Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

When whispers of sports' fanless return first began, a cottage industry emerged to fill a need few knew existed: cardboard cutout fans.

Why it matters: Cardboard proxies have been a bright spot in an otherwise dark year, providing a better TV viewing experience, an opportunity for remote fan engagement and even financial relief for companies impacted by the pandemic.

What's happening: The trend began in Europe and Asia, where sports were first to return, and created an opportunity for companies, teams and leagues willing to think outside the box.

  • Pivot: When Lara Smedley's event production company was put on hold, she pivoted and launched My Fan Seats to help teams/schools create cardboard fan programs. Her first partnership with Wake Forest went live last week.
  • Adapt: AAA Flag & Banner is an L.A.-based print shop. Making and installing cardboard fans for the Rams, A's and Giants has helped the company rebuild after losing two-thirds of its workforce in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Innovate: The Premier Lacrosse League offered cardboard cutouts for its Championship Series in Utah and sold 50% of inventory in the first 24 hours, per the league. They also had celebrities promote their individual cutout images on social media, generating exposure for the two-year-old PLL.
Cardboard cutouts of Rams fans during Sunday night's opener. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

How it works: Leagues and teams don't all follow the same blueprint, but the process looks fairly similar across the board. Take the Rams, for example:

  • Step 1: Visit the dedicated website about a week before the home game you wish to "attend."
  • Step 2: Upload a high-resolution photo of yourself (or your pet!) wearing either neutral or team-branded clothing.
  • Step 3: Pay $40 and AAA Flag will take care of the rest, including on-site installation in the stands at SoFi Stadium.

Highlights: Cardboard fans have played a role in some heartwarming stories at the ballpark this summer.

  • They helped Juan Soto enjoy his season debut with his family looking on behind him in left field.
  • They allowed a father and son — both former big leaguers who never knew the other existed — to finally catch a game together (subscription).
  • They gave another father one last chance to sit next to his son at the ballpark, eight years after losing him to cancer.

The big picture: Though cardboard fans sprung up purely out of need, there's no reason they can't carve out a niche once the pandemic subsides.

  • Where's the harm in reserving space for a few each game so fans can support their teams from afar or honor loved ones?
  • Why not let people pay to see themselves on the broadcast and feel like they're part of the experience?

Go deeper

Dec 25, 2020 - Health

Scientists suspect compound in allergic reactions to Pfizer vaccine

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Scientists believe the compound polyethylene glycol — known as PEG — is to blame for the reported allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Driving the news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified six allergic reactions to the vaccine out of the 272,001 doses given through Dec. 19.

Dec 25, 2020 - World

Chile becomes first South American country to start COVID vaccination

Nurse receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Santiago, Chile. Photo: David Lillo/Ministerio de Salud de Chile via Getty Images

Chile became the first country in South America to begin coronavirus vaccinations on Thursday after receiving its first 10,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses, Reuters reports.

The big picture: The country bought 10 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and is expected to receive 240,000 doses in January, per Reuters.

What we know about the victims of the Indianapolis mass shooting

Officials load a body into a vehicle at the site of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Photo:

Eight people who were killed along with several others who were injured in a Thursday evening shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis have been identified by local law enforcement.

The big picture: The Sikh Coalition said at least four of the eight victims were members of the Indianapolis Sikh community.