Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont,Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont announced today that it will contribute $150,000 to support relief activities for Vermonters who suffered losses as a result of flooding due to Hurricane Irene. ‘Our state has suffered a disaster of historic proportions, but Vermonters have responded with extraordinary compassion and support for those who have suffered the most because of the terrible flooding that occurred,’ said BCBSVT President and CEO Don George. ‘As the state’s only Vermont-based health plan, it is important to BCBSVT and to its more than 340 employees to do as much as we can to support our neighbors in the difficult weeks and months ahead.’ Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, a non-profit company located in the central Vermont community of Berlin, will donate $150,000 to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund, created by the United Ways of Vermont in cooperation with the executive board of the Vermont Voluntary Organizations Action in Disaster and Vermont Emergency Management, is earmarked to support the long term needs of those most affected by the flooding. George said the donation is unprecedented for BCBSVT, but was decided upon because of the breadth of the losses that occurred because of Hurricane Irene-related flooding and the unique challenges faced by those who lost their homes and belongings. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s only Vermont-based health insurer and is the largest private health plan in Vermont. The non-profit company employs more than 340 people and provides health care benefits for more than 160,000 Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external) Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.
Koonin made his proposal amid falling viewership for the NBA this season. There is concern that the league’s popular momentum from this last decade has faltered. For weeks now, the suspension has prompted discussion of when the league might return, but with the possibility of the start of the playoffs being pushed all the way to the summer, some have begun championing the idea that the league should push its regular season back permanently. Moving the NBA’s best product — the playoffs and Finals — into the summer, known to be a dead period in sports when the only thing going on is MLB’s regular season, gives the NBA a chance to carve out a section of the calendar of its own, similar to how football dominates the fall. This idea actually arose nearly a week before the league’s suspension. On March 6, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin proposed moving the league’s start time back from mid-October to mid-December. This would, in turn, shift the start of the playoffs to June, with the Finals kicking off in August. The NBA Draft and Summer League would also be pushed back, with both likely occupying a September time slot. “Relevance equals revenue,” Koonin said. “We’ve got to create the most relevance, and the revenue will fix itself.” According to reports, the league is pretty open to the idea. If it proceeds, it will be interesting to see what other decisions the NBA makes in accordance. Christmas Day has long been the unofficial start of the NBA season, but will it become the actual start to the season if the league chooses to implement the change? Will the league double up on changes and experiment by adding a midseason tournament with playoff implications? Who knows, but the possibilities will be there. Those were important and correct decisions on Silver’s part, and he’s gained a lot of popularity among players and the media because of them. But now Silver has the chance to get creative in a big structural way. Perhaps he’ll come to the decision that shifting the league schedule back isn’t feasible, but we’re going to find out over the following months just how far the NBA’s doctrine of forward thinking extends. The NBA doesn’t have the capability of competing with the NFL right now, so moving out of the fall (also allowing it to avoid college football) would help on its own. However, the NBA wouldn’t simply be fleeing from the television behemoth that is football. The NBA Playoffs were supposed to start Saturday, kicking off two months of highly intense action (well, apart from the first round, which generally features a lot of lopsided four- and five-game series). Instead, we’re still sitting here waiting just to see if the regular season will ever come back. There are some potential issues to consider. People generally want to vacation during the summer months, so the shift might backfire and hurt viewership during the league’s most significant stretch. Free agency would also be pushed back into the football season, which would draw attention away from the period that actually generates the most attention for the NBA. The NBA has been the most progressive league for a while now. Commissioner Adam Silver has proven that he is not beholden to the traditions of the sport if they aren’t the most beneficial option for players and the league’s reputation. Most of his big decisions have been made to uphold the integrity of the NBA’s brand and allow its stars to use their own voices, such as his ouster of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his vocal defense of players criticizing President Trump. Even if viewership tanks in the summer, the circumstances of the pandemic will serve as a security blanket against any retrospective criticism of the shift and whatever revenue the league gets is still preferable to none. The idea makes sense because it places the NBA in a more advantageous spot on the sports calendar. The NFL is not only the dominant sports television property in the country right now, it also has the highest ratings of any TV program. NFL games made up 78 of the 100 most-watched telecasts in 2019, according to the Sports Business Journal. However, the league might have a built-in out. If the playoffs are able to resume this season on a schedule similar to the one listed above, this season could act as a test run. If it plays out and works the way I think it might — great! If it flops and ratings bottom out, then the league will know not to do the same thing again. The truest mark of resilience is the ability to make something horrible work in your favor. The NBA has the opportunity to do just that as the end of its season continues to be postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. Aidan Berg is a junior writing about sports. He is also a features editor for the Daily Trojan. His column, “Berg is the Word,” typically runs every other Monday.
