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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: March 29, 2020
Posted: March 29, 2020 at 10:51 am
2020 is a year in which we could all use an escape. Theres so much going on in the world, and so much of it is overwhelming, that even an hour away from the doom and gloom can be a welcome respite. Its a time when video games can seem more vital than ever.
Thankfully, 2020 is also a year full of great interactive experiences. That could mean the return of beloved franchises like Animal Crossing on the Switch or Half-Life in virtual reality, or inventive indie titles like Murder by Numbers or the final act of Kentucky Route Zero. Even Call of Duty has seen a resurgence, thanks to the free and accessible Warzone spinoff.
As with last year, were going to be keeping tabs on all of the best games throughout the year. If we play something and recommend it, youll find it right here on this landing page, which will be updated regularly, so be sure to check back. And if you see the little best games of 2020 badge on a review, know that its a title we truly love.
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Penn National Gaming Announces Additional Mitigation Efforts in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic – Yahoo Finance
Posted: at 10:51 am
Reaches Agreement with Gaming & Leisure Properties for $337.5 Million in Rent Credits
Raises $1.2 Million for Emergency Relief Fund and Extends Health Benefits to Assist Team Members Affected by Planned Companywide Furloughs
Withdraws Full-Year 2020 Guidance
Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN: Nasdaq) ("Penn National" or the "Company") today announced additional measures to help mitigate the financial impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"As the global COVID-19 health crisis continues to evolve, we are navigating through this unprecedented time for our Company, our industry and our nation," said Jay Snowden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Penn National. "With all of our 41 properties in 19 states temporarily shuttered, like many others in the gaming and hospitality sector, we are making difficult decisions to help preserve our liquidity and ensure a brighter future for our Companys team members, customers, shareholders and other key stakeholders.
"Today we announced an agreement with our principal landlord, Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI: Nasdaq) ("GLPI"), involving the sale of the Tropicana Las Vegas real estate assets (we will continue to operate the facility) and a new ground lease for our planned Category 4 casino in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, in exchange for $337.5 million in rent credits," said Mr. Snowden. "In addition, the deal includes an option for us to acquire the operations of GLPIs Hollywood Casino in Perryville, Maryland at a future date. We greatly appreciate the cooperation, creativity and partnership shown by GLPI during this challenging time. While this transaction will help to relieve liquidity pressure in terms of rent obligations, we are committed to taking further steps to reduce our ongoing operating expenses in order to ensure we have a healthy business to return to when we are able to re-open our doors," said Mr. Snowden.
As previously announced, Penn National will continue to pay its team members their full wages and benefits through March 31. However, several states have announced extensions of their temporary closure orders and other states may soon follow suit. Given the uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic, and with no meaningful revenue for the foreseeable future, Penn National will be implementing unpaid furloughs impacting approximately 26,000 team members companywide beginning April 1.
"This decision was extremely difficult to make for all of us at Penn," Mr. Snowden wrote in a letter to Company team members. "Penn National is a family, and we deeply regret the hardship this will place on you and your loved ones. We are extremely motivated and focused on re-opening our properties as soon as it is safe and legal to do so. To try to help ease some of the burden, were maintaining your medical benefits through June 30, for those team members who are currently enrolled in our health plans," wrote Mr. Snowden.
In addition, Penn National has established a special COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund under the Penn National Gaming Foundation to provide assistance to team members and local relief organizations in our communities. The Company has already raised over $1.2 million in team member relief funds, including more than $425,000 in personal contributions from Mr. Snowden and his senior management team, the Companys Board of Directors, and property general managers. For more information about the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund or to make a donation, please visit: https://www.pngaming.com/community.
"We are committed to doing all we can to help our affected team members get through this," said Mr. Snowden. "I am proud of the fact that when the call came down from our governors across the country to temporarily close our facilities, we managed the process in a safe and orderly fashion, ensuring the health and well-being of our team members and guests. Im equally proud of the fact that since closing our doors over a week ago, our properties have donated more than 45 tons of food to local food banks and homeless shelters in our communities, ensuring our perishable food items can help those in need. In addition, our properties have donated thousands of unused masks and surgical gloves to first responders and health care providers," said Mr. Snowden.
Penn National is taking the following additional short-term actions to reduce its cost structure during the property closures:
"Since the time we suspended operations, we have taken swift measures to confront this unprecedented challenge head on and have managed to significantly reduce our daily operating expenses," said Mr. Snowden. "While the steps weve taken are deeply painful on a personal and professional level, I am confident these moves will help to preserve our Companys and our team members long-term future," concluded Mr. Snowden.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and ongoing uncertainty regarding its magnitude and duration, Penn National is withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance provided on February 6, 2020.
The Company will provide a financial and operational update in connection with its first quarter 2020 earnings announcement planned for May 7.
About Penn National Gaming
Penn National Gaming owns, operates or has ownership interests in 41 gaming and racing properties in 19 jurisdictions and video gaming terminal operations with a focus on slot machine entertainment. We also offer live sports betting at our properties in Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In total, Penn Nationals properties feature approximately 50,000 gaming machines, 1,300 table games and 8,800 hotel rooms. In addition, the Company operates an interactive gaming division through its subsidiary, Penn Interactive Ventures, LLC, which recently launched iGaming in Pennsylvania and, through strategic partnerships, operates online sports betting in Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Company also has a leading customer loyalty program, mychoice, with over five million active customers.
All statements included in this press release, other than historical information or statements of historical fact, are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements, including statements regarding COVID-19, the length of time Penn Nationals gaming facilities will be required to remain closed and the impact of these closures on Penn National and its stakeholders, the demand for gaming once the facilities reopen, the impact of COVID-19 on general economic conditions, capital markets, unemployment and the Companys liquidity, operations, supply chain and personnel, the potential benefits of the transactions with GLPI and the decisions made by the Company in response to COVID-19, the Companys daily cash burn and the ability of the parties to obtain third party approvals are all subject to risks, uncertainties and changes in circumstances that could significantly affect the Companys future financial results and business. Accordingly, Penn National cautions that the forward-looking statements contained herein are qualified by important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected by such statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: (a) COVID-19 and its effect on capital markets, general economic conditions, unemployment and the Companys liquidity, operations and personnel; (b) industry, market, economic, political, regulatory and health conditions; (c) disruptions in operations from data protection breaches, cyberattacks, extreme weather conditions, medical epidemics or pandemics such as the COVID-19, and other natural or manmade disasters or catastrophic events; (d) the consummation of the proposed transactions with GLPI are subject to various conditions, including third party agreements and approvals, and accordingly may be delayed or may not occur at all, including for reasons beyond our control; (e) potential adverse reactions or changes to business or regulatory relationships resulting from the announcement or completion of the transactions with GLPI; (f) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against the Company or its directors, officers or employees; (g) the impact of new or changes in current laws, regulations, rules or other industry standards; and (h) other risks, including those as may be detailed from time to time in the Companys filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). For more information on the potential factors that could affect the Companys financial results and business, review the Companys filings with the SEC, including, but not limited to, its Annual Report on Form 10-K and its Current Reports on Form 8-K. The Company does not intend to update publicly any forward-looking statements except as required by law. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this press release may not occur.
