Tag Archives: Game

Arizona, Stanford carry Pac-12 banner in women’s title game

The last time that Tara VanDerveer and Stanford were playing for a national championship, the Pac-12 had just 10 schools and the Cardinal were the standard bearer for the conference.

Now 11 years later, the Pac-12 is on top of the women’s basketball world with the Cardinal facing Arizona on Sunday night for the title. The conference is guaranteed its first champion since the hall of fame coach and the Cardinal won their last title in 1992.

“I’m really proud of the Pac-12 to have two teams in the national championship game,” VanDerveer said. “You know, this is not something that a lot of people could have imagined … 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. And it’s really, really exciting.”

Stanford was last in the title game in 2010, losing to UConn in the Alamodome — the same building the Cardinal will be playing in on Sunday night. The conference became the Pac-12 a year later after expansion. The league has had six different schools in the Final Four since 2013, but none reached the title game until Friday night when both Stanford and Arizona advanced.

“In the Pac-12 we’ve been saying all along we have the best teams in the country and to have two Pac-12 teams speaks for itself,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “Stanford won the Pac-12 championship and we were second. Both of us in the Final Four and championship game, it means a lot for our conference.”

To get to Sunday night’s game the Cardinal held on to beat South Carolina 66-65 on a basket by Haley Jones with 32 seconds left Friday night. After Jones’ shot but the Cardinal up, Stanford survived two last-second misses by the Gamecocks.

Arizona didn’t need any last-second karma to beat the Huskies 69-59. Wildcats All-America Aari McDonald scored 26 points and the team played stifling defence to put the clamps on UConn

“No one thought we’d win, no one thought we’d be here,” Barnes said. “We don’t care. We believed in each other. We believed, our team believed.”

McDonald has been a huge reason why. The 5-foot-6 guard, who is lightning quick, is one of the rare two-way players in the game who can impact contests on both ends of the court.

Sunday night’s game will pit two teams from west of the Mississippi against each other for the first time since 1986.

A few tidbits to look for in Sunday’s women’s title game:

Third time the charm?

Arizona lost twice to Stanford during the regular season, but both teams are much improved from their last meeting on Feb. 22 which the Cardinal won 62-48.

“What’s on our side is it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” Barnes said. “We’re a lot better and so is Stanford. Speaking about us, we’re shooting the ball better, defending better and playing better basketball than when we played them.”

Barnes has turned to VanDerveer many times over the course of the season for advice. The Arizona coach’s respect goes back to her playing days for the Wildcats in the late 1990s.

“She’s someone who will always be honest, and it’s never honesty to benefit Stanford,” Barnes said. “She’s someone who wants to support you. She’s very secure and wants to help women develop and wants to grow the game. She’s an advocate for women’s basketball and I have the most respect for her.”

Growing the game

Barnes became the fourth Black woman to lead a team to the championship game, joining C. Vivian Stringer, Carolyn Peck and Dawn Staley.

Pokey Chatman guided LSU to the Final Four in 2005 and 2006.

“It just means the world. I think I represent a lot of different things, but representation matters, opportunities matter. When we’re given opportunity, we can flourish,” Barnes said. “I was given an opportunity by an (athletic director) that believed in a young coach that had only been coaching five years. This is only my fifth-year as a head coach. I was a five-year assistant, a 13-year pro.

“Someone believed in me, saw something in me that maybe I didn’t even see in myself at the time.”

There have also been two Black men to have guide teams to the women’s Final Four. Quentin Hillsman led Syracuse to the title game in 2016 and Winthrop McGriff took Cheney to the national semifinals in 1984.

WATCH | How the trade deadline affected Canadian NBA stars:

On the latest episode of North Courts, Vivek, Jevohn, and Meghan discuss Canadians in the NBA, how the trade deadline affects them, and the first ever all-female NBA broadcast. 16:07

Only 13 Black women were head coaches at Power Five programs this season. Barnes said there is a perception that female Black coaches are just recruiters since a majority of their players are Black.

“We can recruit but we’re not only recruiters,” Barnes said before offering advice to other Black female coaches “Don’t allow yourself as a female, as a black female, to be pigeonholed into one thing. Learn, work on your trade, study, pull someone else along as a woman, as a woman of colour. Aspire big, do big things. Don’t let yourself be pigeonholed in one thing.”

