Sports News

iStock/nathaphat(BOSTON) -- A handful of Boston Sports Club members have filed a class-action lawsuit against the gym's parent company, Town Sports International, alleging they're still being charged gym fees despite all facilities being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gym-goers claim the sports club was "willfully and knowingly charging consumers monthly membership fees" despite not being able to provide services, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

The members who are suing called the conduct "a deplorable display of unconscionable corporate avarice" amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the complaint filed in the United States District Court for Massachusetts on Monday.

The company shuttered all Boston Sports Club locations in Massachusetts in mid-March because of the outbreak, furloughing or terminating most employees, the complaint states.

"However, Town Sports then shockingly and willingly continued to charge consumers monthly membership fees for services that it knowingly would not render," the court document states.

The plaintiffs, all of whom are Boston Sports Club members, are seeking compensatory damages, injunctive relief, attorneys fees and more.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey weighed in via Twitter, writing, "Make no mistake -- this is illegal."

She said that "much like many Boston Sports Club members, my team has been trying to get a straight answer" from them about "how people can cancel their accounts."

"So far, they have refused to provide one. Maybe it's because they fired all their employees," she added. "This is completely unacceptable."

Healey said her office sent a demand letter to the company asking that the matter be corrected "ASAP."

Town Sports International did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday.

The class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts comes after other state attorneys general have taken action against the company, which has been accused of the same tactics elsewhere in the U.S. amid the pandemic.

Last Friday, Attorney General Letitia James of New York, Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Attorney General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia sent a letter to Town Sports International, which also operates New York Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs and Washington Sports Clubs.

The state attorneys general alleged the company was still automatically charging members despite gyms in New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. being closed.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged our country into an unprecedented public health crisis, businesses have shuttered their doors, leaving millions without a paycheck and scraping to get by," James said in a statement. "While the closure of all New York Sports Club facilities may have also placed a strain on the company, its financial straits do not relieve NYSC of its obligation to follow the law."

"New Yorkers have enough to worry about and should not be forced to pay for services NYSC is no longer providing," she added. "If NYSC refuses to do the right thing voluntarily, I will not hesitate to take every legal step necessary to protect New Yorkers from NYSC's unlawful conduct and get their money back."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Allen Kee / ESPN Images(HOUSTON) -- MLB star Justin Verlander and his wife, model Kate Upton, recently announced the generous way they are giving back amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Houston Astros pitcher and Upton will donate the weekly paychecks he is receiving during the MLB shutdown while the season is suspended to different COVID-19 relief organizations.

The couple, who have been married since 2017, shared what moved them to make this decision in an Instagram video posted Saturday.

"Obviously, this is an extremely difficult time for the entire world," Verlander said. "There’s so many people that are in need, whether it’s those that are on the front lines battling this disease head on or someone who’s at home and has lost their job and needs to provide basic necessities, such as food and water."

"As soon as the first paycheck is received we will be highlighting the first organization," Verlander wrote in the caption of his post. "We know everyone is impacted by this crisis, but for those who are able, we encourage you to stay home to help flatten the curve and look to those around you who need a helping hand."

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement last month that players on rosters and the injured list will receive full service time if any of the season's games are played.

If the pandemic prevents the entire season from occurring, these players will receive the same amount of service time they had in 2019.

Verlander is one of the many athletes stepping up to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tom Brady recently announced he is donating 10 million meals to Feeding America through his partnership with private aviation company Wheels Up for its "Meals Up" initiative. Russell Wilson and his wife, singer Ciara, also pledged to donate 10 million meals with the aviation company to Feeding America.

Check out some other famous figures who are raising awareness to food banks and various relief initiatives here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Al Powers / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Tom Brady is one of the many athletes giving back during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback announced he is donating 10 million meals to Feeding America on Thursday to help those in need during this time.

The donation was made through Brady's partnership with private aviation company Wheels Up for its "Meals Up" initiative.

Proud to partner with @WheelsUp for their #MealsUp Initiative to supply 10 million meals to @FeedingAmerica.

— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) April 2, 2020

Feeding America expressed their appreciation for his contribution in a tweet. "Such an amazing gift! Thank you, Tom, for helping us get much-needed meals to our neighbors during this uncertain time," the nonprofit organization posted.

The "Meals Up" initiative was launched in part by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife singer Ciara with Wheels Up.

The couple pledged to donate 10 million meals with the aviation company to Feeding America.

"The reality is that a lot of people are facing tough, tough times right now, and we're all facing it in different ways," Wilson said while appearing on CNBC Tuesday. "There is going to be people let go of their jobs. I think about the young kids across the country that may not have a mom or a dad, or their family situation may not be the best financially, and they're going to be looking for food."

Humbled for @Ciara & I to partner with @WheelsUp on the “Meals Up” Initiative in pledging 10 Million Meals to @FeedingAmerica.

— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) March 31, 2020

Every dollar donated to Feeding America's food banks can provide at least 10 meals.

