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Saturday Sports: Washington's NFL Team Faces Sexual Harassment Allegations

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Washington, D.C.,'s NFL team will get a new name. Does it really need a new owner? Major League Baseball will soon return, but some minor leagues have beaten them to it. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us.

Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: Dan Snyder, who owns Washington's NFL team, which is kind of between names at the moment, gave in to demands to change the team's name. Now a devastating report this week in The Washington Post, including allegations from 15 women who say they were sexually harassed by team staff. After the prolonged controversy over the racist team name, major advertisers pulling their money and this, will NFL owners take this report as a spur to get Dan Snyder out of the owner's box?

GOLDMAN: Well, league bylaws allow them to do that. If they think Snyder is guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league, it would take a vote of at least 24 of the 32 owners to remove him. Now, certainly, it can be argued the allegations you mentioned that were revealed this week represent conduct detrimental to the league, especially in a time right now when organizations throughout society are being held accountable for past behavior. But none of the 15 women mentioned in the Post article accuses Snyder of any of the harassment or abuse. The women say they don't see how he didn't know it was going on for 13 years under his watch. But, you know, without him doing it himself, that might mean he hangs on. There will be an investigation depending on what's found. We'll find out what punishment, if any, there will be for Snyder and the team.

SIMON: Let's uneasily then move to baseball. A week - major leagues are a week from reopening, MLB released its latest testing numbers. And they look good, don't they?

GOLDMAN: They do. Of the more than 10,000 samples collected and tested in the past week, only six were positive - five players, one staff member. That's encouraging and maybe a little surprising considering there's been more potential risk, really, with baseball's restart because teams are in their own cities and homes and not in a protective bubble like the NBA and men's and women's pro soccer. So, you know, maybe this means players and staff have been taking this seriously, doing their part to stay safe away from the ballparks. And unless this trend seriously reverses, Scott, we're going to have Opening Day next Thursday with sadly no fans at the parks.

SIMON: But you know what?

GOLDMAN: What?

SIMON: You want to see fans?

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

SIMON: The Frontier League has opened a shortened season with four teams. The Joliet Slammers lost to the Tully Monsters. That's the - that's, you know, the Illinois state fossil, I'm told.

GOLDMAN: Of course.

SIMON: The Slammers play the Nerds Herd tonight, then the Chicago Deep Dish. The games have socially distanced fans, real crowds and noise. I talked to the team owner Nick Semaca this week, and he says because most minor league ball has shut down, they're getting very promising players.

GOLDMAN: That's great. And you know what? This is happening elsewhere, too. In Lansing, Mich., with a league of college players using wooden bats - imagine that - called the Lemonade League. And we had a great story on the air last night on All Things Considered about an amateur 35-and-over league in Birmingham, Ala., played at the minor league stadium there in front of fans, as you mentioned, you know, socially distanced, many with masks. So yeah, there's some opportunities still out there to see live action.

SIMON: Yeah. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.