Canadians playing in final

Two Canadians will be playing on Sunday’s final as Stanford has Toronto’s Alyssa Jerome on its roster. Arizona, meanwhile, has Shaina Pellington of Pickering, Ont. 

Jerome has played in 27 games and started one this season and is averaging 1.6 points. She has appeared in three games in the tournament but has yet to record a point.

Pellington, meanwhile, has had a much bigger role as she has played in 26 games including seven post-season games. In the post-season, she is averaging 4.3 points in 14 minutes per game.

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MLB moving 2021 all-star game out of Atlanta in response to voting restrictions

Atlanta lost Major League Baseball’s summer All-Star Game on Friday over the league’s objections to sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws that critics — including the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola — have condemned as being too restrictive.

The decision to pull the July 13 game from Atlanta’s Truist Park amounts to the first economic backlash against Georgia for the voting law that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed into law March 25.

Kemp has insisted the law’s critics have mischaracterized what it does, yet GOP lawmakers adopted the changes largely in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. The law includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft from Atlanta after discussions with individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year, the commissioner said in a statement. A new ballpark for the events wasn’t immediately revealed.

Manfred said he also spoke with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which at the time of the commissioner’s decision said it had still not taken a stance.

“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB draft,” Manfred said. “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”

Kemp called it a “knee-jerk decision” that means “cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”

“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from (President) Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” Kemp said in a statement, referring to the Democratic candidate whom he narrowly defeated in the 2018 election. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied.”

Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston, a powerful Republican who backed the voting law changes, said the baseball league’s decision “robs Georgians of a special celebration of our national pastime free of politics.”

Like other Republicans in the state, Ralston vowed to stand behind the new law, which adds strict identification requirements for voting absentee by mail, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to hand out food or water to voters waiting in line, among many other provisions.

Georgia Republicans say changes were needed to maintain voter confidence in the election system. Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately affect communities of colour. On Wednesday, two of Georgia’s most prominent business leaders sided with the law’s opponents.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian labeled the law “unacceptable,” while Coca-Cola chief executive James Quincey called the legislation a “step backward.”

Atlanta team ‘disappointed by decision’ 

The Atlanta baseball team issued a statement Friday saying the team is disappointed by Manfred’s decision.

“We are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city,” the team said. “The [Atlanta baseball] organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is to guide the National League All-Star team, applauded MLB for moving the game from Georgia.

“I think in a world now where people want and need to be heard — and in this particular case, people of colour — for Major League Baseball to listen and do something about it, to be proactive, it sets a tone,” said Roberts, the son of a Black father and Japanese mother.

Abrams, who has championed voting rights since her loss to Kemp, blasted the new voting law. The Democrat is being closely watched to see if she seeks a rematch against Kemp in 2022.

“Georgia Republicans must renounce the terrible damage they have caused to our voting system and the harm they have inflicted on our economy,” Abrams said.

Heated political divide

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said she supports MLB’s decision. Atlanta will no doubt share in the economic loss, though the Braves’ home stadium is now located outside the city, in suburban Cobb County.

“Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All-Star Game from Georgia is likely the first of many dominoes to fall until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” Bottoms said in a statement.

Some Democrats from the Georgia county where the game was to be held said they oppose MLB’s move. Lisa Cupid, the Black chairwoman of the Cobb County Commission, said she urged the league to stay rather than harm hotels and other businesses still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, a Democrat whose district includes the stadium, added: “I don’t know who Major League Baseball feels they are punishing. The governor, from his statement, has made clear he doesn’t feel he is being punished.”

MLB still plans on saluting Hank Aaron

The relocation of high-profile sports events from cities in response to social issues has a long history in the U.S.

The NFL originally awarded the 1993 Super Bowl to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, but decided in March 1991 to move it to Pasadena, California, after the state failed to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday. Arizona became the last state to adopt an MLK Holiday when voters approved it in November 1992.

The NBA first scheduled its 2017 All-Star Game at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, then shifted it in July 2016 because of its objections to a North Carolina law that limited anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The law was partially repealed in 2017, and the 2019 All-Star Game was held in Charlotte.

NCAA officials decided in 2001 to ban awarding championship sites in advance to states that displayed the Confederate flag but did not alter events whose sites were determined by seeding or ranking. That was expanded last June to prevent any NCAA championship event from being played where the flag had a prominent presence. Mississippi’s governor signed a law less than two weeks later to retire the flag.

