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!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

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!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

The Little League World Series regionals begin Thursday, with all roads leading to the championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 29.

Why it matters: While the country begins its annual love affair with this ESPN-broadcast spotlight on youth sports, it misses the other side of the story: Little League participation has been dwindling for years.

By the numbers: Participation has decreased by roughly 3% annually since peaking in the 1990s — part of a larger youth sports exodus.

  • Only 38% of kids ages 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis in 2018, down from 45% in 2008, per the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
  • Local examples: In Warner Robins, Georgia, Little League registration fell from 1,000 in 2008 to 524 in 2019. In Indianapolis, it dropped from 500 in 2003 down to just 110 this spring.

The big picture: One of the biggest culprits behind this downward trend is the rise of pay-to-play travel leagues, which price families out and discourage non-elite players from sticking with the sport.

  • This isn't unique to baseball, but perhaps stings even more because America's pastime feels more sacred.
  • There was a time when Little League meant playing a game then hanging out with friends. In today's era of select teams and showcases, "that concept doesn't exist anymore," one coach in Indianapolis said.

What they're saying: A father and volunteer coach wrote an excellent New Yorker piece that sums up beautifully what makes youth baseball so special — and what we lose when local leagues begin to shrink.

"In the town league, there was one beginner kid every year who took much of the season to get their first hit, and when they finally did the rest of the team was jubilant — they went a kind of nuts that my son called 'a release of magical happiness.' The travel teams didn't have that."
"Our teams are the children of nurses and doctors, electricians and mechanics, professors and librarians, guys who work in corrections and in sales, Mayor Curt and an elementary-school custodian — a little league of everybody."

The bottom line: In 1947, 12 teams from two states competed in the inaugural LLWS on a small field nestled beneath a levee, reflecting the nascent youth sports landscape of the time.

  • 74 years later, 53 teams from all 50 states begin their nationally-televised journey in a production equally reflective of youth sports' hyper-competitive status quo.

Go deeper

Competition in online sports betting is fierce — and not profitable

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The growth potential in the nascent market for American sports betting is huge. But for now, operators are still losing money — a lot of it.

The big picture: Sports betting is taking a page from the playbook of tech giants like Netflix, Amazon and Twitter, sacrificing profitability in the early days in the hope of ingraining themselves in customers’ lives.

Oct 13, 2021 - Sports

NHL announces all but four players have been vaccinated against COVID-19

A vaccinated section of fans at a New York Islanders game. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL announced in a press release on Wednesday that all but four players are vaccinated.

The big picture: With only four out of more than 700 players unvaccinated this season, the NHL has a 99% vaccination rate, according to NPR.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.