Tuesday’s Sports in Brief – Washington Times

US WOMEN’S HOCKEY BOYCOTT

USA Hockey and the women’s national team reached an agreement to end a wage dispute and avoid a boycott of the world championships on home ice that would’ve been a black eye for the sport.

Players and USA Hockey finalized the deal Tuesday night and announced it in a joint statement just three days before the tournament begins in Plymouth, Michigan. It’s a four-year agreement that pays players beyond just the six-month Olympic period.

Captain Meghan Duggan called it a “historic moment in women’s sports.” USA Hockey president Jim Smith said people will look back on this day “as one of the most positive in the history” of the organization.

Before this agreement, players said they were paid $1,000 a month around the Olympics, and the new contract is believed to be worth about $3,000 to $4,000 per player per month. Combined with money received from the U.S. Olympic committee, each player could surpass $70,000 in annual earnings, and that number could reach $129,000 in 2018 if the team wins the Olympic gold medal.

Players also received business-class travel, just like the men’s team, and insurance protection they asked for.

PRO FOOTBALL

PHOENIX (AP) – NFL owners got busy passing several rules changes, adopting resolutions they believe will speed the game and enhance player safety, and perhaps even allow for more personality in player celebrations.

One day after approving the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, the owners sped up discussions on dozens of subjects.

That led to a change in handling officiating of video replays; eliminating “leapers” trying to block field goals or extra points; adding protections for defenseless receivers running their routes; and further discussions with the players about loosening restrictions for on-field celebrations.

The NFL also extended bringing touchbacks out to the 25-yard line for another year; made permanent the rule disqualifying a player who is penalized twice in a game for specific unsportsmanlike conduct fouls; and tabled reducing overtime in the regular season from 15 minutes to 10, a subject likely to be addressed at the May meetings in Chicago.

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A city famous for its over-the-top persona is eagerly welcoming an NFL franchise that boasts an equally outsized reputation and the promise of big-league legitimacy for the desert gambling oasis, which up to now has seen major sporting events just passing through.

Las Vegas is no stranger to big time events catering to all tastes. Champion boxers lace up their gloves at glitzy hotel-casinos on the Strip. Thousands turn out for NASCAR races. The National Finals Rodeo rides into town every year.

With the addition of an NHL expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, and as of this week the Raiders, Las Vegas believes it has arrived as something substantially more than a one-off venue.

Jubilant state and local officials were quick to welcome the team after the league’s relocation approval Monday. Sports fans who had been confined to minor league baseball and an assortment of lower-division hockey teams gathered downtown to celebrate Monday night.

SOCCER

GENEVA (AP) – Lionel Messi is banned from Argentina’s next four World Cup qualifying games, dealing a blow to a campaign by the 2014 runner-up that has stuttered without him.

Messi’s suspension for “having directed insulting words at an assistant referee” during a home qualifier last week against Chile started on Tuesday, shortly before his teammates played Bolivia in La Paz.

Without Messi, Argentina went on to lose the qualifier 2-0.

The five-time FIFA player of the year can appeal to FIFA, but is on track to return for Argentina’s final match in the 10-team South American qualifying group, hosting Ecuador on Oct. 10.

GYMNASTICS SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDAL

WASHINGTON (AP) – Retired star gymnasts testified before Congress that they were sexually abused by a former USA Gymnastics doctor and recommended a bill that requires tougher sex-abuse reporting for Olympic sports.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, and three-time national champion rhythmic gymnast Jessica Howard recounted their experiences before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

They told the committee of their abuses by Dr. Larry Nassar, who is in jail without bond in Michigan and also faces federal child pornography charges.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California is co-sponsoring a bill that requires organizations overseeing Olympic sports to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or child-welfare authorities.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – An Arkansas House committee advanced a measure to exempt college sporting events from a state law allowing guns after the Southeastern Conference appealed for guns to be banned from facilities such as football stadiums.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the new state law last week allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the State Capitol.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the exemption measure after it was amended. Under the amended exemption, college stadiums such as the University of Arkansas’ Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences would be able to designate sensitive areas where they wouldn’t want people to carry concealed handguns. To prohibit concealed carry in those sensitive areas, they would have to put together a security plan for those areas and submit it to Arkansas State Police for approval.

OLYMPICS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has approved the North Korean women’s ice hockey team to compete in an international event next month at Gangneung, a venue for the 2018 Olympics.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the North Korean team would be permitted to stay from April 1-9 to participate in the group rounds of the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.

North Korean athletes haven’t competed in South Korea since the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon.

Relations between the rival Koreas have significantly worsened over the past year after a series of rocket launches by North Korea.

The women’s world championship is one of the many sports events South Korea plans to host at its Olympic facilities to prepare for next the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.

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