WATCH | Hank Aaron, home run king who fought racism, dies at 86:

Sports legend Hank Aaron has died at age 86. The baseball hall-of-famer, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, is being remembered for his skill and his perseverance in the face of hate. 2:10

Manfred said despite the change of venue, MLB still plans to use the All-Star Game this year to honour Hank Aaron, the Atlanta’s Hall of Famer and former career home run champion who died on Jan. 22 at age 86.

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, a former teammate of Aaron’s, applauded the move and said the late outfielder “always had the rights of the people in the forefront of his mind and in his heart.”

“This is what Hank would have liked, even if it was his town,” Baker told reporters.

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Canucks game against Flames called off with 2 players, coach in COVID-19 protocols

The NHL’s Canadian-based North Division has been impacted by COVID-19 for the second time in less than two weeks.

The league postponed Wednesday night’s game between the Canucks and Flames after a second Vancouver player and a member of the team’s coaching staff were added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

Canucks forward Adam Gaudette, who was pulled from Tuesday’s practice following a positive test result, was added to the list that afternoon.

Vancouver and Calgary were preparing as if Wednesday’s game would still go ahead — both teams held morning skate’s and virtual media availabilities at Rogers Arena — but the league announced its decision in a press release roughly 90 minutes before puck drop.

The NHL, which said it would provide a further update Thursday, added the call was made by medical teams from the league, NHL Players’ Association and Canucks.

A player on the COVID-19 protocol list has not necessarily tested positive.

The Montreal Canadiens had four games postponed — the first contests scratched in the North this season — last week when forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were added to the protocol list.

Those postponements, which included the shuttering of the Canadiens’ practice facility, forced the rescheduling of 11 games.

Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said at the time one of his players tested positive for a coronavirus variant, which precipitated the shutdown. Kotkaniemi was removed from protocol Tuesday when the Canadiens returned to the ice against the Edmonton Oilers, but Armia remains on the list.

Canucks head coach Travis Green would not say following Wednesday’s morning skate if Gaudette had tested positive for a variant.

“I’m not going to get into personal stuff with Adam Gaudette,” he said. “We’re preparing to play, and planning to do so.”

Green added his club felt they were in the clear with just one positive test following some nervous hours.

“[Tuesday] when you get the news, you’re always wondering about it,” he said. “Last night we had a pretty good idea we were good to go this morning.

“We’ve tried to just stay focused on that task, and let the people that advise us on the protocols let us know if there’s anything else changing.”

42 games now postponed

The NHL’s truncated 56-game schedule has now seen 42 contests postponed because of COVID-19.

The league’s protocols require players and staff to be tested daily. Any time an individual’s initial test comes back positive, the lab does a second test on the initial sample.

If the second test is negative, a second sample is collected. But if that sample returns a positive result, it’s considered to be a “confirmed positive.”

The league requires individuals with positive tests to self isolate for 10 days, and for close contacts to self isolate for two weeks.

The 24-year-old Gaudette has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 33 games this season. The Canucks were also missing winger Jake Virtanen at Tuesday’s practice, who Green said “wasn’t feeling well so he stayed home.”

Vancouver and Calgary are tied for fifth in the division with identical 16-18-3 records, five points back of Montreal for the fourth and final playoff spot, although Montreal has a big advantage with five games in hand.

The Flames are scheduled to visit the Edmonton Oilers on Friday before opening a four-game homestand against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Canucks beginning Sunday.

The Canucks were coming off a six-day break heading into Wednesday before getting ready to embark on a seven-game road trip set to begin Saturday in Edmonton.

That’s all now very much up in the air.

Vancouver forward J.T. Miller and defenceman Jordie Benn missed multiple games in January after being placed into protocol.

“It’s not ideal,” Miller said Wednesday morning. “Everybody’s trying to do the right things to not have this situation happen.

“Hopefully we can minimize the damage here, and hopefully Gauds isn’t feeling too poorly.”

WHL Kelowna in 14-day quarantine

Also Wednesday, the Western Hockey League announced the Kelowna Rockets have had all activities suspended for a minimum of 14 days following six additional positive COVID-19 tests, taking the total to seven within the club after a positive test one day earlier.

The WHL says the positive COVID-19 test results belong to two staff members and four players.

In accordance with the WHL’s return-to-play protocol, the Rockets have immediately isolated and are being tested, and anyone with close contact has been instructed to self-quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days.

