Why it matters: Shifts in technology and media are changing the way we play, watch and understand sports. Business models are adapting and social change is forcing those in charge of teams and leagues to reconsider decades-old practices.

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Tennis star Maria Sharapova announces retirement

Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2018. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Maria Sharapova announced Wednesday her retirement from professional tennis in an essay in Vanity Fair, closing out a career that saw her win Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17 and eventually add four more Grand Slam titles.

What she's saying: "Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain," she wrote. "My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible. After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain — to compete on a different type of terrain."

U.K. bans children from heading soccer balls

A Manchester City player heading a ball in 2019. Photo: Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

British youth soccer players will no longer be allowed to head the ball in practice, according to new safety guidelines for kids ages 11 and under. And even after they leave primary school, headers "will remain a low priority when compared to other technical aspects of the game."

Why it matters: The new guidelines are in direct response to a 2019 study that found former pro soccer players were 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia compared with a control sample, and five times more likely to die of Parkinson's.

Go deeper: The world's wealthiest soccer clubs

A 62-year old Marine set a record by planking for 8 hours

George Hood, a 62-year-old Marine veteran from Naperville, Illinois, recently set the Guinness World Record for longest abdominal plank at eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds.

What he's saying: Hood discovered planking a decade ago and quickly got hooked. "It was a static exercise. There was no movement involved. I could put music in my ears at the gym and lay on the floor and plank," he told WashPost.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - Sports

LeBron-Zion lives up to the hype

Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James, whose play defined the last two decades of NBA basketball, scored a season-high 40 points in his first matchup against Zion Williamson (29 points), whose play could define the next two decades.

Fun fact: LeBron has now faced a fellow No. 1 overall pick 356 times — and he's finished with the scoring advantage in 297 of those games, per ESPN.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - Sports

The race to catch Nike's Vaporfly shoe before the 2020 Olympics

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Four months ago, on the very same weekend, Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under two hours, and fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei shattered the women's marathon record.

Why it matters: Kipchoge and Kosgei were both wearing Nike's controversial Vaporfly sneakers, which many believed would be banned because of the performance boost provided by a carbon-fiber plate in the midsole that acted as a spring and saved the runner energy.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - Sports

Olympic official: Tokyo is "looking at a cancellation" if coronavirus not contained by late May

View of the Olympic Rings near the new National Stadium in Tokyo. Photo: Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The fate of the Tokyo Olympics is expected to be decided within the next three months amid fears surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus, International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.

The state of play: The games are on as of now, but the committee's final decision will depend on discussions with the World Health Organization, Pound said. The Olympics are set to bring roughly 11,000 athletes to Tokyo, with the event scheduled to begin on July 24. Another 4,400 athletes will arrive in Japan for the Paralympics set to start on Aug. 25.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Sports

Coronavirus disrupts sporting events around the world

People walking in Milan, Italy, on Feb 25. Photo: Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and has begun impacting a slew of international sporting events as the window to prevent a global pandemic narrows.

The state of play: Four Serie A soccer matches in Northern Italy were canceled, and the government wants future games in areas affected by the outbreak to be played behind closed doors without fans.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Sports

Sabrina Ionescu makes NCAA history hours after Kobe Bryant memorial speech

Photo: Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hours after speaking at Kobe Bryant's memorial service in Los Angeles, Sabrina Ionescu flew to the Bay Area to rejoin her Oregon teammates — and proceeded to do something never done before in college basketball.

What happened: Ionescu became the first player in NCAA history, man or woman, to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in No. 3 Oregon's 74-66 win over No. 4 Stanford.

Go deeperArrowFeb 25, 2020 - Sports
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