Axios Sports

A large foam finger.

April 26, 2023

👋 Good morning! Are you golfing today? I won't tell your boss.

Today's word count: 1,868 words (7 minutes).

Let's sports...

1 big thing: ⛳️ The rise of midweek golf

Data: Stanford University and INRIX; Chart: Axios Visuals

During the pandemic, golf was the official sport of social distance. Now, it's settling in as the official sport of remote work.

State of play: The COVID-fueled golf boom has yet to go bust thanks in part to the incredible rise of midweek golf, according to a recent study from Stanford.

By the numbers: Using geolocation data near golf courses in the U.S., researchers found that 83% more golf games were played on weekdays in August 2022 than in August 2019.

  • In 2019, there were 12,700 "golf course trips" on Mondays, 11,400 on Tuesdays, 10,800 on Wednesdays and 15,000 on Thursdays.
  • In 2022, those numbers were 24,400, 25,800, 26,200 and 26,300, respectively.

Between the lines: Wednesday afternoons have seen the biggest transformation.

  • 278% more golf trips were made at 4pm on a Wednesday in August 2022 vs. August 2019, per the study.
  • "Every course, every minute is packed now throughout the week," one golf course manager told the researchers. "No more quiet Wednesdays."

The big picture: Millions of Americans who started working remotely three years ago are now set in those routines — and more comfortable leveraging their flexibility, NYT notes.

  • This has created huge demand for leisure activities like golf and yoga, and a large swath of the country is participating in the growing "afternoon fun economy."
  • 27% of paid full-time work days in the U.S. were done from home at the start of 2023, per data from the same Stanford researchers.

The last word … From an anonymous California tech executive cited in the study:

"I think my colleague was taking his Zoom call from the golf course. He was on mute and video off, but once when he was talking, I heard somebody talking about the fairway and strokes."

2. 🏈 The Jets got their guy

Photo Illustration of Aaron Rogers wearing a Jets helmet

Photo illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty

Monday's blockbuster trade sending Aaron Rodgers to the Jets could be the turning point a struggling franchise and suffering fan base has needed for over a decade, Axios' Jeff Tracy and I write.

Details: For the second time in 15 years, Green Bay is sending an aging legend to Gang Green.

  • Jets receive: Rodgers, plus Green Bay's first- and fifth-rounders (Nos. 15 and 170) in this week's draft.
  • Packers receive: New York's first-, second- and sixth-rounders (Nos. 13, 42 and 207) in this week's draft, plus a second-rounder next year that becomes a first if Rodgers plays 65% of snaps.

Between the lines: Despite losing a superstar, this looks like a coup for the Packers, who improved both this and next year's draft hauls while unloading a disgruntled QB with two years and $108.7 million left on his contract.

The other side: It also feels like a no-brainer for the Jets, whose 12-year playoff drought is tied for the longest in major North American sports. They had to do something, and what they did was add an all-time great.

  • Rodgers may be 39, but he's also just one year removed from winning back-to-back MVPs. Even his less-than-stellar 2022 campaign was more promising than whatever Zach Wilson seems capable of at the moment.
  • Plus, the Jets showed last year that they may actually be a good QB away from contending, boasting a top-five defense and drafting both the Offensive (WR Garrett Wilson) and Defensive (CB Sauce Gardner) Rookies of the Year.

The big picture: Win-now deals can look risky or short-sighted in the moment, and sometimes they end up being just that.

  • "The Jets didn't need to hit a home run," one personnel executive told ESPN, citing the cost of their all-in move. "They have a juggernaut defense … All they needed was a double."
  • Yes, but: Similar moves have produced immediate results in recent years, with the Buccaneers (Tom Brady) and Rams (Matthew Stafford) winning Super Bowls in their first season with a new QB.

By the numbers: New York's Super Bowl odds improved from 25-1 at the start of the offseason to 14-1 in the trade's aftermath, tied for the sixth-best odds in the league.