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Oilers-Canadiens postponed for COVID-19, 1st all-Canadian game to be shut down

The NHL has postponed Monday night’s game in Montreal between the Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers, making it the first contest in the all-Canadian North Division to be shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.

The league announced the postponement shortly before the scheduled 7 p.m. ET opening faceoff after Montreal forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were placed on the league’s COVID protocol list.

The league said in a statement it will provide more information on Tuesday.

Showing up on the list doesn’t necessarily mean an individual has tested positive. Players can go into protocol for unconfirmed results if they’re deemed a close contact of a positive case or if a quarantine is required.

There was no immediate word on a makeup date for the postponed game. Messages left with both teams weren’t immediately returned.

The Oilers were looking to move into sole possession of first place in the North Division in the opener of a five-game road trip.

They are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were idle Monday, with 42 points. Toronto has two games in hand on the Oilers.

Edmonton and Montreal are scheduled to play Wednesday at the Bell Centre and again on Friday.

The Oilers have won three straight games and are 18-7-0 in their last 25. Montreal has earned at least a point in eight of its last 10 games.

The Canadiens are five points behind Toronto with a game in hand.

There have been 38 games postponed this season because of protocol. The shortened 56-game campaign began Jan. 13.

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Microsoft Now Testing Dual-Screen Gaming in Xbox Game Pass on Surface Duo

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Microsoft is continuing its quest to make Xbox Game Pass a first-class contender for gaming. The company has now introduced support for dual-screen gaming on devices like the Surface Duo.

Here’s how the feature works: Fire up Game Pass on a device such as the dual-screened Surface Duo, and your game controls will be mapped to the bottom screen, with the top reserved for displaying your actual game. Developers can tailor the way controls are displayed on the lower panel, allowing different games to offer different buttons or control layouts.

Games can also support the Surface Duo’s built-in gyro, Windows Central reports, allowing your view in-game to rotate when you move the device. For now, this feature is only available in beta, but it’ll hopefully roll out across the main service soon.

The Surface Duo hasn’t reviewed particularly well and likely hasn’t sold all that well, either. I doubt Microsoft’s goal is to specifically appeal to the dozens of potential customers who both own a Surface Duo and want to subscribe to a streaming service.

What Microsoft wants to do is make Xbox Game Pass the accessible way to turn any mobile device into a gaming platform, even niche products. With Xbox Game Pass, the Surface Duo becomes a portable Xbox. Moving controls to the second display doesn’t fix all of the problems with touchscreen gaming and the lack of feedback is still a likely deal-breaker for some, but a second-screen device is easier to imagine using for Xbox Game Pass than a conventional smartphone.

Offering this feature on a Surface device is also an example of hardware/software synergy that companies like Apple often lean on in their marketing. I don’t think Microsoft is going to try and position Surface as a gaming brand, but if this capability works as advertised, the Surface Duo just picked up a neat feature. Future devices from other manufacturers should also be able to take advantage of this capability, which gives Microsoft a certain claim to ubiquity and flexibility that other services don’t offer yet.

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Microsoft Just Added 20 Bethesda Games to Xbox Game Pass

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Microsoft’s Game Pass has been around for a while, offering a range of reasonably popular games with a single monthly subscription. Game Pass is about to get a big boost in its game catalog courtesy of the Xbox maker’s recent acquisition of Bethesda Softworks. Starting now, you can get instant access to 20 popular Bethesda games on Game Pass

Game Pass starts at $ 10 per month, but new subscribers can get a $ 1 trial month right now. Before today’s additions, there were already about 100 games available on Game Pass, including ARK, Gears 5, and No Man’s Sky. Here are all the new Bethesda games coming to Xbox Game Pass. 

  • Dishonored
  • Dishonored 2
  • Doom
  • Doom 2
  • Doom 64
  • Doom 3
  • Doom Eternal
  • Fallout New Vegas
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout 76
  • Prey
  • Rage 2
  • The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind
  • The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
  • The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Evil Within
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order
  • Wolfenstein The Old Blood
  • Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Game Pass works on Xbox consoles, PC, and mobile. However, you won’t be able to play all of them everywhere. All of them work on Xbox and PC, but you’ll have to choose one or the other when you sign up for Game Pass at the $ 10 level. There’s a $ 15 version that includes both console and PC, as well as mobile access on Android. Only 16 of the games support mobile, which is accomplished via xCloud game streaming. As usual, Microsoft stresses that xCloud is still a beta product, and you’ll need a very reliable internet connection to play on your phone. When installed and played on the Xbox Series X or S, several of the titles will benefit from the new FPS Boost feature. 