Check out some other famous figures who are raising awareness to food banks and various relief initiatives here.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


33ft/iStock(NEW YORK) — Sammy Watkins is reportedly staying put in Kansas City.

A source tells ESPN the 26-year-old wide receiver has agreed to restructure his contract with the Chiefs.

The new deal includes a no-trade clause and $7 million in incentives. It tops out at a value of $16 million, the source told ESPN.

Watkins appeared to confirm the news with a tweet Friday morning.


— King me (@sammywatkins) April 3, 2020

In his past two seasons with Kansas City, Watkins has appeared in 24 regular season games, catching 92 passes and scoring six touchdowns.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Maddie Meyer/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has partnered with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to purchase 1.4 million N95 masks from China as the U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to rise.

Kraft also personally purchased an additional 300,000 N95 masks for New York state, which has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The supplies were flown on the Patriots' personal plane.

Kraft wanted to assist New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo out of respect and admiration for his leadership, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission. We knew that purchasing greatly-needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals," Kraft said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

"Multiple organizations across the public and private sectors, all of which were in lockstep with Governor Charlie Baker’s visionary leadership, worked together to execute this mission with the purpose of helping save lives," Kraft added. "I truly hope that in doing so, we can in some way inspire others to find creative ways to give more in support of our doctors, nurses and first responders. It’s nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us.”

States have been struggling amid a shortage of personal protective equipment and have had to compete with the federal government and international demand to replenish their inventories.

"No days off. Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen," Baker tweeted Thursday morning, along with a photo of the Patriots plane in China.

Last month, Baker raised this concern directly in a phone call with President Donald Trump during a teleconference with the nation's governors.

Trump had asked governors to purchase their own supplies to battle the virus instead of relying on the federal stockpile.

Baker told Trump on March 19 that his state "took very seriously" the president's instructions to “go out and buy” their own supplies to battle COVID-19, but “on three big orders we lost to the fed.”

The total number of masks transported from China is 1.7 million and the inventory is expected to arrive at Boston Logan Airport on Thursday afternoon. According to the source, the use of the Patriots plane accelerated the process, which could have taken several more weeks.

The 300,000 N95 masks for New York are expected to be transferred via truck to the The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on Friday, which has been converted into a hospital as medical facilities are strained due to the pandemic.

Other leaders in the sports world have also made efforts to address the shortage of protective personal equipment.

Last week, Major League Baseball and Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin announced plans to halt the production of MLB uniforms to produce at least 1 million masks and hospital gowns for health care workers and emergency personnel battling COVID-19.

Fanatics, which is based in Easton, Pennsylvania, is the manufacturer of the the official MLB player jerseys.

"We have already begun production of up to one million masks and gowns from the fabric used to make the official MLB jerseys and then donating to hospitals and emergency management personnel throughout Pennsylvania with the goal of expanding to New York and New Jersey," Rubin said in a statement obtained by ABC News last week.

Rubin, who is also a minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, is working with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to distribute the gowns and masks to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Courtesy of Alyssa Baker(NEW YORK) -- On March 31, Baker announced that both of his parents, Stuart Baker, 74, and Adrian Baker, 72, died due to complications from the coronavirus. The couple had been married for 51 years, he said, and died just six minutes apart.

“My parents were two amazing individuals who impacted mine and many others' lives, and unfortunately [we] tragically lost them both within minutes of each other," Baker told ABC News. "There is an opportunity here for people to realize that [they] can have an impact by stopping the spread of the virus."

Baker took to Twitter to share the tragic news, and he urged everyone to take the pandemic and all CDC guidelines seriously.

In loving memory of my mom and dad- please make the tough and right choice and help stop the spreading of this virus.

— Buddy Baker (@ESG_Baker) March 31, 2020

“We live in a world of, ‘It can’t happen to me, it can’t happen to us, it can’t happen to my family.’ Well, it happened to us," he said in the Twitter post. "I’d like to take this time to make people start thinking about making a change.”

In an interview with ABC News, Baker detailed his parents' decline in hopes of helping others and stopping the spread of the virus.

Baker said his parents were in perfect health until three weeks ago when they visited their doctor, who told both of them that they may have a slight case of pneumonia but should be fine. When they continued to feel worse, his parents went to the hospital on March 19.

“My dad was admitted and my mom was sent home,” said Baker, who noted that his father had asthma while his mother, 72, didn’t have any pre-existing conditions.

With his father in the hospital, Baker worried about his mother, who was home alone, anxious and sad.

“My parents were married, as I tweeted, 51 years and [were] virtually inseparable. They were never in different places and they were rarely in different rooms,” said Baker. “So we were really worried about my mom being by herself … we would go see her and she was very weak and really wasn’t walking great.”

The family didn't want to upset her with negative news about his father's health. His dad had officially tested positive for COVID-19 and had been transferred to the ICU. About an hour or two later, as his mother showed more signs of deteriorating, he received a call from the hospital saying that his father "wasn't going to make it."

