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Giants knock out Cowboys to stay alive in NFC East as questionable decisions doom Dallas



In fitting fashion, an NFC East elimination game concluded with a running back sitting on his fumbled ball. Yes, sitting.

New York Giants running back Wayne Gallman coughed up the ball with 58 seconds to play, but officials ruled he secured it just enough to maintain possession after he literally sat on it. The Giants held on for the final minute of the game, winning 23-19 Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The NFC East title will be decided by a “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Washington is in if it ties or wins. The Giants (6-10) will advance if Washington loses.

Neither the Giants nor the Cowboys played a clean game. Dallas’ offense stalle

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

d repeatedly, and its defense let up two early touchdowns.

But head coach Mike McCarthy will shoulder the blame for two questionable decisions.

On third-and-16, with 7:02 to play and the Giants up by 1, Giants receiver Dante Pettis did not appear to secure the catch on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Jones. Dallas chose not to challenge the play that immediately preceded the Giants’ 50-yard field goal. That, and the decision not to go for 2 after running back Ezekiel Elliott’s third-quarter touchdown, doomed the Cowboys.

Neither team converted a third down for the first 24 minutes of the game, and ball security made a difference. The Cowboys’ final drive ended on quarterback Andy Dalton’s interception in the end zone.

The Giants, despite an interception and two fumbles (one lost), terrorized the Cowboys offensive line and sacked Dalton six times — hitting him a total of nine times. Dalton’s pressure prohibited the Cowboys from jelling in the passing game as they had a week earlier in their 37-17 win over the Eagles.

The Giants snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. The Cowboys, finishing their season at 6-10, snapped a three-game winning streak.

NFC East eyes will turn to the Sunday night game to determine whether a six- or seven-win team advances to the playoffs.

McCarthy’s eyes will turn to his second season in Dallas after an underwhelming first.


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Wisconsin drops trophy after beating Wake Forest in Duke May’s Bowl




 The Wisconsin Badgers captured the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and the trophy that came along with it.

And then they broke it.

While dancing around to celebrate his team’s 42-28 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday, quarterback Graham Mertz dropped the football-shaped piece of Lenox crystal, leaving it shattered on the floor of the locker room after it fell off its base.

“We just wanted everybody to have a piece of that trophy,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst joked.

That would seem appropriate.

Mertz accounted for three touchdowns and Wisconsin turned four second-half interceptions, all by different players, into 21 points to turn a close game into a near-rout of the Demon Deacons. Five players scored touchdowns for the Badgers.

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, threw for 130 yards and ran for two short TDs as Wisconsin (4-3) finished a rocky 2020 season on a high note.

“Yeah, I dropped it,” Mertz said sheepishly. “That’s on me. It happened.”

The Badgers might be willing to forgive him.

With the game tied at 21 late in the third quarter, Noah Burks intercepted Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman on a pass in the flat when the intended receiver failed to turn his head around. Burks returned the ball 41 yards to set up a 14-yard scoring strike from Mertz to Mason Stokke on a wheel route, giving the Badgers their first lead.

Hartman, who had thrown only one interception all season, was picked off on the next three possessions as well.

Scott Nelson had a 60-yard interception return and Collin Wilder returned a pick 72 yards to set up short TD runs that gave the Badgers a 42-21 lead, resulting in Hartman getting benched. Jack Sanborn had 11 tackles and an interception and was named MVP of the game.

“It felt like one led to the other,” Sanborn said. “After three picks, we said, ‘Collin you have to get one’ – and then Collin went and got one.”

Sanborn said the Badgers picked up on some of Hartman’s tendencies.

“Throughout the game, similar concepts coming up,” Sanborn said. “We kind of knew where he wanted to throw the ball. He was making throws early in the game. But we got a tell on where he wanted to go with the ball.”

Hartman finished 20 of 37 passing for 318 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

“All of a sudden the dam opened the floodgates and wow, I never thought we would lose a game like that,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

Clawson said he felt Hartman was telegraphing his passes.

“I think he held on to targets too long and Wisconsin broke on his eyes and his arm actions,” Clawson said.

Wake Forest (4-5) outgained Wisconsin 518-266 on offense, but the Badgers had 176 return yards off interceptions.

Hartman threw three touchdown passes to Jacquarii Roberson to give the Demon Deacons a 21-14 lead early in the third quarter against the nation’s No. 1-ranked defense.

The game was played in front of no fans other than family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Manchester City’s ‘compromised’ Covid-19 security bubble forces postponement of game at Everton




An uptick in positive Covid-19 cases at Manchester City has forced the postponement of the club’s English Premier League game at Everton on Monday.

“After the latest round of Covid-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day,” said City in a statement on their website.
“With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond.
“Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.”
On Christmas Day, City confirmed that forward Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker, as well as two members of staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
Monday’s game had been slated to kickoff at 8 p.m. local time at Goodison Park in Liverpool.
An alternative date and kickoff time has yet to be decided, according to Everton.
The Premier League says further testing will be conducted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace and Leicester City shared a 1-1 draw on Monday as the Premier League’s intense festive schedule of matches continued.
Kelechi Iheanacho missed a first-half penalty for the visitors as second place Leicester, who had drawn 2-2 with Manchester United on Saturday, looked to close the gap on Premier League leader Liverpool.
Wilfried Zaha’s superb finish then gave Palace the lead, before Harvey Barnes’ low shot late on secured Leicester a point, moving Brendan Rodgers’ side on to 29 points, three behind the Premier League defending champion.