View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200327005526/en/
General Media Inquiries: Eric Schippers, Sr. Vice President, Public AffairsPenn National Gaming610/373-2400
Financial Media and Analyst Inquiries: Justin Sebastiano, Sr. Vice President of Finance and TreasurerPenn National Gaming610/373-2400
Joseph N. Jaffoni, Richard LandJCIR212/835-8500 or email@example.com
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Posted: at 10:51 am
If you werent playing games when Half-Life came out, its hard to drive home just how shocking a departure it was from what had come before. Though some familiar mechanics served as a base to build off of, the injection of elaborately scripted sequences that put you into the action, mature humor and genuinely engaging set piece-driven plot put Half-Life into its own special section of the stratosphere.
Its not often that you can say that a product changes everything in its category from that moment on. Half-Life did that.
And then when Half-Life 2 debuted, it did it again with its method of delivery, incredible building tools and yes, inventive-as-hell gameplay.
Half-Life: Alyx does that again for VR, making such a direct impact that this will be a demarcation line forever in the way we craft immersive virtual experiences.
Alyx begins in the period of time between Half-Life and Half-Life 2, taking place mostly just before the action in the latter. The world is familiar, as are most of the cast of characters (along with some bespoke new additions). Given their high-fidelity look and carefully stepped variety, even newbies to the Half-Life universe should be kept entertained as they encounter new threats.
Those of you returning will find a large part of the new experience in inhabiting the same virtually physical space as headcrabs, barnacles and combined forces. Let me tell you, seeing the underbelly mouth of a crab flying toward your face in VR versus on your monitor definitely hits different.
That sense of presence that is so pivotal to VR is something Valve leaned into hard with Alyx. You are rewarded for treating environments and encounters as a place to pretend to be rather than progressing through. There are a variety of tricks that Alyx uses to make you comfortable existing in this world, not the least of which is the presence of a voice in your ear in the form of an engineer named Russell.
Played hilariously by Rhys Darby, Russells voice serves to mitigate issues that many VR aficionados may recognize. One of VRs primary powers is that of embodiment making the experience of being there so convincing that you generate real memories of presence. Along with that, though, comes isolation. Long VR sessions can make you feel cut off from reality, and horror experiences, especially, can become overwhelming. Having Russell there offering humanity and humor to punctuate the darkness of this supremely dystopian environment is a fantastic choice. Youre a solo operator, but youre not alone.
The environmental intensity of Alyx is well paced, too. An intermix of heart-pounding horror with moments of harsh beauty and humor can often be a difficult cocktail.
Theres a lot of different things that we give you the opportunity to do that give, I would argue, different types of players, different things to go deep on, says Half-Life: Alyx character animator Christine Phelan. With intentionality, we definitely spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what is that line?
Phelan notes that when there are horror elements, VR is well-known to be an intense experience, and modulating that was key to not alienating players. Rather than a relentless onslaught, you are brought up and down.
I checked my Apple Watch heart rate data over the past week that Ive been playing Alyx and, sure enough, there were the spikes in rate during my play sessions to prove the impact of those choices. Some of the more intense segments play like the best horror action movies youve seen Aliens comes to mind, as well as more recent fare like A Quiet Place.
Keeping you engaged in that environment, of course, means that control schemes are incredibly critical. Valves choices on Alyx reflect a desire to make sure that the widest array of people can experience the game. They offer all of the accepted travel modes. including teleporting, a continuous travel mode like walking and, my favorite, shift a sort of zooming snap that keeps a sense of context to your movement.
Personally, I am unable to walk continuously in VR without wanting to toss my cookies, and Alyx is no different here. In fact, the game takes a lot of pains to make sure it moves the character involuntarily as little as possible, even offering a toggle barnacle lift setting to avoid the motion sickness some people may feel being virtually hoisted in the air. A wise choice, as theres a lot going on in Alyx already, with some encounters forcing you to move rapidly through the environment to combat enemies or solve puzzles.
The sheer accessibility of Alyxs options speaks to the desire by the team to make sure it accommodated as many people as possible. Standing, seated, either hand, choice of dominant eye, room-scale or not if theres a way to play a VR game, Valve has you covered.
One of the biggest effective bits is the presence of Alyxs hands in the game world. Because most people interact with the world via their hands (though not all), Phelan notes that you get a lot for free when you make those the primary interaction method. People already know what to expect when they do things with their hands and at that point your job just becomes to make them act exactly as youd expect in as many situations as possible.
And they do. Your hands realistically grasp, tap, push and poke the environment (and there is a lot of environment with the most interactive objects Ive ever seen in a VR game).
The hands even adapt to the contours of things, curving or turning corners as you slide them across objects. The fingers are used to tell you that you really cant interact with this, but you can feel it this is not an action point for you. But then, when there is an action point, the hand naturally curves around something, and you get the message Oh, yeah, I can grab this.
A lot has been said about the Knuckles controllers that come with the Valve Index headset, and theyre great. But the marquee feature for me is the soft hand strap that keeps them attached to you. This frees you up to make grabbing and grasping motions with your whole hand, as you would normally.
I have the Vive controllers, the Oculus controllers and the Knuckles. Certainly, the Knuckles, with the individual finger control, absolutely locks it in, I think, for people on the hand interaction. If every company doesnt dupe the work that Valve has done with these, theyre dumb.
I think the Knuckles and the Index broadly is essentially Valves attempt to say, This is pointing towards a heightened VR experience. This is what we think of as a really great direction for this hardware to go, says Valves Chris Remo, who also added that they did a lot of work to make sure all the compatible VR hardware turned out a great play experience. It was obviously pretty important that this wasnt a Valve Index game. Its a VR game. We genuinely tried our best to support those features, [including] all the finger tracking the Index does on the Knuckles controllers and everything else.
A lot of the work on interactions mirrors what other creatives have done in VR, but polishes it up a level. And a lot of that work is hidden unless you look very hard for it. Doors open in the direction of your hands travel, for instance. Magically outwardly opening doors that open inward is a perfect affordance. Most people will never notice. The people that care will, and thats fine, but most people will just have a better time of going through this way versus that way without fussing too much.
The gravity gloves shown off prominently in the gameplay trailers are another such affordance. They neatly avoid the VR problem of people constantly inching out or down and ramming into things outside of their play area while trying to grab objects on the ground or inside containers. They also give the player the ability to quickly utilize the environment to fend off enemies or distract them with a speed and agility that youd never be able to realize otherwise.