  • Wild stat: Rodgers has 10 seasons with 4,000+ passing yards. The Jets have one (Joe Namath in 1967).
  • New number: Namath offered up his retired No. 12 to Rodgers, but he's expected to revert to No. 8, which he wore in college.
  • Farewell note: "This is not the end for us, I will see you again Green Bay, you'll always have my heart,” Rodgers wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday night.

What to watch: Rodgers' introductory press conference is today at 2pm ET.

🧀 Go deeper: Rodgers' greatest moments as a Packer (USA Today)

3. 🏀 Shot of the night: Ice Trae

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Trae Young drained a deep three with 2.8 seconds left to lift the Hawks past the Celtics, 119-117, and force a Game 6 back home in Atlanta.

More playoffs…

4. ⚡️ Lightning round

paolo banchero

Photo: Jess Rapfogel/Getty Images

🏀 Rookie of the Year: Paolo Banchero was the near-unanimous choice for ROY (98 of 100 first-place votes). He's the third Magic player to win the award, joining Shaquille O'Neal (1993) and Mike Miller (2001).

🏀 Embiid update: The knee injury that sidelined Joel Embiid in Philly's Game 4 victory was a sprained LCL. He'll be reevaluated later this week and could be ready for the start of round two.

🏒 Makar suspended: Avalanche defensive superstar Cale Makar was suspended one game for his late hit on Monday against Kraken forward Jared McCann. He'll miss tonight's Game 5.

⚽️ Dream night: Girona's Valentín "Taty" Castellanos — on loan from NYC FC — became the first player since 1947 to score four goals against Real Madrid in a LaLiga match.

5. ⚾️ Pirates join $100M club

Illustration of baseball on top of a pile of money

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Pirates signed Bryan Reynolds to an eight-year, $106.75 million extension on Tuesday, locking up their star outfielder through 2030 with a team option for 2031, Jeff writes.

Why it matters: It's the largest deal in team history, and it leaves the Royals, White Sox and Athletics as the only franchises who've never given out a $100 million contract.

Here's every team's largest all-time contract by total value. Some were extensions, others were free agent deals (*).

AL East

  • Yankees: Aaron Judge, OF (9 years/$360M, signed entering 2023 season)*
  • Red Sox: Rafael Devers, 3B (11/$331M, 2023)
  • Rays: Wander Franco, SS (11/$182M, 2022)
  • Orioles: Chris Davis, 1B (7/$161M, 2016)*
  • Blue Jays: George Springer, OF (6/$150M, 2021)*

AL Central

  • Tigers: Miguel Cabrera, 1B (8/$248M, 2014)
  • Twins: Carlos Correa, SS (6/$200M, 2023)*
  • Guardians: José Ramírez, 3B (5/$124M, 2022)
  • Royals: Salvador Perez, C (4/$82M, 2021)
  • White Sox: Andrew Benintendi, OF (5/$75M, 2022)*

AL West

  • Angels: Mike Trout, OF (10/$360M, 2019)
  • Rangers: Corey Seager, SS (10/$325M, 2022)*
  • Mariners: Robinson Canó, 2B (10/$240M, 2014)*
  • Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B (5/$151M, 2018)
  • Athletics: Eric Chavez, 3B (6/$66M, 2004)

NL East

  • Mets: Francisco Lindor, SS (10/$341M, 2021)
  • Phillies: Bryce Harper, OF (13/$330M, 2019)*
  • Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, OF (13/$325M, 2015)
  • Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, RHP (7/$245M, 2020)*
  • Braves: Austin Riley, 3B (10/$212M, 2022)

NL Central

  • Reds: Joey Votto, 1B (10/$225M, 2012)
  • Brewers: Christian Yelich, OF (7/$188.5M, 2020)
  • Cubs: Jason Heyward, OF (8/$184M, 2016)*
  • Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (5/$130M, 2019)
  • Pirates: Reynolds, OF (8/$106.75M, 2023)

NL West

  • Dodgers: Mookie Betts, OF (12/$365M, 2020)
  • Padres: Manny Machado, 3B (11/$350M, 2023)
  • Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B (7/$234M, 2019)
  • Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke, RHP (6/$206.5M, 2016)*
  • Giants: Buster Posey, C (8/$167M, 2013)

Editor's note: This item was corrected to show that the largest contract in Braves history was Austin Riley's 10-year, $212M contract signed in 2022, not Freddie Freeman's 8-year, $135M contract signed in 2014.