FIFA broke new ground by appointing a Senegalese United Nations official as its first female and first non-European secretary general on Friday.Fatma Samoura has no experience working in sports but FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes that will help it try to regain the trust and credibility of the world.”We want to embrace diversity and we believe in gender equality,” Infantino told the FIFA Congress in Mexico City.Fresh wind to FIFA The 54-year-old Samoura, who will replace the fired Jerome Valcke if she passes an eligibility check, is currently working in development for the U.N. in Nigeria.”She is used to managing big organizations, big budgets, human resources, finance,” Infantino told FIFA’s membership. “She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA – somebody from outside not somebody from inside, not somebody from the past. Somebody new, somebody who can help us do the right thing in the future.”‘Samoura has the ability to build and lead teams’ Samoura, who speaks French, English, Spanish, and Italian, appears to have no experience dealing with commercial deals and broadcasters – a key part of the job as FIFA’s top administrator.FIFA said she coordinates the activities of around 2,000 staff members, and “monitors and evaluates the security, political, and socio-economic situation and trends in Africa’s most populous country.””She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organizations perform,” Infantino said. “Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organization.”advertisementAlso, FIFA lifted Indonesia’s suspension from world soccer. Indonesian national and club teams, referees, and officials were banned over government interference in the running of the national federation.Indonesia was readmitted after the government agreed to end its suspension of the soccer federation, but the national team has missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup while banned.Benin and Kuwait are suspended due to government interference in their federations’ independence.
Virat Kohli has been in splendid form and has taken Royal Challengers Bangalore to the brink of the playoffs. Scoring more than 800 runs in season nine of the Indian Premier League, the RCB skipper has decimated batting records. (IPL Full Coverage|Points Table)’FITNESS KEY TO SUCCESS’While a lot has been said about Kohli’s consistency, RCB leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal said Kohli’s fitness was key to his unreal consistency in the shortest format of the game. Kohli has scored 1490 runs in T20 cricket since January this year and has been unfazed by fitness issues. (Also read: The Age of Virat Kohli overshadowing the Era of Sachin Tendulkar) “He is working on his fitness and spends lot of time in the gym, and also in nets. After the batting, he bats on the centre wicket to practise hitting sixes. He has worked hard and hence he has made over 800 runs this IPL,” Chahal said. ‘DON’T WANT TO BOWL AT THEM’Chahal said he felt lucky to have Kohli, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson in his team instead of bowling at them.”Yeah (I don’t want to bowl at them). The top four batsmen — Watson, Gayle, Virat and AB — are in my team. So, I feel I am lucky,” he said. (Also read – Virat Kohli on record-shattering fourth hundred: It was unbelievable!)’BOWLERS HAVE BUCKLED UP’RCB’s top-order have been on a record-breaking spree but leggie Chahal feels his side’s bowlers have also played a crucial role in the team’s turnaround in the ongoing IPL.advertisementChahal said that RCB bowlers played no small part in the team rising to number two spot in the IPL points table, especially after Chris Jordan joined the side.”In last two games, the bowlers have done really good job because in earlier games bowling was the concern and we were facing combination problems too. Now, the combination is right and bowlers are bowling in right areas. We have improved our bowling and erased the tag of having a weak bowling lineup,” Chahal said.”When Jordan came into the team, the first two matches did not go well for him. The way he bowled in Mohali and in the last match against KKR it helped the team, especially when you have Watson and Jordan it helps,” he said.FREEDOM TO FLIGHTReplying to a question, Chahal said Kohli gave him freedom to bowl, but he would insist on not giving away sixes.”When he tosses the ball to me, he tells me not to give away sixes, but bowl freely. Against KXIP, I went after wickets because we had a big total on hands. He just told me to bowl the way I bowl,” Chahal said.