Call it fate or design that Half-Life 2s gravity gun offered the perfect in-world explanation, but it works incredibly here. Grabbing a gas mask off the ground and attaching it to your face, fending off a headcrab with a trash can lid, throwing a brick to stagger a zombie, its all possible with Russell.
You can move through a space just as quickly physically, but people do end up taking longer, because youre naturally invited to do so, says Remo. You can look around something in a physical way that just, theres no equivalent to that in a non-VR game. It also meant that you can get up close to props in a way that isnt really possible or feasible as much in a non-VR game, which meant that all that stuff has to actually hold up and be worthwhile.
I can vouch for the time put in. At one point I grabbed a random half-crushed water bottle laying in a corner and looked inside the mouth to find the interior dimples of the bottom lovingly rendered. One persons trash, etc.
There are so many other things that I could talk about here. The use of spatial audio anchored in what seem to be Gaussian spheres that attach sound and (incredible) music to environments, with nested encounter scores inside. The dynamic loot system that keeps the balance of the resources you have available to you tuned so that the game remains fun. The encounters that take those early scripted scenes in Half-Life and plus them to create a symphony that taxes and rewards the player for creative and thoughtful gameplay.
Its not so much that Valve has executed One Weird Trick for making VR good. Many of these major ideas has been tried by one team or another over the past few years. But the execution has never been more precise and thoughtful. One after another the good choices keep coming and the whole adds up to something truly special and bar-setting.
Inventive, clever and completely engaging, Half-Life: Alyx is the first masterwork of VR gaming.
But that could actually be understating its eventual impact on VR, if thats possible. Though the template for what a truly A-list title looks like has now been truly sketched, it has always been Valves willingness to share its tools that has made the most impact on the gaming scene at large.
Thats why Im looking forward to an eventual SDK. Hammer 2 is easily one of the best game-building tools ever created. Valve is already going to ship Source 2 tools for building new VR levels in Alyx, but as fans of history will remember, the level building scene really took off once the deeper tools to craft a game became available. The ripple effect on the industry will be felt long after people have dissected every sliver of what makes this game so fun. You can trace a major portion of the $1 billion esports industry directly back to mods enabled by Valve being generous with their internal tools.
Imagine what that kind of impact looks like for VR, a field that has been experimenting like mad but has no real coda of best practices for building. It could be massive, and though members of the team have said that theyre not currently planning to release an SDK, my hopes are high.
Until then, we have Alyx, and it is good.
NBA could consider clustering teams to play games in locations such as the Bahamas and Las Vegas, report says – CBS Sports
Posted: at 10:51 am
The novel coronavirus pandemic has the rest of the sports world, including the NBA at a standstill. It's been just over two weeks since the league suspended playand the remainder of the 2019-20 season is in flux. Although there has been some uncertainty as to how soon will it be safe for games to resume, that has not stopped the league from preparing a roadmap to normalcy. The NBA is looking to the Chinese Basketball Association for examples on how to resume play in a safe and timely manner, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
The Chinese league has considered gathering every team and playing games in one or two cities with warm climate or effective quarantine strategies. This scenario would involve the temperatures of players being monitored multiple times each day. NBA players and executives might not be too far away from considering a similar strategy if things works out in China, according to Windhorst.
Various ideas have been floated by players and executives. One is to consider using a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof. Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment.
Getting restarted won't be easy. Basketball leagues in Korea and Japan both attempted and failed to resume action. The CBA has already delayed its return twice, initially set for early April, but now targeted for late April or early May. In the past week, CBA stars Lance Stephenson and Jeremy Lin returned to China and began 14-day self-quarantines to get cleared for training camp.
If the 2019-20 NBA season resumes, it would be under circumstances the league has never seen before. Fans could be barred from games; broadcasters may be given limited access, and the playoff format could be tweaked. Whichever path the league chooses, it will surely consider the successes and failures of the CBA in its return.
Posted: at 10:51 am
There's nothing quite like being told you can't be outside to make you want to be outside, but that's a bad idea right now. Like many of you, we've been finding new ways to keep ourselves busy indoors, whether that's taking up a new hobby like bread baking or just laying on the couch binge-watching all 22 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We've also been scouring the web for deals on products that might be extra helpful in this time of self-isolation, from headphones and games to home goods. And while you are keeping your distance from others, we encourage you to support your local businesses and check out any local aid organizations that might be taking donations of supplies for those who might not have them. Take care of each other.
For more ways to stay entertained and productive, this week we've looked at how to get free Kindle books with a library card, how to keep your social life alive at a distance, and how to teleconference like a pro.
When you buy something using the links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Here's how it works. You can also support our reporting and reviewing by purchasing an unlimited subscription to WIRED for $5 a year.
Headphones & Laptops
Check out our guides to the Best Wireless Headphones, Best Wirefree Earbuds, and Best Laptops for more recommendations.
Master & Dynamic MW50 Wireless on-Ear Headphones for $125 ($124 off with code WFH50): Like most Master & Dynamic headphones, the MW50s aren't exactly cheap, but they produce incredible sound (9/10 WIRED Recommends), and at half their usual price, they're a steal.
Master & Dynamic MW07 Wireless Earbuds for $100 ($100 off with code WFH50): These are among our favorite wireless earbuds, and normally their premium sound commands a premium price, but until Sunday, they're half off.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon 14-Inch Laptop for $1,849 ($1,000 off): I don't usually get excited about business laptops, but the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a business laptop with serious horsepower and style to match.
ThinkPad X280 12-Inch Laptop for $849 ($1,230 off): The ThinkPad X280 is a great everyday laptop and it's super portable, which will be important when we're able to go outside again.
Games & Accessories
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Posted: at 10:51 am
Mobile game designers feel like the mad scientists of the development world. They work fast and are constantly adjusting formulas based on the tiniest changes in player data. And when one experiment blows up in their face, theyre ready to move on to whatever is next. On this weeks episode of How Games Make Money, host Jeff Grubb speaks with Metamoki game design director Mitch Zamara about what its like to create games like Weed Inc. and Wiz Khalifas Weed Farmin that kind of environment. Join us, wont you?
Developers have refined mobile games into a science. Studios use performance marketing to acquire players. This is where a developer only pays for an ad when it leads to an install. And as long as the cost of that install is significantly less than what the average player is going to spend, then a game can just keep rolling forever.
This data-driven approach means that mobile gaming is much leaner and more limber than traditional studios.
The notion of spending many years on a game and trying to get featured and putting all these efforts into a high-production product, it creates a huge amount of risk, said Zamara. Thats versus the ability to create a free-to-play game in a matter of months with a much smaller team. You can explore how viable that is as a business in a much cheaper and quicker manner.