6. ⚽️ In photos: 80 is the new 50

players lining up to shake hands
Photos: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Japan has one of the oldest populations on Earth, with an average life expectancy of 85. Naturally, it needed a soccer league for those spry octogenarians, Jeff writes.

players challenge for the ball
Photos: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

In 2012, Tokyo's "Soccer For Life" league created an over-70 division. A decade later, they've added an over-80 category to keep pace with a generation that refuses to quit.

players stretching
Photos: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Games are 30 minutes long (15-minute halves), and players include former pros like Mutsuhiko Nomura, 83 (middle above), who was named Japanese Footballer of the Year in 1972.

"When I was a kid, men in their 50s and 60s were considered 'grandpas.' And now, we're all still at it in our 80s. It's shocking."
— Nomura

Go deeper: For Japan's aging soccer players, 80 is the new 50 (Reuters)

7. 📆 On this day: Vikings miss pick

players at the 2003 nfl draft

2003 NFL draft. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

20 years ago today, the Vikings embarrassed themselves on national TV when they missed their first-round pick during the 2003 NFL draft, Jeff writes.

Flashback: With 32 seconds left on the 15-minute clock, Minnesota traded its No. 7 pick for Baltimore's 10th — plus the Ravens' fourth- and sixth-rounders — and called the deal into the league. But for some reason, the trade never went through, leaving the Vikings scrambling.

  • In the frenzied aftermath, the Jaguars and Panthers leapt at the chance to jump the line and make their own picks while the Vikings regrouped.
  • Minnesota finally made its selection at No. 9, grabbing the guy they wanted all along: future five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams.

Context: In order for draft-day trades to be consummated, both teams had to successfully call in the deal. But according to then-Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore's call went unanswered.

The big picture: Ultimately, everyone came out alright, as both Williams and Baltimore's pick — linebacker Terrell Suggs — went on to have stellar careers.

  • Such a gaffe is unlikely to happen when the 2023 draft begins tomorrow: All deals are "called in" electronically now.
  • Fun fact: Only one other team has missed their pick since the Vikings — the Ravens in 2011.

Go deeper: What really happened with the Vikings' missed pick (ESPN)

8. 📺 Watchlist: 3-1 holes

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Source: Giphy

A trio of higher-seeded teams could see their seasons end tonight at home.

More to watch:

9. 🏀 NBA trivia

shaq and kobe

Photo: Andrew D.Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images.

Kings-Warriors Game 4 was the NBA's most-watched first-round playoff game since Shaq and Kobe's Lakers faced the Trail Blazers in 2002 en route to the title.

  • Question: Who were Portland's top two scorers that season?
  • Hint: Both of their last names start with a "W."

Answer at the bottom.

10. ⚾️ 1 ump thing: Little League strikes back

A Little League game in 1953. Photo: NFB/Getty Images

A Little League in southern New Jersey is implementing a new rule to deal with unruly parents.

The rule: Any spectator who confronts an ump during a game must umpire three games themselves before they're allowed back as a spectator.

  • Two volunteer umps in the Deptford Township Little League quit last week after arguing calls with parents.
  • "They're coming here, they're being abused, they don't need that," said league president Don Bozzuffi. "So they're walking away."

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "Golfing brb" Baker

Trivia answer: Rasheed Wallace (19.3 ppg) and Bonzi Wells (17 ppg)

🙏 Thanks for reading! Follow us for more (@kendallbaker and @jeffreytracy). Friends can sign up here. Thanks to Matt Piper for copy edits.