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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over 200 college sports programs have been cut since the pandemic began wreaking havoc on athletic budgets, altering the lives of thousands of student athletes and coaches.

The state of play: The cuts mostly comprise non-revenue sports like tennis, golf, cross country and swimming.

  • Olympic competition over-indexes in non-revenue sports, so that pipeline will be impacted. Take Stanford, which cut 11 programs four years after breaking a school record with 27 medals in Rio.
  • "This is where we were planning on spending the next 20 years," said coach Brett Harker, whose Furman baseball program was cut this year. "Do you get out of baseball to live in the city you love ... or do you uproot everything, try to invest somewhere else?"

Between the lines: While schools claim these are money-saving decisions, critics view the reluctance to touch where the real fat sits — in the football budget — as proof that the NCAA model no longer provides broad-based opportunities.

The other side: While these cuts are bleak, they could also reinvigorate the of-forgotten club sports ecosystem, as many varsity programs will transition to club rather than disappear altogether.

  • "I feel for the athletes whose programs were just cut, but I think they will find that club frees up time to get passionate about other things," former Stanford rugby player Johnny McCormick told the New York Times.
  • Fewer varsity teams means fewer athletic scholarships, but it could also mean fewer parents spending thousands of dollars pursuing them — a trend that has transformed youth sports and priced many low-income families out.

The bottom line: The fallout of these cuts is varied and far-reaching, but dig just beneath the surface and you'll find there's some reason for optimism, too.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jul 9, 2020 - Sports

College sports stare down a coronavirus-driven disaster in the fall

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wednesday was the worst day in college sports since March 12, when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Driving the news: The Ivy League announced that it will cancel all fall sports and will not consider resuming sports until Jan. 1, 2021 — and Stanford is permanently cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports to help offset a projected $70 million, pandemic-fueled deficit.

Dec 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

Sports podcast company Blue Wire raises $5 million Series A

Photo of Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones, Photo credit: Olivia May

Blue Wire, a sports podcast company, has raised $5 million in its series A round, founder Kevin Jones tell Axios.

Why it matters: The company, which focuses on long-form sports narrative podcasts and conversational podcasts, now hosts more than 140 podcasts with over 20 million downloads for the year. It has $1.5 million in 2020 revenue via sponsorship partnerships via brands like Chevy and Visa.

Sports bettors may be a driving force behind the stock market surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Professional investors have largely abandoned the stock market amid the coronavirus pandemic, but sports bettors and bored millennials have jumped into the retail stock trading market with both feet.

Why it matters: They may be a driving force pushing U.S. stocks to their recent highs — and potentially driving them further.