Baker knew the news would devastate his mother and he worried that, in her already weakened state, she would have an anxiety attack. So Baker said the family brought her to the hospital as a “precautionary measure."

About 45 minutes after his mother was admitted, Baker said he received a call from the hospital informing him that his mother’s condition was also grave.

“In the timeframe of about five to six hours, I was informed, on the phone, by two separate doctors, that each one of [my] parents were [most likely] not going to make it,” said Baker, who added he held onto optimism for his mother, who had yet to be treated.

"[My] mom on Wednesday woke up for a few minutes and kind of waved at us through the glass. We didn't go in the room and it just got worse every day," he said.

The next day, after both of his parents had been sedated, the doctor explained to the family that neither parent was going survive, Baker said. Both had organs shutting down.

The family filled out hospice paperwork that would take Baker’s parents off the ventilators so they would be comfortable and "let nature take its course," he said.

“Our request was that when they [took them off the ventilators], that would allow them to be in the same room,” said Baker. “[The hospital] put them in the same room and they actually sent up a picture of them holding hands [while sedated].”

On March 29, Baker's parents were taken off the ventilators and they passed away minutes apart, Baker said.

“When you go through this, a lot of things go through your head. You’re also not prepared,” he said.

“I started thinking, "This has got to stop. We’ve got to work to stop spreading this virus,'” said Baker. He said that people have to stop thinking, "I’m too young, I’m too healthy" and realize that "it could happen to somebody in your family.”

Baker hopes that others are moved by his family's "misfortune and tragedy, to hopefully make a difference.”

"There's nothing that can be done, unfortunately, to bring our parents back," Baker told ABC News. "But we can hopefully save other people's lives ... by doing things to stop the spread of this virus.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


da-kuk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- NFL agent Buddy Baker said his parents died six minutes apart from COVID-19.

The couple, married for 51 years, were in "perfect health" before contracting the virus, Baker said in a video posted to Twitter.

"Hopefully this can be a catalyst for a change. Practice social distancing, wash your hands as regularly as you can and importantly stay at home," said Baker, who represents Washington Redskins running back Terry McLaurin and Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, among others.

In loving memory of my mom and dad- please make the tough and right choice and help stop the spreading of this virus.

— Buddy Baker (@ESG_Baker) March 31, 2020

"It's going to take all of us banding together and deciding we're gonna stop the spread of this virus," Baker said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


kireewongfoto/iStock(LONDON) -- The 2020 Wimbledon championships has been canceled due to the escalating worldwide coronavirus pandemic and will next be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, said Wednesday in a statement, "This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen."

"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships," Hewitt said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


cmannphoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- At least four NBA players who have recovered from COVID-19 plan to donate blood for an experimental treatment that could help high-risk patients overcome the virus, according to Dr. Michael Joyner, a member of the leadership team of the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.

The experimental therapy, called convalescent plasma, utilizes the antibodies in blood donated from recovered patients to potentially curb the virus in the sickest patients.

Joyner, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said Tuesday that his team will work with players to find donation sites.

On Sunday, the NBA league office reached out to team physicians encouraging players who have recovered from the virus to consider opting in to the experimental treatment, according to a copy of the memo obtained by ABC News.

The NBA also donated $100,000 to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project as part of the NBA Together campaign.

The NBA’s donation and plea for players to opt in to the program comes amid criticism that the league coordinated VIP testing of players while other Americans showing symptoms struggled to access tests. Dr. Joyner said that while “testing at many levels will be highlighted” when all is said and done, the players deserve credit for offering their help.

“I think you have to do what's in front of you right now,” Joyner said. “The players themselves had nothing to do with getting into the VIP lane. It's one of those things about celebrities in the United States, and we're not going to solve that problem in the middle of this crisis.”

Marcus Smart, a guard for the Boston Celtics, confirmed through his agent that he is one of the players who will opt in to the program. Smart announced Monday on Twitter that he had been cleared of the virus by the Massachusetts Department of Health.

The identities of the other three players planning to participate are not known.

Joyner said professional athletes could be valuable donors not only for their platform to spread awareness of the disease, but also physiologically.

“These are big men with blood volumes, and as a result have a lot of plasma volume,” Joyner said. “Frequently people who are physically trained also have an increase in their plasma volume from what you would expect from them just being regular-sized guys.”

With an approved vaccine still months away at best, doctors say the experimental treatment offers a ray of hope for medical professionals and patients alike.

“We believe it can be disease-modifying and reduce duration and severity in some patients,” said Joyner said.

Physicians and scientists from 34 institutions in 17 states are investigating the use of convalescent plasma in the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The 2020 Summer Olympics officially have a new start date after being postponed a year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Games in Tokyo will kick off on July 23, 2021, Japanese organizers announced Monday. That’s almost exactly a year to the day of when the opening ceremony was originally scheduled for in 2020 -- July 24.

The closing ceremony, meanwhile, will now be held on Aug. 8, 2021.

The organizers also announced Monday that the Paralympics were rescheduled to open on Aug. 24, 2021, and close on Sept. 5, 2021.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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