary, Poland, Slovakia -- where populist governments have a far right agenda. They are often using language of intolerance, scapegoating minority communities. A lot of this is spilling over into football.”

Onuoura, who is black and whose playing career spanned the entire 1990s in the lower divisions of English soccer, is as well placed as any to have observed how the game has changed. Black players came to prominence in the U.K. in the 1970s, and racism was widespread in the game, which continued into the next decade, he said, but his days as a professional were “a period of calm.”

"The direction ... was definitely to more tolerance, more inclusion, to try and improve situations for minority people in this country,” he told ABC News. “I'm not sure that direction has carried on in the same way. If you accept it or don't accept it, what you can say with a reasonable degree of certainty is football is a reflection of society. Football doesn't exist in a vacuum."

The political climate, as well as the “perfect storm” of social media allowing fans to anonymously abuse players, has spilled out into modern soccer, Onuoura said. Several high-profile players and coaches have called on social media companies to do more to stamp out racist abuse online.

“The game of football mirrors society at large,” Kassimeris said. “With the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, comparing women in burkas to 'letterboxes,' or the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, often expressing his xenophobic views, racism in European politics is reaching unparalleled heights.”

Johnson refused to apologize for his remark, calling it a "strong liberal defense ... of everybody's right to wear whatever he wants in this country." Orban, meanwhile, has rejected the criticism that he is racist, which came from the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Indeed, it was frustration with how much of the tabloid press treated black soccer players in the U.K. that appears to have sparked another watershed moment in how racism in soccer is perceived -- the closest the game has come to a "Colin Kaepernick" moment.

Manchester City player Raheem Sterling, who is black, issued a statement on Instagram; Sterling, who has regularly been targeted on the field, and criticized by the media, called out the tabloid media’s coverage of two young soccer players buying houses for their mothers -- one black, and one white.

His teammate Tosin Adarabioyo, who is black, was criticized in reports in the MailOnline for buying a house for this mom, while white teammate Phil Foden also bought a lavish house for his mother but did not appear to receive the same criticism. Sterling himself had been criticized for buying a house for his mom by the MailOnline in 2017, with the headline "£180,000-a-week England flop Raheem shows off blinging house he bought for his mum -- complete with jewel-encrusted bathroom -- hours after flying home in disgrace from Euro 2016."

“This young black kid is looked at in a bad light,” Sterling's statement read. “Which helps fuel racism an[d] aggressive behaviour, so for all the news papers [sic] that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity an[d] give all players an equal chance.”

The reporter on the story denied that the piece was about race and tweeted "it didn't even cross my mind."

“We are now seeing a cohort of players who feel like they have the agency and capability to challenge racism in ways that haven’t been done before,” Daniel Burdsey, a sociologist at the University of Brighton who researches racism in sport and society, told ABC News.

As of November last year, there were only six Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) managers out of the 72 teams in the top four divisions of English soccer. In a report released last year the FA, U.K. soccer’s governing body, found that only people from BAME backgrounds make up only 6% of “leadership roles” in the sport in England and Wales.

Meanwhile, only 4% of referees identify as BAME, according to U.K.’s soccer governing body.

"We hear racism being shouted on the terraces, but it also happens when a black official walks up to a boardroom [of a soccer club], but doesn't get recognized as an official, because the person upstairs doesn't recognize him and ... I've experienced some of that myself,” Onuoura told ABC News. "There's the culture of 'black players play,' and non-black players coach, manage, lead and are senior management in the company.”

The U.K.’s governing institutions have implemented the NFL’s ‘Rooney Rule,’ whereby clubs must interview at least one BAME candidate for management positions, but the problem, for campaigners inside the game, goes far wider than that, and the solutions are far from clear.

"Football can do better,” Onuoura said. “[But] we've allowed the narrowing of opinion, the shutting down of opinion, this intolerance to seep into our culture over the last 8-10 years ... and it might take another 8-10 years to turn that the other way."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Los Angeles councilmen to request MLB award World Series titles to Dodgers following Astros sign-stealing scandal

iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- Officials in Los Angeles believe they have found a way to rectify the World Series titles they feel they were cheated out of during the sign-stealing scandal surrounding the Houston Astros.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to request that MLB award the Dodgers the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles, which they lost to the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox, respectively, Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV reported.