There’s always the concern with “all you can play” services that something you like will end up leaving. We all know this pain from video streaming platforms like Netflix. But because Microsoft now owns these Bethesda titles, it’s unlikely they’ll ever leave Game Pass.

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There are no cracks in Mikael Kingsbury’s game

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Death. Taxes. And Mikael Kingsbury.

The most inevitable force in winter Olympic sports struck again. A day after winning the third moguls world title of his incomparable career, Canadian freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury completed the double today, capturing his third world title in dual moguls — a head-to-head version of the sport that is not in the Olympics.

Kingsbury’s latest victories, at the freestyle skiing world championships in Kazakhstan, burnish his status as one of the most dominant individual-sport athletes of all time. In addition to his six world titles, the 28-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., owns an Olympic gold medal and a Lou Marsh Award (both from 2018). He has a record 65 World Cup wins (45 in moguls, 20 in dual moguls) and has captured nine consecutive World Cup moguls season titles.

That streak is about to end, but only because of two freak occurrences — a serious injury and a global pandemic. The latter caused a shortened World Cup season with only three moguls competitions (usually there are seven or eight) and Kingsbury missed the first two after fracturing his spine while practising for the opener in December. He made it back for the final stop two months later and won both the moguls and dual moguls event in Utah. After his two wins at the world championships, he can make it a 5-for-5 season if he competes in Sunday’s dual moguls event in Kazakhstan. At this point, victory is so commonplace for Kingsbury that it’s more newsworthy when he doesn’t win. He has essentially solved his sport.

Kingsbury is also using his voice. Last week, he sent an open letter to Quebec Premier François Legault calling for the provincial government to allow sports to return to schools as the pandemic shows signs of weakening. “I am worried that young people are lost,” Kingsbury wrote. “That they are abandoning sport in favour of screens.” He added in an interview with CBC Sports: “Having grown up skiing and playing baseball with my friends, sport is a motivator. A source of meaning.” Read more from the letter and the interview here.

The freestyle ski world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s and women’s aerials events. Watch them live from 4-5:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

WATCH | Kingsbury soars to dual moguls title:

Mikaël Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que. followed up on his moguls world championship title on Monday with a dual moguls title on Tuesday. It’s the sixth world championship gold medal of his career. 3:50


Rhéal Cormier had one of the best seasons ever by a Canadian pitcher. Cormier, who died yesterday of cancer at the age of 53, had a very nice career as a reliever. He played 16 big-league seasons, including two for the Montreal Expos, and appeared in more games than any Canadian pitcher but Paul Quantrill. Cormier never made it to a World Series, but he pitched in the 1999 American League Championship Series for Boston. He also represented Canada in two Olympics, a Pan Am Games and a World Baseball Classic. He made an estimated $ 24 million US in salary and finished with a career ERA+ of 105, indicating he was about five per cent better than his average contemporary. But in 2003, Cormier was magical. In 65 appearances that year for Philadelphia, he posted a 1.70 ERA and allowed only 54 hits in 84 innings. His ERA+ was 235. Read more about Cormier’s life and career here.

Two teams are still undefeated at the Brier. Jason Gunnlaugson’s Manitoba rink improved to 4-0 and sits alone atop Pool A after beating the Northwest Territories today. Four-time champion Kevin Koe’s wild-card team tops Pool B at 5-0 and has the day off. Read more about today’s results here and watch That Curling Show with Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones live at 7:30 p.m. ET on YouTube or the CBC Olympics Twitter and Facebook pages.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held without foreign fans, a Japanese news agency reported. Not a huge surprise considering the pandemic is still going on and Japan only started vaccinating people three weeks ago. Also, a recent survey in the country found three quarters of respondents did not want international visitors to attend the Games. An official announcement could come as soon as next week, according to the Kyodo news agency, and a decision on how many domestic spectators to allow into venues is expected in April. Read more here.

The Canadian Open golf tournament was cancelled for the second straight year. The PGA Tour is mostly back to normal now, but cross-border travel is not. That’s the main reason why organizers called off the June 9-13 tournament at St. George’s in Toronto. They said they’re working toward getting the Canadian Open back on the tour schedule next year, but no date or location was announced. Read more about the cancellation here.