But while that might sound like it reduces games to a cold equation, its not really how Zamara looks at it. As a designer, hes never thinking about the monetization first. Instead, its all about creating a game that is fun and players will want to come back to. Thats what determines if a game lives or dies.
For the most part, your early validation is to make sure that your retention is strong so that your players stick around, he said. Thats really more important than even how good your monetization is or how good your other business metrics are. If youre able to get create an experience thats compelling and fun and engaging and people stick around, then figuring out how to make money from those players is a lot easier than having to figure out ways to make people stay.
Zamara says that he has had experiences where his team spent two months trying to get a game from low 30% retention up closer to 50%. But no matter what they did, the needle wouldnt budge more than 5% higher. At that point, the team moves on to something new.
But this doesnt just happen to new, untested games. Eventually, even most profitable games reach the end of their lives. And this is something that Zamara thinks comes with the territory.
This has been happening since 2009 when Farmville was a thing, he said. I worked at Zynga, and they killed a dozen games while I was there, games that were eventually taken offline. Some of those were games that I even worked on.
But none of that changes how to make a game fun. For Zamara, it doesnt matter that the business is so obsessed with data.
I turn spreadsheets into fun and into a player experience, he said. I can look at a spreadsheet and feel what that experience is like for a player. So for me I dont lose that emotional touch because I start first as an advocate for the player and never leave that that perch. Ive always fought for the experience of the player because I know, at the end of the day, thats what will drive the business.
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Posted: at 10:51 am
The Riot Games global control center in Los Angeles
As the coronavirus crisis disrupts all businesses differently, Im finding that even the most favorably placed firms are facing significant disruption. Facebook, for instance, would at first glance be a natural winner: but while usage at Facebook is up, ad spend is down.
Riot Games is the global developer and publisher of e-sports, including the iconic League of Legends. Earlier this week, I talked with Chris Hymes, Chief Information Security Officer at Riot Games, and Ahmed Sidky, Riots Head of Business Agility. Chris leads information security and I.T. at Riot with responsibility for all of its computer security and corporate computer systems.He alsoleads the Business Continuity Working Group. We discussed how Riots headquarters in Los Angeles handled the crisis so far, including
What is the impact on Riots business strategy?
What measures did Riot take?
Did Riots multi-year investment in business agility help?
The Business Continuity Working Group was set up to help Riot through the specifics of the coronavirus crisis, although in a sense Riot has been laying the foundation for dealing with crises like this with its multiyear commitment to business agility.
Impact On Riots Strategy
Steve Denning: One set of questions concerns: has the crisis changed your business strategy?
Chris Hymes: When we talk about strategic impact, Riot always prioritizes our players first in every decision we make and this situation was no different. The number one priority for us was ensuring that our games stay up and operational even if it meant no new development. Overall, we just want to be there for our players during these hard times. For many of our players, our games keep them going and are the primary way they have fun with their friends.
Ahmed Sidky: This year is a critical year for us. We're launching new games. If we didn't have the right mindset in our people, this crisis would have been devastating.
Coping With Day-to-Day Disruption
Denning: Rioters used to work at the office all day, every day, and now they're home. What has the crisis meant in practical terms?
Hymes: This was a challenge that we were able to handle only because of the work and the foundations that we laid for years. One of the primary missions of the IT team for the last two years was to enable Rioters to be able to work from anywhere. We were working towards that and we were able to flip a bunch of switches when the time came. So it was two years worth of work that came together in two weeks.
In late February, I began leading the Business Continuity Working Group to develop a framework for thinking specifically about the coronavirus crisis, given the critical importance to our business to keep the online gaming experience running 24/7 everywhere in the world. Here we had to consider: how do we balance the health and safety of Rioters with continuing to deliver on our mission to players?
Very early we decided that we would follow local health authorities. If they asked us to do something, we would do it. And since we're a global company, we empowered our local office managers to make decisions for their local office.
And then we began developing a plan to get all Rioters working from home. This isnt as easy as it looks. Most of our work is done in small teams that work face-to-face in short cycles. Sending Rioters home creates massive disruption in normal work routines. There are also technology issues because we have a lot of artists, composers, engineers and others who work on very specialized equipment and require high-speed digital transmission. They can't simply go home and automatically be successful at work.
We examined which teams would have big problems and which teams could be successful on day one. And then we asked teams to send people home to understand what was involved working from home. Very quickly, over ten days, we had people reporting back on issues and we set about solving those problems.
De-risking Riots Headquarters
Hymes: This was the end of February and the first week of March. Before any government instructions in California, we set about de-risking our headquarters, which is 75% of Rioters. That meant two things. One, if an authority required sending people home, we wanted to be ready. To minimize chaos, we wanted to have a smaller percentage of our workforce to send home when the order came.
Second, we started creating social distancing for Rioters who had difficulty in working from home, like artists and composers.
We compiled a list of all the teams who could leave immediately if they needed to. Then we asked representatives of larger groups like artists or composers to explore what was involved in literally picking up all their equipment and taking it home. The security team made sure that we had the appropriate security controls on those devices. After they arrived home, we asked, could they set the equipment up? Could they connect? Could they do their work? And what didnt function? We started to work through these issues while recognizing output was going to be slower over the corporate VPN.
One surprise: we found that a large number of Rioters didnt have a laptop. We quickly got our IT team to build as many laptops as possible and generated around 450 working laptops over two days. We then began handing them out to people in case they needed to work from home.
We knew that other Rioters wouldnt be able to work if they didn't have their desktop computer. So we began exploring the security controls we would need to put on the computers so that Rioters couldpick up their computer, their keyboard, their mouse and everything and bring it all home. We let all Rioters make the choice of what they wanted to do. They could use their laptop or take their desktop and all their equipment, even their desk chair.
Changes For Millennials
We also had challenges given that many Rioters are millennials, with little space at home. They are used to having lunch and dinner at the office in closely packed cafeteria queues. Rioters really depend on and love the community they have at the company. Many of the relationships and the community are built through those face-to-face interactions.
We're trying to figure out ways to keep everyone together and having fun. We actually had a competition for the best work from home setup with awards for the best setup, the most interesting use of a household object, the messiest, and the most zen. Everyone was posting. Even the CEO posted pictures of his work-from-home setup. These small examples help make Riot such a unique and amazing place to work.
Getting Ahead Of The Government
Hymes: Basically everyone is working from home now. Within two weeks of when we started planning, we made the call to start implementing the staged work-from-home approach where we began asking individual teams to begin working from home. By the time we opened on March 16, we had a thousand people off-campus working from home. By March 19, 92% of the campus was working at home.
The actual government order came late on March 19, but by this time, it was already implemented. We had seen the writing on the wall. Now there's a list of fewer than 50 people authorized to work at headquarters, most of them only for emergencies. There are security guards, the mailroom and a few IT people.