Last week, MLB announced stiff penalties against the Houston Astros for stealing signs during their 2017 World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

MLB also announced an investigation into the Boston Red Sox's 2018 World Series win against the Dodgers, after then-manager Alex Cora was identified as the ringleader of the scandal while with the Astros.

On Jan. 13, two days after the news broke, Los Angeles Councilmen Paul Koretz and Gilbert Cedillo formally introduced a resolution calling on MLB hand over the titles, stating that it would "uncharted territory" but a fair move.

"There have been scandals in the past over the century-plus that we've had Major League Baseball in this country," Koretz said, according to KABC-TV. "I'm not sure if we've had this documented an effort to steal two World Series, and we know the results."

Koretz added that stripping the titles from Houston and Boston would be "appropriate payback" in light of the scandal.

"I think this really besmirches the national pastime and the most historic sport in American history, and there has to be a message that this isn't allowed," he said.

The Astros were fined $5 million, the maximum allowed under current MLB rules, and forced to forfeit first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 drafts. The Astros fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch about an hour after they were suspended by MLB for the 2020 season.

The Red Sox parted ways with Cora the next day, but a decision from MLB on whether to punish him is being withheld until the separate investigation is complete.

Mets manager Carlos Beltran, who was a player for Houston during the alleged cheating, resigned in the wake of the scandal as well. He was the only player implicated in the MLB report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NBA player Chandler Parsons faces potentially career-ending injury after car hit by drunk driver, law firm says

iStock(NEW YORK) -- NBA player Chandler Parsons was in a potentially career-ending car accident, reportedly involving a driver who was under the influence, according to the law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Chandler, who is a small forward with the Atlanta Hawks, was reportedly driving home from practice around 2 p.m. on Jan. 15 when his vehicle was struck. Parsons, according to his attorneys, "suffered multiple severe and permanent injuries including a traumatic brain injury, disc herniation and a torn labrum."

Parsons' attorneys, John Morgan and Nick Panagakis, said his injuries could potentially end his nine-year NBA career.

"Chandler is having a difficult time accepting the consequence of the defendant's reckless conduct on the roadway," his lawyers said in a statement to ABC News.

The alleged suspect was not identified by the firm, but it said the driver was arrested and charged with a DUI. The driver who allegedly hit Parsons was unconscious at the wheel when police arrived, according to USA Today, citing an incident report. A 7-Up bottle filled with alcohol was reportedly found in the driver's seat, the outlet reported.

The Hawks, in a statement on the day of the incident, said Parsons was involved in an accident after practice. The team said he was diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash and that he would enter the NBA's concussion protocol. They announced Monday he was out of their next game with "concussion/whiplash/associated disc injury."

The team has not disclosed any further details about his injuries or the crash.

"Chandler was in peak physical condition at the time of the wreck," Parsons' legal team said in a statement. "He is now working with a team of doctors to regain his health, and at this time, his ability to return to play is unclear. Our focus right now is on helping him make a full recovery, while we also work to hold any and all responsible parties fully accountable."

Parsons is on the last year of a four-year, $94 million contract. He was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Hawks prior to the start of the 2019-2020 NBA season.

The forward was selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. He has also played for the Dallas Mavericks. In college, Parsons was named an NCAA All-American while playing for the Florida Gators.

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Scoreboard roundup — 12/31/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Boston 109, Charlotte 92
Indiana 115, Philadelphia 97
L.A. Clippers 105, Sacramento 87
Toronto 117, Cleveland 97
Houston 130, Denver 104
San Antonio 117, Golden State 113
Oklahoma City 106, Dallas 101


NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

New Jersey 3, Boston 2
N.Y. Islanders 4, Washington 3
Vegas 5, Anaheim 2
Toronto 4, Minnesota 1
Tampa Bay 6, Buffalo 4
Carolina 3, Montreal 1
Columbus 4, Florida 1
Detroit 2, San Jose 0
Winnipeg 7, Colorado 4
Arizona 3, St. Louis 1
Chicago 5, Calgary 3
Edmonton 7, N-Y Rangers 5
Los Angeles 5, Philadelphia 3

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Duke 88, Boston College 49
Butler 60, St. John's 58
Florida St. 70, Georgia Tech 58

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