Dak Prescott finally got his money. When it’s time for a new contract, any decent NFL starting quarterback can get his team to pony up pretty much whatever he wants, within reason. So it was strange that Prescott, who’s one of the better QBs in the league, had to haggle with Dallas owner Jerry Jones for two years to get the long-term deal he deserves (though the gruesome, season-ending leg injury Prescott suffered in October probably complicated things). But Jones finally caved yesterday, giving Prescott a four-year contract that includes $ 126 million US guaranteed and an NFL-record $ 66 million signing bonus. At $ 40 million per season, Dak’s deal pays him the second-highest average salary in the league, behind Patrick Mahomes ($ 45M) and just ahead of Houston’s (for now) Deshaun Watson ($ 39M). Read more about it here.

And finally…

The world’s oldest person is preparing to take part in the Tokyo Olympic torch relay. 118(!)-year-old Kane Tanaka, who’s currently living through her second global pandemic, would be the oldest Olympic torchbearer by a dozen years. She plans to cover most of her 100-metre leg in a wheelchair pushed by members of her family, but she wants to walk the final few steps and pass the torch to the next person. Tanaka has been alive for 49 of the 51 Olympics (Summer and Winter) held since the modern Games began in 1896. When Japan last hosted a Summer Olympics, in 1964, she was 61. Read more neat facts about Tanaka (she worked until she was 103!) in this CNN story.

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How approval of Johnson & Johnson’s ‘one and done’ COVID-19 vaccine could change Canada’s vaccination game

A one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is now approved for use in Canada — and vaccine experts say the shot from Johnson & Johnson could give a major boost to countrywide vaccination efforts while offering a “real solution” to hasten the end of the pandemic.

Health Canada authorized its use and released details during a Friday morning announcement.

The vaccine, made by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is a non-replicating viral vector option and, unlike the three other vaccines previously approved for Canadian use, was tested during clinical trials as a single shot. 

So far, Canada is expecting 10 million doses, with options to purchase up to 28 million more if necessary, with most of those shots set to arrive by the end of September.

From a logistical standpoint, Toronto-based infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the benefits are clear.

“You can vaccinate more people in a shorter period of time,” he said. “You don’t have to clog up the vaccine centres with people getting their second dose — it’s one and done.”

The storage requirements are also less stringent than the early freezer requirements for the two mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, with Johnson & Johnson estimating its single-dose option should remain stable for two years at -20° C — and can be stored for at least three months in most standard refrigerators.

Wondering how each of the leading coronavirus vaccines compares? Click here for a closer look at the vaccines Canada is betting on to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“You can way more easily get a vaccine like this into primary care clinics and pharmacies, which means that you can distribute it so much more broadly,” said Bogoch, who is also a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force.

That’s good news in this country and beyond, said Dr. Zain Chagla, a Hamilton-based infectious disease specialist and professor at McMaster University.

“In remote areas of Canada, it’s a big vaccine in that sense that it’s easy to transport and get around, and it’s big for the rest of the world,” he said. 

“This is a vaccine that could go into mass vaccine clinics in low- and middle-income countries that could be stored on the back of a motorcycle to make it into a very, very remote setting. That is very, very different than anything we have in that sense.”

WATCH | J&J vaccine good for less accessible, marginalized communities, doctor says:

As a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1:23

85% effective at stopping severe disease

But where the vaccine excels at convenience, it may fall short on overall efficacy — though there are a lot of factors at play, and it’s crucial to note the shot is proving highly effective at reducing cases of serious illness.

According to February briefing documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Johnson & Johnson’s shot was both safe and effective in clinical trials, where it reduced the risk of COVID-19 and prevented PCR-test confirmed cases at least 14 days after vaccination.

A month earlier, the company had announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people.

That effectiveness varied from 72 per cent in the United States to 66 per cent in Latin America and 57 per cent in South Africa, where a new variant has spread.

In January, Johnson & Johnson announced its vaccine was 66 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 against multiple variants in a global trial involving nearly 44,000 people. (Phill Magakoe/AFP/Getty Images)

That’s in contrast to the even more powerful protection witnessed in clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which showed efficacy levels — in terms of preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection — of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively after two doses.

Those trials, however, took place before the rise of several concerning variants of this virus. Each company also tested for slightly different outcomes, meaning the efficacy levels aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons.

