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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several outdoor sports and activities boomed during the pandemic as people sought safer, more socially-distant alternatives.

By the numbers: What began with a cycling boom has since expanded to golf courses, tennis courts, hiking trails and beyond.

  • Golf saw a 27% year-over-year increase in rounds played in the U.S. from June to December.
  • Tennis saw a 22% increase in the number of people who reported playing at least once, while pickleball saw similar growth.
  • Outdoors: 8.1 million more Americans hiked in 2020 than in 2019, 7.9 million more went camping and 3.4 million more went freshwater fishing, per AP.
  • Disc golf: 50 million rounds of disc golf were played worldwide in 2020, roughly doubling 2019's total. 50% of new players played at least five rounds their first month, per UDisc, a scorekeeping app.
"The pandemic skipped us ahead about three years in our growth curve."
Josh Lichti, CEO of UDisc

Looking ahead: Most booms will go bust as the country reopens and people get their lives back. But don't be surprised if some of these activities sustain momentum, particularly as summer approaches.

Go deeper: The pandemic drove people to tennis and golf. Will they keep playing? (NYT)

Go deeper

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.
Kate Marino, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Omicron outbreaks were bad for business in January

Data: New York Federal Reserve Bank; Chart: Axios Visuals

Emerging anecdotal evidence shows just how hard the recent rise in COVID-19 cases hit businesses in early January — but that hasn't hurt some business leaders’ longer-term views of their companies' prospects.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the economic recovery has come in fits and starts that move in tandem with new peaks in cases. Look no further than the thousands of canceled flights and shuttered Broadway theaters in the wake of the Omicron variant's spread over the last few months.