Damian Lillard shoots a free throw during one of the NBA's restart games. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Sports are back, and on the surface, the actual gameplay looks fairly similar to when we last saw them.

But beneath that facade of normalcy lie some interesting trends spurred on by fan-less environments, long layoffs and condensed schedules.

NBA: Free throw attempts — and percentages — have risen.

  • Before the shutdown, the 22 bubble teams attempted 23.05 free throws per game and made 77.65% of them. In the bubble, those numbers have risen to 27.91 and 79.42%, respectively (through Wednesday).
  • Officials are calling more fouls because they can actually hear the contact, and players are shooting better without a wall of fans trying to distract them.
  • "I feel like it's a hooper's gym," said Suns guard Devin Booker. "It's easier to shoot in here with less depth perception."
  • Worth noting: Overall shooting percentage among the 22 teams is down in the bubble.

MLB: Pitchers are getting injured at an unprecedented rate.

  • During the season's first 10 days, there were 30 pitcher arm injuries, which is 2.5x more than in any previous season's opening stretch (12). In the three days since then, four more pitchers have landed on the shelf with arm injuries.
  • The culprit appears to be the stop-and-start nature of spring training, which has led to a disconnect between fine-tuning mechanics and building the muscle required to execute them.

WNBA: Pace of play is at an all-time high.

  • In the past three seasons, six teams surpassed 80 possessions per 40 minutes. Through Wednesday's bubble action, nine teams were north of that mark.
  • Pace has been rising for years now, but this season is faster than ever in part because players' legs have never been so fresh. Those who play overseas normally enter the WNBA season right after their abroad seasons end. But this year, those campaigns were shut down in March, so they're well-rested.

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Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Sep 4, 2020 - Sports

A big moment for women's soccer

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women's soccer will get major U.S. exposure this weekend, with the NWSL kicking off its seven-week "Fall Series" on CBS and the FA Women's Super League (England) beginning its season on NBCSN.

Why it matters: It's an exciting time for the sport, which has grown from four million players worldwide in 2006 to roughly 30 million today, and is still riding the momentum of the 2019 Women's World Cup.

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced in an op-ed Sunday that he would be voting for Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Ridge, who was also the first secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.

Former GOP governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge endorses Joe Biden

Tom Ridge. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, will vote for Joe Biden, he announced in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on Sunday.

Why it matters: Ridge, who also served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, said this would be his first time casting a vote for a Democratic candidate for president. He's now the third former Republican governor from a swing state to endorse Biden and reject Trump — joining John Kasich from Ohio and Rick Snyder from Michigan.