On Friday, Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco likened it to comparing the scores of golfers who teed off during a calm moment to those who teed off when “winds were howling.”

“While it’s hard to make precise adjustment,” he said in a tweet, “it’s clear that equally good play will result in different scores.”

WATCH | Doctor who helped create Johnson & Johnson vaccine talks about its efficacy:

Dr. Dan Barouch, director, Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine he helped to create is highly effective against COVID-19 and new variants of concern. 5:11

Crucially, Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose option did prove 85 per cent effective overall when it came to stopping severe cases of the disease specifically.

The company’s main study also showed that 28 days or more after vaccination, the shot 100 per cent prevented hospitalizations and deaths.

“I think people discount how much practicality means to this vaccine rollout,” Chagla said. “You do see severe illness going down with this vaccine. You see hospitalizations coming down with this vaccine.”

One-dose could offer ‘real solution’

Virologist and vaccinologist Alyson Kelvin, who is working on Canadian COVID-19 vaccine development at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac research institute, said for all vaccine developers, a safe and effective single-dose option has been the ultimate goal.

“Because people will be more interested in taking a vaccine if they don’t have to go back for their second shot, and which means that a vaccine will be more effective at getting to that community immunity that we need,” she said.

Like Chagla, she’s not alarmed by a slightly lower overall efficacy level.

“The goal of the vaccine is to protect people. Keeping them out of hospitals, keeping them from succumbing to disease,” she said.

And Chagla stressed that ultimately, this one-dose option could offer a “real solution” that helps countries like Canada tackle this year-long pandemic and alleviate the current burden on the health-care system from a virus that’s still widespread.

“It may not be the final strategy for vaccination,” he said. “But it’s a pretty good ‘right now’ strategy for vaccination.”

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5 Raptors ruled out for rescheduled game vs. Pistons due to COVID-19 protocols

A greatly reduced Raptors team will host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in Toronto’s temporary home of Tampa, Fla.

The team announced Tuesday that starters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are out as part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as are Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn.

Jalen Harris and recently signed big man Donta Hall join the team from its G League affiliate, Raptors 905.

The game was originally slated for Tuesday at Amalie Arena but was postponed due to what the league said was “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bulls was also postponed.

The Pistons’ plane was delayed more than two hours leaving Detroit as the Raptors awaited the green light from the NBA.

The Raptors’ postponements bring to 31 the league’s total number of games moved because at least one team would not have enough players eligible to play this season. 

“It’s the emotional stress of having colleagues that potentially, obviously, can be sick,” general manager Bobby Webster said of the current feeling on the team.

“Everyone’s walking a bit on eggshells here in the locker room, and you can’t necessarily be as friendly. … The basketball will go on. We’ll play the games, but just to maintain everybody’s belonging and familiarity is really important.”

Toronto had managed to largely avoid disruptions from the global pandemic until now, despite playing their home games in Florida — a COVID-19 hotbed — due to Canada’s border restrictions and health and safety protocols in Ontario.

The Raptors were able to do some on-court work Tuesday but have had “multiple days of no new cases,” Webster said.

“It’s been a tough couple of days,” Webster said. “To get to here and be able to practice, we had to clear a number of hurdles.”

Nick Nurse, five members of his staff and Siakam were all sidelined for Friday’s game against Houston. Assistant Sergio Scariolo stepped in to guide the Raptors to a 122-111 win and will take on the same role Wednesday with Nurse forced to sit out again.

“We will try to do our best for the guys who won’t be able to be with us tomorrow,” said Scariolo, who has been in contact with Nurse regularly throughout this process.

Assistants Adrian Griffin, Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie are all still sidelined under health and safety protocols, while Webster said one other assistant who coached Friday is now unavailable. He didn’t reveal who, but it would be either Jim Sann, Mark Tyndale or Jamaal Magloire.

The Raptors at least have some time off coming up. Their last scheduled game before the NBA all-star break is Thursday at Boston.

Toronto tips off the second half of the season March 11 against the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

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GPUs Used For Crypto Mining Might Lose Game Performance, Long-Term

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One question that’s come up from time to time in gaming is whether older GPUs get slower over time. ExtremeTech has examined this question before with respect to software updates, meaning we checked whether older GPUs lost performance as a result of later driver updates that were not as well optimized for older GPU architectures. While our driver tests found no evidence of software-driven slowdowns, we didn’t check the impact of whether aging GPU hardware could impact performance.