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The challenges COVID-19 poses for youth sports




“Hello everyone, after a long time of reflection our son has decided to leave the club.”

This is the Whatsapp message that a young football player’s parents wrote in a parents’ group of a regional league football team recently. That’s the highest-level of football in Germany for players under the age of 17. The 14-year-old, who was the best striker on his team, decided to give up the sport. The decision came as a bombshell for both teammates and parents – including his own.

Professor Hans-Georg Predel of the German Sport University Cologne says the lack of training and play due to COVID-19 restrictions is likely to have been a factor in the youngster’s decision.

“This could also mean an end to his sporting career,” he told DW.

However, according to the professor, who is a researcher in physical activity and high-performance exercise in childhood and adolescence and as well as in biological adaptations in high-performance athletes, behavioral patterns among 10 and 18-year-olds are quite inconsistent.

“Young people… are searching for their personal path in life, and this implies a great willingness to try out new things,” Predel said.

COVID-19 has disrupted the sporting paths of young athletes all over the world, with many experiencing more than one lockdown, forcing training, leagues and tournaments to be placed on hold.

A lost generation

In Kenya, sports came to a complete standstill from the first lockdown in March until the beginning of October, when athletes in individual sports were able to return to training. In football, the Kenyan Premier League season only resumed play last month.

But young athletes weren’t able to return to the pitch even when the schools reopened in October – and this poses a huge problem.

“We basically lost almost a year, like a generation. And we in the sport industry know how critical it is for a certain age group to remain active and continue to train,” Kenyan sport journalist Carol Radull told DW, adding that this has also impacted the development of young players.

Unlike in Germany, there is no developed system of sports clubs in Kenya, so youth sports are the domain of the school system. Academies are reserved for those whose parents have the necessary means. So, according to Radull, the only path for an athlete to get noticed by professional scouts is through events and tournaments organized through the Kenyan school system, which includes sports like football, field hockey and swimming on its curriculum.

Germany’s new solutions

In Germany, which is currently grappling with a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the number of competitions taking place in youth sports has been drastically reduced.

“This is dramatic for the players because it is completely new to them. Before the pandemic their lives were completely different,” Friederike Kromp, head coach of Germany’s under-17 girls’ football team told DW.

Youth national teams draw their players from amateur clubs, via Germany’s regional associations.

To keep young players motivated during the lockdown, Kromp and coaches such as Nate Weiss, technical skills and individual trainer at FC Nuremberg, have developed virtual training sessions designed not only to improve football skills, but also focusing on issues like mental stability, social media and diet.

The sessions, which were originally developed exclusively for youth national team players, are now being made available to other youths in under the DFB’s (German Football Assocation) talent-development program known as the Fussball Stützpunkt. Thousands of young players from more than 300 high-performance centers around the country have been participating in the sessions.

“We started to bring the players together via Zoom or other video platforms to train together. Everyone can follow the training sessions from their own living rooms or backyards, and it’s worked very well,” Kromp said.

“We have to try to make the best of things and motivate the youngsters. We need to be there for them and also give them a reason for hope.”

Interaction inhibited

In the United States, youth sports resumed when schools reopened after the summer break. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to reduce the risk of infection were a relief for some youth sports clubs but also criticized by many.

While major youth soccer tournaments such as the Youth Soccer National League, the largest youth sports organization in the country, has postponed events in some states, others still allow sports activities.

Sporting Omaha FC established the first girls’ soccer development academy and remains the only one in Nebraska that has the highest level of play in youth soccer under the US Soccer Development Academy. The Omaha FC girls’ academy provides young talents with an environment in which they can develop their game. Its aim is to empower the young players to reach their full potential. Its tournaments regularly draw dozens of American scouts and Division 1 college coaches. Its staff are also involved in strategic planning of youth development and competitive platforms.

Alex Mason, director of coaching at Sporting Omaha FC, where training with masks is mandatory, told DW that “it is really hard for young players to read facial expressions when the coaches are wearing masks. So there are a lot of interactions that are wasted, and we are missing out with our younger players.”

Mason also says that the pandemic has had an impact in participation, particularly at the recreational level.

“I am not sure if we are going to lose an entire generation of players, but I know just from the recreation point of view, there has been a dropoff in registrations of at least 30%.”

The day after the pandemic will come 

While youth coaches, sports clubs and sports ministries look for solutions, some believe this year’s state of limbo will have long-term effects in amateur sport and national programs.

But Kromp, the German under-17 girl’s coach, argues that there are ways that these effects can be mitigated and she says it’s also important to recognize that nothing that none of the work youngsters do during a lockdown will be a waste of time.

“The day after the pandemic is over will come,” she stressed.

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