Denning: Are you operating at 100% effectiveness or less?
Hymes: I could answer that better in a couple weeks. Our teams are adjusting as work is continuing. This is the first full week that we'll have the entire workforce working from home. We haven't seen many issues.
Hymes: I'm more concerned about whats happening in the households. Schools are closed. I have a three-month-old at home. Many Rioters have children who are now home all day and their significant other also has to work from home.
Theres a balance to be achieved. How do you work effectively when you have kids running around the house? We have many Rioters who live in smaller apartments and theydon't have dedicated spaces like an office to work in. Work efficiency will be less for some people.
We will learn a lot over the coming weeks and get better at this. One of the things you can always expect from Rioters is continuous improvement and a desire to keep making progress.
Sidky: This is a critical time for us. During all this, weve launched Teamfight Tactics Mobile. That's a new game in the app store. A key thing is the passion that our Rioters have to serve players. Thats still there. It's there even more right now. It's how to balance work with life, literally. It's not just the tech at this point. It's life. And this is new for everyone.
Hymes: A key factor is Rioters passion. Thats what makes Riot extraordinary. Its not only that Rioters want to keep the games running but also helping each other. There are so many Rioters who are like, Hey, if you need this, I have it. Come get it or I'll drop it off to you. Hey, here's some best practices for working from home. It's the community that Rioters have that is keeping us together.
Within our security team, we've created weekly sessions for everyone just to hang out. Not to do work, just to talk about, Hey, how's life? What's going on? Learning the things that we would have learned in the office during lunches together.
Return To The Office
Denning: What are the longer term implications?
Hymes: Just as we did a phased approach out, we'll probably do a phased approach for return. Some will find their life, their ability to work is still much better in the office. Our composers and artists for example. There are also people who dont like working at home and we'd enable those individuals to come back sooner. We want to maintain social distancing and all the best practices society demands of us.
Thinking ahead to our e-sports competitions, we are running some of our League of Legends leagues right now without live audiences. We're enabling some professional players to have their matches remotely. Our players can watch online and we can bring them the joy of being able to see their favorite players and teams play while keeping our professional players safe. Making e-sports competitions virtual is obviously easier than football and soccer but still not trivial: there are a lot of implications and challenges from a technology perspective.
The Impact Of Riots Culture
Sidky: It all depends on the kind of workforce you have. Are the staff mission-aligned or just transactional? If work is just a job for a paycheck, youll see that become even more evident in times like these when accountability and transparency are much less. With Riot, its the years of investment we've put in to ensure that Rioters are mission-aligned and are passionate about delighting our players.
Its hard times that reveal the passion that Rioters have for the mission of creating great experiences for our players, to persevere and become resilient and figure out the way to still deliver even when there are many constraints. Thats really living our mission to be the most player focused game company in the world.:
It makes a difference whether its a transactional or mission-driven workforce. What I've seen at Rioters so far is mission-driven behavior. Its all about doing what's right for Riots players
Hymes: I agree. I have friends who work at other companies where they are looking at this like a vacation. But for Rioters, its, how do I get to do the work? How do I keep delivering on the mission? It's been inspiring to see.
Sidky: The seeds that weve been planting are really showing their fruits today because the commitment and the camaraderie Rioters have are priceless in todays environment. That's a dream that many companies aspire to. Here, its a reality. I think we're fortunate to have the workforce we have.
Is Working Virtually Better?
Denning: Is anything actually better when you work virtually?
Hymes: An immediate positive is getting time back from not having to battle Los Angeles traffic. Someone can sit down at 9am without having had to commute for more than an hour and then again going home. That's impactful for people and it's going to be difficult for them to go back to the office routine, especially if this persists for some time.
A negative is that so much business gets done through brief hallway conversations. So how do you keep that level of informal interaction and understanding for the company? Do we need to have a two-way camera on all the time? Or is it Slack messaging?
And these are some of the behaviors that we're beginning to learn. And the question ultimately is, how do those behaviors carry back to the office? What are the good practices that we will bring with us? And will life ever truly return to normal? I think it will, but it will be different.
Coronavirus cases in Italy, USA & S. Korea as of March 25
The Importance Of Business Agility
Denning: I think some Californian firms began to think about this on March 19th. Riot is in a very different situation.
Sidky: We are all learning. So I don't want to suggest Riot just flipped the switch and things are easy. This is something we talk about a lot, which is how can we have greater and greater business agility to serve our players. Agility is not a capability that you can flip a switch in a day or a week. It is a multi-year investment actually its even more of part of our identity. The interesting thing is that you may only really see it fully in action it when the going gets really tough.
It's like building muscles that you don't even know about until theyre needed. A lot of companies seem to think you can buy agility. But its not something that you go to a shop and ask for two boxes of business agility.
Its not like that. Its all about the mindset. Its the community, the relationships, the trust, the leadership, the culture, the tech, and the infrastructure, all together. All of that has been years in the making. It's wonderful moments like this where you can really see it.
I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but we know that challenges like what we're going through today will happen again in the future. I hope companies prepare for that in times of peace and calm. Its an investment because disruptions are going to be more frequent and more challenging.
And read also:
Why The U.S. Coronavirus Strategy Must Change
Leadership In The Time Of The Coronavirus
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Posted: at 10:51 am
On July 24, as far as the organizers of the Olympics are still concerned, thousands of athletes will march as scheduled into the national stadium in Tokyo for the opening ceremony of the biggest sporting event on the planet. The Summer Olympics.
Is this a vision of reality or just a mirage?
While the international sports calendar has been wiped almost clean by the spread of the coronavirus, the organizers of the 2020 Olympics seemingly unwilling to meddle just yet with years of planning and billions of dollars in television rights and other anticipated revenue insist the Games can go on.
Yet now, in a showdown over public safety, the organizers are facing a remarkable groundswell of criticism and pushback from their own athletes, fans and national Olympic officials, who are increasingly and unusually vocal in calling for a postponement.
One of the biggest cracks in the usual solidarity behind the Games came Friday when U.S.A. Swimming, which governs the sport in the United States and regularly produces stars at the Games like Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, called for a postponement because of the growing obstacles to training amid practical restrictions imposed by the virus. The following day, U.S.A. Track & Field, which along with swimming has produced the most medals for the United States, also requested a delay.
Norways national Olympic committee, in a statement on Friday, became the first to clearly state a preference for the Olympics to be delayed until the global pandemic can be brought under control. The Brazilian Olympic committee on Saturday also endorsed postponing the Games until 2021.
There were signs of pressure within Japan, with a member of its Olympic committee coming out in favor of postponing the Games.
Opening the Olympics at a time when athletes could not train as much as they wanted to runs counter to the motto of athletes first, Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the Japanese Olympic committee board who won a bronze medal in judo in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun. The Games should be postponed.