A new investigation of an 18 month-old RTX 2080 Ti claims to have uncovered evidence that an old GPU will run more slowly than a newer card, based on a comparison of two (we think) MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming X Trio GPUs. Unfortunately, based on available information, there’s no way to confirm that conclusion. At best, what YouTube channel Testing Games has established is that long-term mining might slow down a GPU.

At first glance, the findings seem equivocal. Testing Games runs a suite of games, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Battlefield V, Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 4, Horzion: Zero Dawn, Kingdom Come Deliverance, Mafia Definitive Edition, and Red Dead Redemption. The MSI Gaming X Trio GPU card used for crypto mining for the past 18 months is typically about 10 percent slower than the new MSI Gaming X Trio GPU that hasn’t been used for mining. Spot checks of various games show that the used RTX 2080 Ti runs 15-20 degrees hotter than the new card, uses somewhat less power, and hits a lower maximum clock speed. This would seem to be an open-and-shut demonstration of the fact that mining can wear out a GPU, but there are some problems with this analysis.

First, the authors don’t appear to have re-pasted or dusted the used GPU. Dust is an absolutely magnificent insulator and enough of it will easily destabilize a gaming rig. This alone could account for the higher temperatures and lower clocks on the used card, no explanation needed.

Second, it is not clear if this represents the same GPU being tested, or two different versions of the card purchased at two different times. The former would be more useful. The wide use of Turbo clocks in GPUs and CPUs today allow for variations in binning that can impact the final result. It could be that the newer card fielded a better core, allowing for higher base performance, and effectively invalidating our ability to derive any useful information from this comparison. The official boost clock on the MSI Gaming Trio X is 1755MHz, which means both GPUs are shown running above this specification. It is possible that some of the variance between the two GPUs reflects SoC quality.

If these are two different GPUs, we also don’t know if they use an identical VBIOS version or if they use exactly the same brand of RAM. Micro-timings and VBIOS updates can introduce their own performance changes. The newer GPU is also often faster than the older GPU than the difference in its clock speed would indicate. The clock gap as measured in-game is on the order of 3-5 percent (it varies depending on where you are in the run), while the performance variation varies by 8-12 percent. The RAM clock is supposedly locked to an effective 7GHz (14Gbps) across both cards.

There’s another point I want to bring up: These numbers are a little odd as far as the implied relationship between clock variation and actual observed performance.

From Testing Games. The clock speed gap, current FPS difference, and the average FPS score across the benchmark run do not agree with each other. A nearly 20 percent momentary performance difference is shown to correspond to a 6.6 percent clock variation, with the older card running nearly 10 percent slower overall. These gaps are present in almost every title, at any given moment of measurement.

GPU clocks and performance results do not typically move in lockstep. Increase the GPU core and memory clocks by 10 percent, and a game’s performance may only improve by 6-8 percent. This is expected because there’s always the chance that a benchmark is slightly limited by some other aspect of the system. The expected result from a linear clock speed increase is a linear-to-sublinear improvement in performance. It therefore follows that the expected impact of reducing clock is a linear-to-sublinear reduction in performance.

The results in this video show the opposite, in almost every case. Apart from Kingdom Come: Deliverance, the gap between the reported GPU clocks is about half the size of the performance improvement. 4-6 percent clock speed differences are associated with 8-15 percent performance shifts.

This could be a result of polling errors in the utilities being used to gather this information. Alternately, it suggests some other variable in play that hasn’t been accounted for in the YouTube video above. The used GPU could be hitting thermal limits and throttling itself back, but doing so more quickly than monitoring utility can detect. Most polling utilities only poll once per second, while GPUs are capable of adjusting their clocks in a matter of milliseconds. It’s possible that the used GPU’s clock looks more stable than it would if we had finer-grained reporting tools.

Testing Games has not released any follow-up information on their testing protocols or whether this comparison was performed on the same GPU at two different points in time or on two different GPUs purchased at different times. It also hasn’t released any discussion of why these results point to greater-than-linear performance improvements despite linear increases in GPU clock and no changes to memory clock.

Until these questions are answered, the idea that heavily-mined cards lose gaming performance can only be considered a theory. We’re not saying the theory is wrong, but it hasn’t been properly tested yet. More data is needed, either from Testing Games or from other sources, to illustrate the accuracy of this claim.

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