Reasons for sports fans to stay positive: Players Together, Kobe Bryant’s book success and more

Luke Brown

Thursday’s round-up of positive sports news stories during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There is a pretty obvious place to begin this morning: last night, Premier League players announced that they had joined forces to create a new initiative which will raise funds for NHS charities during the coronavirus pandemic and distribute them “where they are needed most”.

The likes of Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford tweeted a statement about an initiative called PlayersTogether, which has partnered with NHS Charities Together.

A statement from the group said: “Over the course of the last week we, as a group of Premier League players, have held numerous talks together with the vision of creating a contribution fund that can be used to distribute money to where it’s needed most in this COVID-19 crisis; helping those fighting for us on the NHS frontline as well as other key areas of need.

“This is a critical time for our country and for our NHS, and we are determined to help in any way that we can.”

Oh, and a hearty round of applause for Matt Hancock, please. Last week, the Conservative Health Minister decided to deflect attention away from his government’s over-promising and under-delivering of coronavirus testing for NHS workers by publicly calling out Premier League footballers for not doing enough to help during the pandemic. “Given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution,” he said.

And, after last night’s statement, Hancock was quick to reach for his phone and fire out the following tweet, to remind everybody that without him none of this would have ever come about:

We now all eagerly await similar impassioned pleas for billionaire tax exiles and Tory donors to also ‘make their contribution’.

Arteta’s keen eye

Mikel Arteta is not letting his Arsenal players relax (Getty)

If you think your boss gives you a hard time while you’re working from home, think again. Because Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has reportedly made his players wear GPS trackers while they are in their homes, so that he constantly monitor their individual regimes. And you thought being made to log into Slack every morning was a pain in the neck.

The tracking devices mean that Arsenal’s fitness department can closely monitor how fit players are remaining in lockdown, as they continue working in their home gyms.

Kobe’s book success

Kobe Bryant’s book is top of the charts (Getty)

The late Kobe Bryant’s latest book will debut in top spot on the New York Times best-seller list.

The latest release from Bryant’s Granity Studios, “The Wizenard Series: Season One” will debut at the top of the Times’ middle-grade hardcover list that will be published April 19. Earlier this week, it had already hit No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for children’s basketball books.

Good egg of the day

Thursday’s golden egg awards goes to former Wales centre and medical graduate Jamie Roberts, who has set aside his rugby kit and will work for the NHS as a clinical innovation fellow during a temporary assignment with the Cardiff and Vale Health board

Roberts is contracted to South African side Stormers, but has returned to Wales after the Super Rugby season was suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Look at this nice thing

Dracula. David Bowie in Labyrinth. Stormtroopers. Tommy from Karate Kid. Tottenham Hotspur. All bad guys. All impeccably dressed. Just look at this latest kit leak:

Frustratingly nice

They may have emerged as the surprise Dickensian villains of the UK’s coronavirus epidemic – placing their non-playing staff on furlough and illicitly training some of their players in a public park – but at least Spurs will soon be playing the role of public enemy number one in style, with this fourth kit based on, wait for it, a classic pair of Nike Air Max 95.

Yes, we know: a fourth kit. [Insert joke about Daniel Levy here.]

Watch this fun thing

Yesterday, we shared a video of heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker acting out the iconic ‘You’re the One That I Want’ scene from Grease, without realising that he has previous for this sort of thing.

So here is the big man recreating another famous movie moment, this time from Love Actually.

A rematch with Anthony Joshua, a role in a Hollywood blockbuster, whatever. Just give this fella whatever he wants.

Things to do

Read this: Lawrence Ostlere on how virtual cycling is the next big thing

And this: Vithushan Ehantharajah on the Wisden Almanack

And this: Hannah Cockroft on the difficulties now facing athletes

Yesterday’s column

On Chelsea’s generosity and ... Zlatan Ibrahimović’s nose.

Days to go until Euro 2020...

397!

Reasons for sports fans to stay positive

These are extraordinarily difficult times and, as a sports fan, it can be particularly tough to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the postponement or cancellation of almost every major sporting event, from the Premier League to the Gallagher Premiership, from The Masters at Augusta to the Wimbledon Championships.

But that doesn’t mean the sporting world has completely ground to a halt. And that doesn’t mean that there are no uplifting sports stories to raise everybody’s spirits.

So, here is a dedicated space for the day’s positive sports stories, whether big or small. If you find yourself in need of some positivity to reaffirm your faith in humanity and increase your anticipation for the return of professional sport, read on.