Hayley Wickenheiser, a six-time Canadian Olympian and a member of the I.O.C. Athletes Commission, has denounced the plan to go forward. I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead with such conviction is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity, she wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said in an interview Thursday that the Games would not be canceled. And while he left open the possibility of postponing them, he said a decision did not have to be made soon.
Nobody today can tell you what the developments are tomorrow, what they are in one month, not to mention in more than four months, Bach said, justifying the wait-and-see approach.
But in reality the organizers may not have that much time, and in many ways, outside forces could be making the decision for Bach.
Japan has travel bans and strict quarantining measures imposed on visitors from scores of countries, and a recent national poll showed that a large majority of people there did not believe the Games could proceed as planned.
Broadcasters and marketers are fretting about a sports calendar already upended by cancellations and postponements involving nearly every other league and major event in the world which, among other challenges, would make it difficult for marquee athletes like N.B.A. superstars to come to Tokyo. Even NBC, the American broadcaster that has great sway with the organizers, has prepared for the possibility that the Games will be shifted to next year or farther down the road, by taking out the necessary insurance protections, though it has yet to make any major logistical preparations.
And then there is the negotiating partner that cannot be reasoned with: the Covid-19 virus itself, which has torn an uncontrollable, unpredictable path across the global map, yielding a cascade of consequences that have altered the fabric of daily life.
The modern Olympics are a multibillion-dollar, made-for-television extravaganza that serve as an investment vehicle for scores of sponsors and media partners and as a source of entertainment for millions of fans.
But the heart of the Games remains the athletes, and so it was no surprise that the calls for postponement only seemed to gain traction in recent days, as their cries and concerns grew louder and more explicit.
The outcry arrived almost simultaneously with a rash of restrictions on movement and public gatherings and a sharp rise this week in coronavirus cases in Europe and North America all of it clashing with Mr. Bachs advice that athletes should train full steam ahead, as if the Games would still occur in late July and early August.
Many found the I.O.C.s stance tone deaf. Not only have athletes in affected countries struggled to maintain their elite-level training routines, but stubbornly trying to do so might exacerbate the spread of the virus.
I recognize theyre treading a light line: Theyre conscious of the brands, theyre conscious of the impact on the Japanese economy, and theyre in a precarious position, Iaki Gmez, a member of the Canadian Olympic Athletes Commission, said of the I.O.C. But for me, I think that all has to go out the window. Were trying to contain something thats unprecedented in the last 100 years.
Some American gymnasts, who tend to be a centerpiece of the Games, are also openly calling for a postponement.
For all of those athletes in the U.S., but also globally, like in Italy and in China, who are on complete lockdowns, I think it would make it a fairer competition in Tokyo if the Olympics were postponed to give everyone the time they need to be ready, said Laurie Hernandez, a 2016 gold medal winner who has been scrambling to find a place to train since her gym in California closed its doors on Thursday night because of the states shelter-in-place order.
The president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, Li Li Leung, said Friday that the organization would survey its athletes before deciding whether to take a position on postponing the Games.
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, however, said it would continue to endorse the I.O.C.s wait-and-see approach. That decision provoked the ire of athletes, and hours later U.S.A. Swimming added its voice to those calling for postponing the Games.
Pressing forward amidst the global health crisis this summer is not the answer, Tim Hinchey, the chief executive of U.S.A. Swimming, wrote in a letter to the U.S.O.P.C.
Mr. Bach had acknowledged the day before that in some corners of the I.O.C.s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, alternative plans were being weighed.
Given that canceling the Games entirely was ruled out this week by the I.O.C., many analysts now believe that the most logical decision would be to wait a year, when it is hoped the world will have emerged from the worst of the pandemic.
That could disrupt other big events, including world championships for swimming and for track and field that are scheduled in 2021.
Whatever decision is made, Mr. Bach has repeatedly insisted that it would not be driven by financial interests. Still, I.O.C. executives have been in constant contact with leading sponsors and broadcast executives.
The I.O.C. derives roughly half of its revenues from its media partners, and about 75 percent of those come from NBC, which in 2014 agreed to pay $7.75 billion for all the U.S. media rights to the Olympics through 2032. (That is an average of $1.29 billion for each Games from 2022 to 2032, 17 percent more than the average fee of $1.1 billion the NBC committed for the 2014-2020 Games.)
Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast, which owns NBC, said at a conference in San Francisco this month that the company had insurance to guarantee it would incur no losses should the Games be postponed this year.
At this point, in fact, pushing ahead with the Olympics this summer could cause scheduling conflicts for NBC.
The network televises the N.H.L. and Englands Premier League, both of which are on hiatus but intend to finish their seasons. Their rescheduled games may ultimately conflict with the Olympics, which NBC shows on several channels through its parent company, NBCUniversal.
In a statement, NBC promised to continue to do the best we can to be prepared to stand behind any decision made by the I.O.C., the Japanese government and the world health officials with whom they are working regarding the 2020 Olympics.
Every media agreement is different, but Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports and a former media consultant to the I.O.C., said many deals are set up so that the broadcaster partners do not have to pay the bulk of the fees for each Olympics until just before the Games actually begin. That means the I.O.C. would have to wait for its money in the event of a postponement.
Pilson said the idea of staging the Olympics with just athletes and no spectators effectively making it a global television event would not solve the central problem of how many people are required simply to run the Games. NBC alone is expected to take roughly 2,000 people to Japan. In addition, the Olympics typically require more than 50,000 workers, support staff and volunteers.
Delaying to October doesnt really work, because you dont really know how much better things will be then, Mr. Pilson said. That brings you back to the idea that postponing for a year is probably the best solution.
Michael Lynch, the former director of global sponsorship marketing for Visa who now consults with Olympic sponsors, said the uncertainty surrounding the Games had put companies that spent $100 million or more to partner with the I.O.C. in a bind at a difficult moment for all businesses. All have advertising, promotions, retail engagements, hospitality and other events planned for Tokyo during the Games. All typically spend one to three dollars supporting those efforts for every dollar they devoted to buying Olympic sponsorship rights.
How do you invite people to the Games at this time? Mr. Lynch said.
While Mr. Bach said the I.O.C. had no cash-flow issues, there are other entities that rely on payments from the Olympics to finance their operations, including the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The U.S.O.P.C. has a revenue-sharing arrangement with the I.O.C. that gives it about 12 percent of the fees from NBC and roughly 20 percent of the I.O.C.s sponsorship revenue.
The broadcast payments alone, which totaled $169 million from the Summer Games in 2016 and $121 million from the Winter Games in 2018, account for about half of the U.S.O.P.C.s revenues. Because the payment is not made until after the Games have occurred, a delay could cause a serious financial shortfall for the organization.
