Jul 11, 2019

The profound impact of the NBA's nomadic era

Kawhi Leonard. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

We've reached the point in the NBA's ever-evolving player empowerment era where fans must simply accept that their team's best players will probably leave at some point.

Why it matters: These days, it feels like the best — heck, maybe the only— way to follow the NBA is to be a fan of the league as a whole rather than rooting for one team.

  • When new players arrive and are offered ungodly sums of money to stick around, there's no guarantee that they will (see: Kawhi Leonard only signing for two guaranteed years with the Clippers instead of four).
  • This is having a profound impact on everything from team building to player legacies, but I'm not sure we've fully grasped how big of an impact it's having on modern NBA fandom.

There are pros and cons to this situation...

Pro: When you follow the league as a whole and watch the drama unfold like a reality show, suddenly a Tuesday night game between two random teams becomes interesting. That's a plus for fans (always something to watch) and the NBA (can sell more League Pass subscriptions).

  • Con: With players switching teams like never before and rosters constantly in flux, it's become increasingly difficult for fans to fully invest in one team. As a result, will we see the connective tissue between teams and cities begin to deteriorate? Could ticket sales plummet?

Pro: Thanks to the insanity of free agency, the NBA offseason has become almost as popular, if not more popular, than the season itself. This has helped the league stay relevant year-round.

  • Con: Is that actually a good thing? If fans are constantly looking to the future rather than focusing on the present, the whole idea of, ya know, winning games can get lost amidst the trade proposals and free agency rumors.

The bottom line: The NBA's nomadic era means more headlines, more tweets and more drama than ever before. But at what cost?

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The health risks of specialization in youth sports

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In 2016, multiple studies found that youth athletes who specialized in one sport and played it year round (as opposed to being multi-sport athletes) were at significantly higher risk of suffering an overuse injury.

Why it matters: This has become an increasingly alarming issue since those studies were released — particularly when it comes to basketball, the most popular youth sport in America.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019

NFL owners continue pushing for 18-game season

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Rams owner Stan Kroenke. Photo: Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

With the NFL and its players union in the midst of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, owners continue to push for an 18-game regular season.

Why it matters: The NFLPA estimates that an additional two games could add as much as $2.5 billion in annual revenue, which would, in turn, add about $15 million to the salary cap.

Go deeperArrowJul 12, 2019

Attendance woes for sporting events were inevitable

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The consumption habits of the modern sports fan is once again a hot topic following Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's mini-rant about college football's declining attendance.

My thought bubble: Is anyone surprised that this is where we ended up? Because this was always where we were headed. For decades, schools and conferences have been making decisions that benefit the TV viewer because that's where the eyeballs are.

Go deeperArrowJul 23, 2019