Even if the I.O.C. does decide that the Olympics should be postponed, it must find some harmony with the wants and needs of the host nation.
It was four years ago, at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, that Japan assumed control of the Summer Olympics spotlight. That night, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, emerged from a green drainpipe dressed as Super Mario, the popular video game character. For the normally staid politician, the appearance signaled in colorful terms the depth of his commitment to what could be the defining project of his legacy.
Since being awarded the Games in 2013, Japan has invested tens of billions of dollars as the partner of the I.O.C. Navigating the current crisis, then, has become a test of pride for the countrys government and its Olympic committee officials, and in the current predicament over possible postponement, they hold many of the cards.
Until recently, their public statements reflected a show-must-go-on mentality, but within the last two weeks, cracks have started to appear.
On March 10, Haruyuki Takahashi, a member of the local organizing committee, suggested that a delay of one or two years would be the most prudent option if the Olympics could not be held as planned. Though he was forced to apologize, a shift seemed to have begun.
Mr. Abe, in a video conference call Monday with the leaders of the Group of 7 countries, said, I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders.
The fact the prime minister did not specifically mention holding the Games in 2020 signaled to some that he was starting to accept the idea of a delay.
Speaking in Parliament two days later, Mr. Abes deputy, Taro Aso, who is also the finance minister, referred to prior Olympics that were disrupted by world events, including the 1940 Games, which were canceled because of World War II, and the 1980 Moscow Olympics, boycotted by 65 nations including the United States and Japan.
This time, it doesnt make sense if others cannot attend from other countries, even if Japan alone will become all right, Mr. Aso said.
As the prime minister said, its desirable to hold the Olympics in an environment where everyone feels safe and happy, Mr. Aso added. But thats not something Japan alone can decide.
Close watchers of the government said that a decision most likely had not yet been made, but that Mr. Abe was signaling a willingness to consider options.
His recent comment to the Group of 7 is a strategic ambiguity, said Kunihiko Miyake, a former Japanese diplomat now teaching at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. In these cases, what is not said is the most important.
Even though the Olympic flame arrived in Japan from Greece on Friday, the Japanese public already seemed farther along in accepting a postponement than the government. In a poll released Monday by Kyodo News, a Japanese news service, close to 70 percent of respondents said they did not expect the Tokyo Games to go on as scheduled.
Amid all this, the hunger for the Olympics remains strong.
Mr. Abe and Mr. Bach have both alluded to the fact that the Games could have the power to bring people together and help the world heal after the horrors of the pandemic.
Tokyo could end up staging the greatest Olympics ever, Michael Payne, a longtime former marketing director at the I.O.C., said. It would be the celebration of the world having come through this very difficult time.
But the almost impossible task, now, is somehow ensuring that such a celebration would not be premature.
Juliet Macur, Makiko Inoue and Ben Dooley contributed reporting.
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Posted: at 10:51 am
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
With the sports world on hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN is gearing up to show a multitude of classic Monday Night Football games in the coming weeks.
The network will air five games over the next five Mondays at 8 p.m. ET each week, giving football fans a way to pass the time while stuck self-isolating due to the coronavirus.
[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]
So, naturally, we had to rank them.
Final Score: Minnesota 30, Green Bay 23
Location: Mall of America Field | Minneapolis, Minnesota
ESPN Air Date: April 13
It was a historic Monday Night for Brett Favre, and an unusual one for Green Bay Packers fans everywhere.
The legendary Packers quarterback led the Minnesota Vikings to a 30-23 win against his former team, which officially made him the first quarterback in NFL history to secure a win against all 32 teams in the league.
I dont know how to explain it, Favre said after the game, via the Associated Press. I felt right, but I guess I never thought Id be in that situation.
Favre finished the night with 271 yards and three touchdowns in the win. While his replacement in Green Bay recorded a career night too Aaron Rodgers threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns, including a 33-yard heave to Jordy Nelson with 3:49 left in the game he was sacked eight times and couldnt quite complete the comeback.
Favre and the Vikings won 10 of their first 11 games that season, his only with the franchise, en route to the NFC Championship, where they eventually fell to the New Orleans Saints in overtime.
Final Score: Indianapolis 40, New England 21
Location: Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Massachusetts
ESPN Air Date: April 20
Peyton Manning struggled early on in his career against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, mounting an early 0-7 record at Gillette Stadium.
Finally, though, the future Hall of Famer got his win.
Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a dominant 40-21 win against Tom Brady and the Patriots in this Monday Night Football blowout behind 321 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
The New England defense had no answer for Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne, either, as the two Colts wide receivers posted 120-yard games and had three touchdowns on 18 receptions between the two of them. Running back Edgerrin James racked up 104-yards on 34 carries in the rout, too, preserving Indianapolis undefeated record through eight games that season.
Final Score: New Orleans 23, Atlanta 6
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdone | New Orleans, Lousiana
ESPN Air Date: April 6
The game would have been a remarkable one for New Orleans Saints fans regardless of the outcome.
It was the first home game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city the year before.
The way the Saints dominated the Atlanta Falcons, however, made it that much better.
New Orleans cruised to a 23-3 win against Atlanta in this Monday Night Football contest behind an impressive defensive showing. The Saints held Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to just 57 yards on six carries and limited him to just 137 yards through the air on 12 passes.
The Saints grabbed the lead on the very first drive, too, after forcing a Falcons three-and-out. Steve Gleason expertly blocked the Atlanta punt and sent the ball back into the end zone, where they picked it up and grabbed an instant 7-0 lead.
Final Score: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24
Location: Ralph Wilson Stadium | Buffalo, New York
ESPN Air Date: April 27
By all accounts, the Dallas Cowboys should have lost this Monday Night Football contest in 2007.
The Buffalo Bills had built up an impressive 24-13 lead over the Cowboys after three quarters at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and capitalized on five interceptions from Dallas quarterback Tony Romo who opened the night by throwing a pick-6 on his very first pass attempt of the game.
Yet it was the final few minutes of the game that turned it into a Monday Night Football classic.
Dallas mounted a massive 12-play, 85-yard drive and capped it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton to bring them within two points with just 20 seconds left on the clock. Romo attempted to find Terrell Owens for a two-point conversion, however the Bills swatted the ball away to maintain the lead.
The Cowboys then recovered an incredible onside kick to get the ball back, setting up a 53-yard field goal from Nick Folk to seal the 25-24 win.
Final Score: Los Angeles 54, Kansas City 51
Location: LA Coliseum | Los Angeles, California
ESPN Air Date: March 30
It was the highest-scoring game in Monday Night Football history.
Naturally, it went down as an instant classic.
The Los Angeles Rams beat the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 at the LA Coliseum, which marked the first Monday Night Football game in the city since 1985 after the game was relocated there from Mexico City.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff racked up 413 yards four touchdowns, including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett with just 1:49 left to play, which set up the eventual three-point win.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes posted a career-high 478 yards and six touchdowns that night, but threw a pair of interceptions in the final 90 seconds.
In total, the game boasted 14 touchdowns, 56 first downs and 105 total points 59 of which came in the second half.
It was a whirlwind, Rams coach Sean McVay said after the game, via the Associated Press. I feel like I might need a couple of beverages to relax tonight, but it was great. This is what you love so much about the game.
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Posted: at 10:51 am
TOKYO A week ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, were promoting the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as the balm the world needed to show victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the virus won out.
Bach and Abe bowed to a groundswell of resistance from athletes, from sports federations, from national Olympic committees, from health experts and formally postponed the Games, which had been scheduled to begin in late July, until 2021.
The decision brought both a sense of relief and impending chaos to international sports.
Abe broke the news after a phone call with Bach, when complaints that the I.O.C. was not moving quickly enough to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic became too loud to ignore.
The decision which organizers in Japan resisted the longest, according to people involved with the process became all but inevitable after the national Olympic committee in Canada announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing from the Games, and Australias committee told its athletes that it was not possible to train under the widespread restrictions in place to control the virus. Brazil and Germany, too, called for postponing the Games. And the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, after initially declining to take a stand, joined the fray Monday night, urging the I.O.C. to postpone.
In announcing the decision, Abe said that he had asked Bach for a one-year delay and that Bach had agreed 100 percent.
It was an extraordinary turnabout: The Olympics have been canceled only because of world wars, in 1916, 1940 and 1944, and have carried on even in the tense climate after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where 17 people died after the quarters of the Israeli team were stormed by Palestinian terrorists.
Bach said the situation had become untenable in recent days as the World Health Organization described the acceleration of the virus in Africa to Olympic leaders. That forced the I.O.C. to shift its focus from whether Japan could be safe at the start of the Games to what was immediately happening in various other countries.
We had growing confidence in the developments in Japan, Bach said in a conference call with journalists. In 4 months, these safe conditions could be offered. Then we had this big wave coming from the rest of the world.
As the virus spread, Bach said, athletes began voicing concerns about risking their health to continue training. It became clear that the pandemic was rocking the nerves of the athletes, and its also not a situation we have ever been in, he said.
Bach said that finalizing the details of a new schedule and negotiating adjustments in the global sports calendar with leaders of international federations, who were caught off guard by the speed of the decision, would take time.
There are a lot of pieces of a huge and very difficult jigsaw puzzle, he said.
Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, said that the scope and the dates of the Games in 2021 were uncertain, but that it was clear that they could not be held anytime in 2020.
I am disappointed, Mori said. But to be on course with a certain direction is a sigh of relief.
The postponement could result in adjusting the dates to avoid the hottest weeks of the summer in Tokyo, a concern Olympic organizers faced before the pandemic.
The I.O.C. considered other alternatives, like holding the Games without fans in arenas or delays of varying lengths from just a few months to all the way to 2022. The committees leaders never seriously considered fully canceling the Games or taking them away from Tokyo, but executives with the local organizing committee were caught by surprise at how quickly things had changed from Sundays declaration by the I.O.C. that it would make a decision on rescheduling the Games within four weeks.
Bach had been emphasizing that life was returning to normal in Japan, which has not been hit as hard by the virus as China, Italy, Spain and the United States. On Sunday in Sendai, in Northern Japan, about 50,000 went to a welcoming ceremony to view the Olympic flame, and people in Tokyo have been taking the subways and dining in restaurants, a stark contrast to life in coronavirus hot spots closer to the I.O.C. headquarters in Switzerland.
This call was arranged hastily, said Toshiro Muto, chief executive of Tokyo 2020, the local organizing committee, referring to the conference call between Abe and Bach on Tuesday evening in Tokyo.
Abe started his day discussing the Olympics with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. He finished with a hearing on the economic impact of the coronavirus, then returned to his official residence for his call with Mr. Bach. Shortly before the call, leaders of the Games in Tokyo, including Mori, the Tokyo governor, Yuriko Koike, and Seiko Hashimoto, Japans Olympics minister, arrived at the residence to join him.
Muto said the decision would cause countless complications. Thousands of tickets have been sold to people in Japan and abroad, who may no longer be able to use them. Japan has already invested at least $10 billion in the Games after beating out Madrid and Istanbul to win the rights to host, and the delay will undoubtedly increase costs. Leases on many of the competition venues and contracts with employees will have to be extended.
When it comes to who is going to pay for it, that is what we are going to discuss going forward, Muto said.
This delay came after numerous other postponements or cancellations of sports in Japan and around the world, and after many governments urged people to limit their physical interactions.
The decision quickly gained the support of national Olympic committees from around the world. In a statement, Andy Anson, the chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said a postponement was the only decision his organization could support. It would have been unthinkable for us to continue to prepare for an Olympic Games at a time the nation, and the world no less, is enduring great hardship, Anson said.
Sarah Hirshland, the chief executive of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, which did not support a postponement until Monday night, said in a letter to Team U.S.A. athletes, who had become increasingly frustrated by her lack of action, that taking a step back from competition to care for our communities and each other is the right thing to do.
The signal that the decision was certain came earlier Monday, when Australia announced that it would not be able to send a team to Tokyo. John Coates, the leader of Australias Olympic organization and an I.O.C. member, is a close ally of Bachs and leads the I.O.C.s coordination commission for the Tokyo Games.
At a time when Japans economy is already stumbling, the delay of the Olympics could deal a serious blow. In a report early this month, SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. projected that a cancellation of the Games would erase 1.4 percent of Japans economic output.
One of the trickiest aspects of moving the Games is handling the broadcast rights that drive significant revenue for the International Olympic Committee. Nearly three-quarters of I.O.C. revenue comes from broadcast rights, and about half of those fees are paid by the American broadcaster NBC. Broadcast partners and other Olympic partners may seek a reduction in their fees if there are substantial changes to when the Olympics are staged or if organizers reduce the number of sports.
The complications will ripple beyond the Games themselves. The international governing bodies for track and field and swimming, for example, planned to hold world championships in 2021 and will have to work with their athletes and host cities to possibly reschedule those events.
The Summer Olympics attract more than 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries, and the I.O.C. prides itself on being more than a competition, representing values such as unity and peace, bringing the world together every two years in sports and friendship.
The coronavirus initially broke out in China in December but has quickly spread across Asia, Europe and North America, and many health experts have been concerned that bringing together people from disparate parts of the globe especially athletes who live closely in a village might ignite an additional outbreak.
The Olympic torch relay through Japan was scheduled to start Thursday. The flame will now stay in Fukushima, site of the nuclear meltdown triggered by an earthquake and tsunami nine years ago.